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Fritz Kaegi Slaps Joe Berrios With Defamation Lawsuit

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios is being taken to court, again.

He's being sued for the second time in a month. CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports, this time, his opponent is the one suing him.

The source of Cook County Assessor candidate Fritz Kaegi's ire is this statement:

"Kaegi personally managed a fund that invested nearly $30 million in private prisons. Prisons where women refused food to protest abusive guards, immigrant children as young as 5 were held and detainees died suspiciously. But Kaegi only saw profits."

Kaegi says it's the reason he's slapped his powerful Democratic opponent -- Berrios -- with a defamation lawsuit.

"We want the record corrected. We want him to apologize for making a false -- a knowingly false -- charge," Kaegi said.

The flap is over the private prison company CoreCivic. Kaegi concedes the mutual fund's March quarterly statement shows CoreCivic among its assets. But Kaegi says it was added to the portfolio after he stopped managing it.

"It's public record that I stepped down from it on March 13th," Kaegi said.

He points to other SEC filings as proof.

As for Berrios? His campaign manager says, "All of our claims are factual. Wall Street Republican Fritz Kaegi has been unable to prove any misrepresentation of the facts."

Kaegi, a self-described progressive Democrat, calls that nonsense. His lawsuit follows one in December charging Berrios with racial discrimination when it comes to assessing property taxes.

"They're trying to distract from that record," Kaegi said.

Berrios' campaign declined CBS 2's request for an interview. They did say the ads are no longer running, but would not say when they were pulled or why.

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