BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington resident who raised questions about a reimbursed airline ticket for Mayor Tari Renner's partner has asked the mayor to stop making statements that he considers to be defamatory.
"It has come to my attention again that you have been spreading factually incorrect, misleading and malicious information regarding my character, behavior, social interactions, business transactions," said Bruce Meeks in a letter he emailed to Renner on Wednesday.
"This constitutes defamation against my reputation, and I demand that you cease and desist these slanderous and libelous statements immediately," he added. "If you do not cease or desist immediately, I will be forced to take appropriate legal action against you and the city of Bloomington and will seek all available damages and remedies."
Meeks asked that the mayor have no contact with him either in person, by U.S. mail or email.
"Everything is factually correct, and I would like nothing better than to have no contact with him," Renner texted Thursday in response to a request by The Pantagraph for comment. "Anybody can allege anything."
In his letter, Meeks cited as an example of a defamatory statement, Renner's comment to The Pantagraph after Renner received a letter Monday night from six aldermen chastising the mayor for "bringing disgrace to our governing body" for treating some people who disagree with him with a lack of "respect and civility."
"We've got real things to worry about; not the fact that I would have sent an email to somebody who has been suing us for five years and calling him crazy," Renner told The Pantagraph.
Information The Pantagraph received in response to a Freedom of Information Act request indicates Meeks has not sued the city during the five years referenced by Renner.
"The city has reviewed its records and has not found any documents demonstrating that Bruce Meeks has filed any 'lawsuits' against the city during the time period requested," the city document stated.
"This FOIA request was interpreted as seeking any civil litigation filed in a court of law and not for several complaints that Mr. Meeks has filed with the (Illinois Attorney General's) Public Access Counselor, as those are being sought by (The Pantagraph) under a separate FOIA request."
Meeks also sent a copy of his letter to Bloomington city attorney Jeff Jurgens, Bloomington Assistant Police Chief Clay Wheeler and Assistant State's Attorney Don Knapp in McLean County's civil division. A special prosecutor with the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor's Office was appointed to the case in August.
"While I am aware of the email, the city has not received notice of any formal action," said Jurgens in an email. "It would, therefore, be inappropriate for me to speculate further on these matters."
In an email he sent to The Pantagraph with a copy of the letter, Meeks said he was forwarding it to Illinois State Police, which confirmed on Aug. 16 that an investigation into "the mayor's office" had been opened, but the agency did not specify the nature of the probe.
While Renner did not specifically name Meeks in his comment Monday night, he clearly was referencing an Aug. 13 email Renner sent to Meeks, in which Renner called Meeks "crazy" and "pathetic."
In that email, Renner referenced an email Meeks sent on July 31 to city officials and McLean County State's Attorney asking for an ISP investigation over the use of a p-card by a city employee this summer to pay for a $1,836 plane ticket for Renner's partner as part of a sister-city delegation to Japan in August.
While Renner's partner reimbursed the city shortly after the ticket was bought, critics questioned whether the charge was appropriate.