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*** UPDATED x1 *** Ministers say Cohen tried to buy them off

Friday, Oct 22, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’ve been hearing tons of rumors about Scott Lee Cohen trying to buy off African-American ministers, but two ministers confirmed it to CBS2

Two ministers say the offer was made by a Cohen supporter and by someone who worked for the campaign in the past. It was simple, they say, throw their support behind Cohen at a news conference and they would get cold, hard cash in return.

Chicago minister Rev. Gregory Lee says he’d never had an offer quite like it before.

“It was in the form of cash,” he said.

On Tuesday, while attending a meet-and-greet with independent candidate for governor Scott Lee Cohen, Lee says one of Cohen’s supporters and a one-time campaign worker told him Lee would get at least $500 if he publicly backed Cohen. Lee says it seemed to him that the worker was trying to buy his support. […]

CBS 2 spoke with Reverend James Jones by phone, since he was out of town, who said he received the same offer.

Cohen’s campaign told CBS2 that it didn’t authorize any cash payments.


Not good at all. The Cohen campaign probably just bought itself an investigation.

* WGN TV also had a similar story last night. Rev. Lee told WGN that he was offered $500 and claims he saw people receiving cash. The state’s attorney is reportedly looking into the allegations. Watch it.

*** UPDATE *** From the Cohen campaign…

Independent gubernatorial candidate Scott Lee Cohen will hold a news conference this afternoon at his campaign headquarters. Cohen is prepared to answer questions about erroneous reports that his campaign made financial commitments to a group of Chicago area pastors for their support.

“Nothing could be further from the truth”, says Cohen. In fact, Cohen will produce video evidence that will refute any suggestions that his campaign made any financial commitments to the group of pastors who attended a “Meet and Greet” event at Dusties Restaurant in suburban Matteson on Tuesday.
The pastor who organized the event, Reverend Marvin Alexander of Union Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, will also be present at the news conference.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Cohen, by the way, has still not filed his pre-election report, which was due Monday

A campaign spokesman blamed the miscue on an overworked campaign aide.

“This was an inadvertent overlooking of a critical deadline,” said John Davis. “With two weeks left in the campaign, things start swirling around.”

The Illinois State Board of Elections, which regulates campaign laws, typically fines first-time offenders $500 as long as they file within 10 days of the deadline. The disclosure law is aimed at giving voters information about where candidates are getting money for their campaigns.

Davis said Cohen’s reports will be filed by Friday.

“We’re not sweating the small fine,” Davis said.

OK. Way to bring the heat on yourself, Scott.

* As I’ve told you before, many of the “employers” attending Cohen’s “job fairs” are multi-level marketers. Fox Chicago reports that some of those companies even want up-front cash

The jobs message resonated with people like Amanda Musfelt of Rockford, a college graduate and mother of three who has been trying unsuccessfully to get back into the workplace. At our request, Musfelt joined hundreds of job seekers who attended Cohen’s job fair in Rockford on Oct. 5 […]

She also found some of the companies aren’t just paying you– they want you to pay them, asking for up-front fees for supplies and training seminars.

“I don’t remember the numbers,” Musfelt said. “I heard a $250 thrown out there, and you make it back in three months, three times that. Not the job I’m looking for. I don’t have $250.”


  1. - Jo - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:49 am:

    You really think any reputable company would set up at a Cohen job fair?

  2. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:52 am:

    What a scurrilous accusation. It must be completely unfounded.

    Who are you going to believe, Ministers or Scott Lee Cohen?

  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:53 am:

    Something about this story makes me think that Cohen may be a fit for governor of Illinois after all. He pays cash. And he hangs with people who expect cash for “jobs.” It fits will Illinois’ great traditions.

  4. - John Bambenek - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:53 am:

    This really shows Scott to be an amateur. You don’t just hand out cash… this isn’t the movies. You fund programs and hand out grants… geez.

    This is so amateur hour.

  5. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:54 am:

    Sorry, a typo: make that “It fits with Illinois’ great traditions.”

  6. - just sayin' - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:58 am:

    the thought occured to me, it could be a set up by another campaign.

    But given Cohen’s past it does ring true.

  7. - Who Cares - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:58 am:

    Like this has ever happened before?

  8. - Amalia - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 9:59 am:

    Cue the Casablana script…..

