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Half a million bucks disappears from Stroger account

Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012

* I’ve looked over his filings this morning and they’re a complete mess. From the Sun-Times

Former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is blaming an accounting error for the sudden disappearance of $500,000 from his campaign filings this year without an accompanying explanation of where the money went.

The money, which was left over from the campaign in which Stroger lost re-election to current board president Toni Preckwinkle, was invested in Amalgamated Bank by Friends for Todd H. Stroger for President of the Cook County Board campaign. The money appeared on campaign filings in the first quarter of the year but wasn’t reported in the second quarter, said Jim Tenuto, assistant executive director at the Board of Elections.

A board staffer noticed the discrepancy and sent Stroger a letter asking what happened to the money, “which is something we routinely do,” said Tenuto. “This is not an investigation or an accusation, it was more of an administrative issue,” he said.

Stroger said Monday evening the money was used to pay campaign bills and an accounting error was to blame for the discrepancy.

* OK, if you go back to the end of 2008, Stroger reported $526,747.08 in investments and $465,227.33 in outstanding debt, including $350,000 to himself, which he incurred in 2006.

On April 11, 2009, Stroger appears to have cashed in those investments and deposited the money into his campaign account. On June 30th of that year, he reported no investments on hand and $640K in the bank. He also reported just $115,227.33 in debt, having paid off his loan to himself.

On August 21st, 2009, Stroger put $500,000 into a couple of CDs.

Stroger entered the 2010 campaign with $152,554.92 in cash on hand, then raised another $294,685.00 during the first half of the year. He spent $341,107.73 and was left with $106,132.19 plus his $500K in investments.

But then he filed an odd amended return for the first six months of 2010. The only expenditures listed in the amended return were for a $500,000 deposit into an Amalgamated Bank of Chicago investment fund on June 30th. But he also shows a receipt of $621,632.19 from Amalgamated Bank of Chicago on the same day.

And that’s pretty much where I gave up. The investments, as noted above, eventually “disappeared” without explanation. They appear to have existed at one time, but it’s gonna take somebody with more time than I have to figure this one out.

Very weird.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:19 am:

    There are more discrepancies in earlier years. The board needs to dig deeper.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:27 am:

    “Oh, the 500 Large? Yeah, that’s ‘Clerical’. If you don’t carry the ‘7′, and use the ‘distributive propertty’, ya know, like in Algebra, then you don’t see it. Now, did you find it?”

    “If a County Board chairman, going 35 mph, goes 15 miles to the East Bank Club, and the Couny Chairman’s ‘clerk’ makes a ‘clerical’ error going 100 mph to the nearest ’shoe box’, where did the $500,000.00 go? Show your work”

    “Look anybody can out-math $500,000.00. Anybody.”

    “Todd Stroger was told there would be no ‘math’ when doing the D-2s.”

    “Can we just put that down as ‘miscellaneous’ like usual?”

    “Did you SEE the yard signs and t-shirts? There is your $500,000.00 right there …”

    “Go down to the Dunkin’ Donuts and get receips, they should total … roughly … $500,000.00″

    “Look, I said, ‘500.00′ for ‘walking around money’, not $500,000.00! That must have been a huge stack of non-sequential twenties!”

    “Did someone chaek on Uncle Billy? I think he talk with Mr. Potter before that deposit!”

  3. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:32 am:

    “Did someone check on Uncle Billy? I think he talked with Mr. Potter before that deposit!”


  4. - so.... - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:38 am:

    There’s definitely something weird going on.

    With regard to the issue you raise, Rich, with his amended 2010 report, it looks like he took out a loan from Amalgamated Bank and rolled over his $500k investment on the same day.

    The money that’s currently missing is more interesting.

    In his report for the first quarter of 2012 (1/1/2012 to 3/31/2012) he reported $500k in investments and $215,227.33 in debts. But in the report for the second quarter (4/1/2012 to 6/30/2012) both the $500k in investments and $215k in debts are gone. So he may have used the investments to pay off his debts, that’s fine. But that still leaves $285k missing. He reported zero expenditures in the second quarter, so he didn’t spend it.

    Three possible scenarios:

    1) He really is a sloppy record keeper, and the money (or part of it) is still there.

    2) He spent it all, either through paying off undisclosed debts (which is a problem since all debts are supposed to be disclosed) or new expenses that arose in the second quarter (which is unlikely because he wasn’t running for anything, and a problem since he’s required to disclose expenditures).

    3) He took the money.

  5. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    I don’t work for them, but I noticed this news was broken by the new DNA Info start-up yesterday afternoon and others then followed. Kudos to them on making news in their first day.

  6. - Responsa - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    $500,000 is kind of a lot of money to just sort of have “disappear”. It’s a nice round number though. It’s interesting that Todd has decided he will not run for the JJJ seat after all because he wants to spend time with his growing children. There’s probably not any connection between that political decision and the allegedly missing dollars.

  7. - soccermom - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    This is shameful and an investigation should begin. There is no point to campaign finance law if there are no consequences when it is so blithely disregarded.