  9. - anon - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:02 am:

    this guy is an absolute train wreck. he is completely qualified to be governor of Illinois!

  10. - Pioneer P. - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:02 am:

    Granger Terry is better at spending the money than keeping track of it. They sure are good at putting up signs though. I’m sure they’ll help clean that garbage up after the election is over too.

  11. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:04 am:

    What is causing this guy to spend tons of money, presumably his own, and now, perhaps, open himself up to criminal investigation? What are the rewards for the investment and risk?

  12. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:05 am:

    Word, why did Virginia Thomas call Anita Hill and ask for an apology? Why did Blago . . . .?

  13. - Chubs Mahoney - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:06 am:

    The Defender put it best:

    “A vote for Cohen sends the message that the Black electorate is easily duped.”

  14. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:08 am:

    The Cohen signs that keep going up in my area are placed on expressway ramps, expressways, bridges, and public parkways. There are only a handful of yard signs on lawns.

    The illegal signs get taken down by the authorities, then are replaced again only to be taken down a second, third and now fourth time.

    He did the same thing during the Democratic primary and drew a lot of votes in my area.

  15. - WOW - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:08 am:

    This must be Granger Terry’s Swan Song. The Primary is acceptable because he was a democrat (with baggage or not) but as an independent they lose clients … and deserve to.

  16. - OneMan - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:09 am:

    I went to a fair to check it out, there were a few legit companies but for the most part is was MLM and stuff like that.

    Everything from cosmetics to chocolate (they do home parties for chocolate now)

  17. - OneMan - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:09 am:

    Would a $500 gift have to reported on a D-2?

  18. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:23 am:

    Amalia -

    I, too, thought about Casablanca and Capt. Renault … “Shocked” at the gambling!

    Are we at all suprised that SLC is doing ANYTHING that may deem seedy, untaudry, unethical, immoral … (do I need to go on?)

    Bribery … just let that sit out there … bribery … bribery of African-American ministers …what!?!?!? Shocked?

    I just typed all these people to blame but erased it.

    The “Dude” is ‘wacky wealthy’, making dirty money owning pawn shops … if this clown wants to stop making payments to his wife for child support and spend cash to try to gain credibility, even though its so tainted and rotten HE can’t even see it, what could have been done had he lost and THEN decided to do this anyway???


  19. - Ghost - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:32 am:

    Werent there allegations that coen paid homeless peopl or signatures…. seems like the natural carry through for that tactic. Just imagine if he won….

  20. - Lincoln Parker - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:45 am:

    Who says Scott Lee Cohen isn’t providing jobs? On my walk home in the loop the other day, there was a SLC “Supporter” handing out brochures. This supporter normally begs for change at the same corner, however he had a fresh white Scott Lee Cohen t-shirt and a large box of brochures.

  21. - Wumpus - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:53 am:

    Not politics as usual. Most politicians know you can simply place $ in the collection plate.

    Should we insult Monster and Careerbuilder or any newspaper as they list jobs from MLM’s as well. These companies are scum and decietful. Maybe SLC has a way to get some peoples’ money back (knife to the thraot of the CEO). he could be a peoples advocate.

  22. - The Captain - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 10:56 am:

    The cash rumors in the primary were pretty colorful. It looks like someone finally got some confirmation on at least part of it.

  23. - ILPundit - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:04 am:

    Lets be real clear about the mistake SLC made here. He offered the money upfront and too soon. You are supposed to handle payouts like this with more subtlety.

  24. - shore - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:10 am:

    Im surprised there hasnt been more of this stuff given how many neophyte candidates and wackos there are that made it to the ballot.

    BTW, alexi got absolutely destroyed in the chicago papers for what happened yesterday. The tribune had a particularly blistering oped.

  25. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:17 am:

    Shore, are you referring to the editorial about Alexi saying “economic treason”? If you are, I thought that was the stupidest and most blatantly bias and inconsequential editorial I’ve read in quite a while.

    It’s one thing to endorse a candidate but another to be on his payroll and that read, at least to me, like a sell out.

    And I was even thinking of voting for your guy.

  26. - Jo - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:19 am:

    Shore, nobody reads the Tribune’s op-eds

  27. - Patrick McDonough - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:20 am:

    Rich, please enjoy this video, a half hour of Scott Lee Cohen made in Oct. Thanks Pat.