    Todd Stroger was put in charge of a $3 billion government. He raised enough money to hire someone competent to track his campaign expenses — although hiring competent people does not seem to have been his strongest suit.

    Rich, thank you for looking closely at these forms; perhaps someone in law enforcement will follow your example and take action.

  8. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 11:01 am:

    I suspect some CPAs from the Justice Department just got a little busier.

  9. - Responsa - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 11:02 am:

    Is it cynical that I immediately suspected someone within the Chicago democratic hierarchy (who has known about this for a while) is just doing what needs to be done to winnow the number of potential candidates for the JJJ congressional seat? Nah. That’s not being too cynical. This is Chicago politics.

  10. - Chicago Bars - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 11:02 am:

    I’d go with sloppy record keeping. His own finance team managed to double count $90,000,000 in tax revenue during one of the last Cook County budgets and nobody caught it until Preckwinkle’s administration took over. Sometimes it’s rocket science, sometimes it’s fraud, but sometimes it’s just bad double entry accounting.

  11. - helen franklin - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 11:08 am:

    Trust me when I say the tax auditors of the world will be all over this??

    he may be the next one to resign due to miss used campaign funds???

  12. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    ===he may be the next one to resign due to miss used campaign funds??? ===

    He doesn’t have to resign, the voters of Cook County decided that long ago.

  13. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 11:16 am:

    “Dear CapFax,

    A half a ‘mil’ missing? That ain’t nothing. When you start talking ‘real’ money missing, look me up.


    Rita Crundwell
    Former Dixon Treasurer
    ‘Guest’ of the Federal Government”

  14. - Ann - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    You know, Rich, if Oswego Willy ever gets his own blog, I don’t know what the fun will be in reading yours anymore. Unless you’re also Oswego Willy, in which case more power to you.

    I note that Ms. Crundwell is not yet a guest of the feds, on account of she’s free until her sentencing hearing next February (14th–Happy Valentine’s Day!) and probably will get some time to report after that. I also found the delightful blog,

  15. - bored now - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 11:59 am:

    i dunno, but the people around todd did seem to be particularly inept…

  16. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 12:17 pm:

    - Ann -,

    You are too kind.

    Rich has nothing to fear. This is the place to be, and I am probably only half as funny as I think I am, so I am just lucky Rich lets me hang out.

  17. - foster brooks - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 12:22 pm:

    Oswego willy, if she (rita crundwell) only took her allotted vacation she would still be stealing. Those dumbells at city hall still don’t have a clue.

  18. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 12:32 pm:

    “Look - forster brooks -, I took the money and the vacation….

    And all the town got was a Dumb T-Shirt”

  19. - Rudykzooti - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 12:41 pm:

    He sure raised a lot of money for someone who was obviously going to get throttled in the primary, I mean who would give that clown a nickel?

  20. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 12:45 pm:

    Thank you Rich.

    Thorough study of this issue is now unavoidable.

  21. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 12:48 pm:

    ===I mean who would give that clown a nickel?===

    There are pages and pages of those D-2s of people who though it was wise to invest in Todd Stroger.

    I would have gave, but I thought lighting my fireplace with crisp $100 bills was better and less controversial.

  22. - Jen Sabella - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 1:08 pm:

    @Anon: Thanks for the shout out! DNA’s story is here for anyone curious (since the Sun-Times didn’t credit us..)

  23. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 2:07 pm:

    Rich if you give up, stop calling yourself a reporter….either get to the FACTS or stay out of it. Personal commentary is what is wrong with the media in Chicago anyway.

  24. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 2:08 pm:

    If the State is NOT investigating, who cares????? Did we not read that people?

  25. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 2:19 pm:

    ===If the State is NOT investigating, who cares????? Did we not read that people?===

    “we hear that Todd Stroger’s fund is ‘light’ a half a million dollars. I say we just let Todd figure it out.”

    I doubt … doubt … this will be the end of it. Either Harry Baily is going to bring a telegram from Sam Wainright, Todd and his people learn “Principals in Accounting I, or maybe as Geroge said, “Someone is going to jail, and it ain’t gonna be me.”

    All alleged, all speculation, but $500,000.00 is a lot of missing bills.

  26. - Irish - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 2:42 pm:

    Todd Stoger - ” Hello, Mayo Clinic? Can I speak to admissions??

  27. - Irish - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 2:56 pm:

    OW - nice season pertinant reference. I doubt Todd has a Clarence.

  28. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 3:03 pm:

    Thanks, - Irish -,

    I was “trying to capture the spirit of the thing”.

    Whenever I think of “lost” money, I think of Ole Uncle Billy handing that envelope to Mr. Potter. If Todd’s Crew uses that reference, then Mr. Capra should get royalites.

    Teacher says, every time a D-2 is light money, a Committee gets its Audit.

  29. - JACQUES CARR - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 3:16 pm:


  30. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 4:04 pm:

    Todd can stop entertaining running for the Jackson Jr. Congression Seat.
    Uncle Billy has been laying low since the Fed’s have been breathing down his back.

  31. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Nov 27, 12 @ 5:18 pm:

    DUCK! Loose Wingnuts at 3:16!

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