  28. - EazyTurner - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:27 am:

    Hey, Cohen supporters and defenders, your candidate is running on a platform of not being a ‘career politician’ and not being susceptible to the shadier acts such politicians are notorious for. Saying Cohen is a-ok in doing this because career politicians do it makes his whole campaigns message moot.

  29. - Iknewit - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:37 am:

    Listeing to the SLC ads I have always wanted to find out what kind of job the guy got from “One of the biggest cable compainies in the country”? From the sound of it (His age and the way he expressed himself) I figured it was a cable installing job. For that I should vote for SLC?

  30. - Pat Robertson - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:46 am:

    ==“It was in the form of cash,” he said.==

    Gosh darn it, where’s mine!?!?

  31. - soccermom - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 11:50 am:

    Word —

    This simply does not track. Cohen is spending a huge amount of money — an amount that is completely at odds with everything we’ve seen in his financial background.

    Let’s put this in perspective: EZ Corp, a publicly held pawnshop company, operates about 435 pawnshops in the U.S. and Canada. Last year, those shops brought in about $460 mm in revenues. Let’s call that $1 mm per store, before any expenses or taxes — before the lights go on, before any employees are paid, anything. And keep in mind that EZ Corp is apparently a well-managed company that is growing by leaps and bounds.

    Yet on the proceeds of one little pawnshop, SLC has enough money to pour millions of his own post-tax dollars into a vanity campaign? And those are only the millions that have been reported — not the cash payments to various “supporters.”

    This doesn’t add up. Something else is going on here.

  32. - Cynic Al - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:14 pm:

    Erm, paying ministers to GOTV is nothing new.

    Sounds like Cohen’s people didn’t know how that things are supposed to be done with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge and not so blatantly.

    Apparently they also didn’t know that ministers won’t do much for $500.

  33. - 47th Ward - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 12:15 pm:

    ===I figured it was a cable installing job===

    No, that guy wishes it was a real job like cable installer. I read a news article that said Jason Kyle (sp?) landed a job with a “national” cable TV company to — wait for it — sell cable TV subscriptions door-to-door. 100% commission, no salary. I think his “job” lasted for 3 months if I recall correctly.

    Selling cable door-to-door is not exactly anyone’s dream job. Cohen’s job fairs are a pr scam. I’m glad Rich and others are exposing this fraud.

  34. - anon - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 1:03 pm:

    cohen’s bid is an independent one, but all his mail and cash appears to be going to d primary voters–is this guy a stalking horse? where is he getting his money???

  35. - Dirt Digger - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 1:09 pm:

    Just $500 per preacher? Jeez. The running price for Cohen endorsements in the primary was $10,000.

    If he doesn’t like the press on this maybe Cohen shouldn’t be so cheap.

  36. - OneMan - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 4:05 pm:

    Over/Under on when the D-2 will be filed?

  37. - Wensicia - Friday, Oct 22, 10 @ 5:18 pm:

    As soon as Blagojevich hears about this, you’ll be seeing a commercial with the ex-gov by Cohen’s side, saying he’s the best choice for this state. Just show him the money…

  38. - Jason Kyle - Saturday, Oct 23, 10 @ 2:09 am:

    Ummm yea there was a 35k salary plus commission… I held the job from July until February. It looks great on my resume and was legit. Politics is a circus. If you have any questions you can contact me yourself and I am on facebook. Don’t believe everything in the media…

  39. - Jason Kyle - Saturday, Oct 23, 10 @ 2:16 am:

    FYI CNN also called me an actor until I gave them references. Sooo, they never aired it on Anderson Cooper. Fox News also showed up at my door and twisted my words. I’m just a regular guy and I benefitted from the job fair. I never meant to become the face of the campaign. IMO Scotts not throwing around the money… candidates with more clout, I’m sure, are throwing arounf their money. Its politics in IL. Nuff said… that’s why a regular guy can’t get a break… and YES I’m still voting for Scott Lee Cohen.

  40. - Mark S. Allen - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 10:08 am:

    And look at the Ministers who endorse Quinn and see whats behind their endorsements?? If not direct cash, do you see their church members with State jobs and contracts or their church with state funded programs etc.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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