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Report: Kirk concealed campaign payments to wife, girlfriend

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

* Oy

Soon after Mark Kirk’s ex-wife announced she would no longer support his 2010 run for the U.S. Senate, he brought her onto his campaign team, then quietly paid her after his victory.

But Kimberly Vertolli, a lawyer who received $40,000 from the campaign, again is at odds with her ex-husband, filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Kirk and his then-girlfriend may have broken campaign finance law.

The girlfriend, Dodie McCracken, who works in public relations, has acknowledged receiving more than $143,000 in fees and expenses for her campaign work. A former live-in girlfriend, she is no longer romantically involved with Kirk, according to a campaign aide.

Kirk’s campaign has characterized Vertolli as an aggrieved ex-wife and labeled “groundless” her complaint filed late last year about payments to McCracken.

At the heart of the matter is Vertolli’s assertion that the Kirk campaign may have improperly hidden money to McCracken by paying her through another company working for the campaign. Because the money was not paid directly to McCracken, her name does not appear in Kirk’s federal disclosures.

Go read the whole thing before commenting, please. It appears that payments to both the ex and the girlfriend were deliberately hidden. But there were news stories about the girlfriend being on the payroll, so that wasn’t exactly a secret. Vertolli is another matter. She just inadvertently outed herself as a payroller as well.

On the bright side, all those vile rumors spread by people like Jack Roeser and Andy Martin are now proved false.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Adam Smith - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:24 am:

    We’ve seen ex spouses use the kids, the house, even the dog as pawns in their domestic disputes, but the FEC???

    Ex Mrs. Kirk obviously has some issues that are unresolved and she is acting out in the most theatrical way possible.

    Also really nice of her to attack when Mark is not in the best condition to refute her charges.

  2. - blogman - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:27 am:

    Jesse Jackson Jr. has been doing the same thing for years, correct? His wife is “consulting” as well under her maiden name, I think.

  3. - Wensicia - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:38 am:

    What’s Kirk’s ex-wife’s problem. The fact the girlfriend received more money than her?

  4. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:40 am:

    –”But I do think the motivation in actually putting me on contract was to try to, was to get me to be quiet about my misgivings about McCracken and get my energy focused on helping Mark win.”–

    Perhaps Ms. Vertolli should give the money back, then.

    If this was an amicable divorce, as described, I’d hate to see how it would have gone down if one of the parties was vindictive and refused to get on with life.

    Ms. Vertolli certainly did reveal something, but not what she intended to. Talk about piling on.

  5. - Emanuel Kant - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    Prediction: No sympathy for the ex-wife and plenty for Sen. Kirk. Now I can see why he’s not married to Vertolli. Makes one wonder whether she’s now getting another under the table “consulting” gig to talk to the Tribune.

  6. - Colossus - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:55 am:

    I’m not terribly concerned about the sympathy game, I’m interested in whether the law was broken. For all the faults in the system, it seems that the sunshine laws are doing what they’re supposed to - allowing voters to know what campaign money is spent on.

    Of course, it only matters if the FEC is a functional agency that can actually do its job…

  7. - ILPundit - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:05 am:

    It seems to me that Sen. Kirk should be rooting for former Sen. John Edwards to beat the rap in North Carolina, because the two episodes appear to be very, very similar.

    If Edwards goes down, Kirk will have huge exposure with the Feds.

  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:10 am:

    If Patterson Group made $1.85 million in media buys, roughly all of their net went to McCracken. Its a funnel.

    That said, Vertolli’s real beef here seems to be that Kirk concealed his girlfriend’s involvement in the campaign not from the public, but from her.

    Reading between the lines, Vertolli blames McCracken for destroying her marriage, and only agreed to support his campaign after Kirk promised to get rid of the girlfriend.

    He lied to her, and hell hath no fury like it.

  9. - Shore - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:12 am:

    This is a very sad day. Kimberly is an absolute rockstar and the kind of woman you want your daughter to grow up to be. I love Senator Kirk, but this is not good.

  10. - peacelover - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:18 am:

    Wow-Rich! ” On the bright side, all those vile rumors…are now proved false”.
    I’m no fan of Kirk, but you do an injustice to him by that comment & including links to those articles. p.s.just because a guy has ex’s, it doesn’t make him straight.

  11. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:19 am:

    peacelover, first you blast me for stating the obvious, then you try to continue the rumor yourself. Goodbye.

  12. - MrJM - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:31 am:

    On the bright side, all those vile rumors spread by people like Jack Roeser and Andy Martin are now proved false.

    … not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    – MrJM

  13. - Adam Smith - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:34 am:

    Shore, Vertolli is no “rock star.” She is obviously mercurial and vindictive. What’s more, she married him when he was already in office and knew how politics worked but she constantly contradicted Kirk’s positions publicly and caused lots of chaos in his career.

    Regarding the FEC complaint, it is very common that consultants sub contract other consultants to work on campaigns and everyone knew McCracken was working for Kirk. She had worked on most of his campaigns well before their relationship changed. This is a far cry from the Edwards debacle.

  14. - mark walker - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:42 am:

    I don’t care who’s got what skills, a romantic partner, or close family member, ought not be paid by any politician’s campaign fund, or government expense funds. If we are to have public trust, we have to hold ourselves to equal or higher standards than those in private industry. This shouldn’t require legal sanctions; it’s common sense.

    And of course this problem occurs across party lines. It’s another sad part of the culture of entitlement.

    Our best public servants simply choose not to do it

  15. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:43 am:

    =hey, can I ask you to not post on the blogs? You have unique authority and power with our message, wasting it on the blogosphere is beneath you and me — there will be moments for you to comment but I would not add your name to a post — sort of like Jackie O cmmenting (sic) on a blog …=

    Personally, I was awed by the great respect he obviously has for blogging. (That was snark, BTW.)

  16. - Shore - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:46 am:

    Rich, you’re smart enough to know that Senator Kirk is not gay and to not take those people seriously.

    Adam, they were engaged before he ran and when he did run in 1999 no one thought he would win. She’s a wonderful woman who was a great asset to him and is still widely liked in the district. When he was a member of the house there was exactly one story where there was “public disagreement” and this was a story written by lynn sweet who was always a kirk hater. The obamas have had a number of public differences on issues and it’s just how it goes. She’s a great woman and would have been a great asset for him and our state.

  17. - John A Logan - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    This post is a trap that I am not willing to step into.

  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    ===This post is a trap===

    It’s so comforting to see that your tinfoil hat is still firmly in place.

  19. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 10:50 am:

    =Regarding the FEC complaint, it is very common that consultants sub contract other consultants to work on campaigns and everyone knew McCracken was working for Kirk.=

    So sure about that last part? No one has yet managed to scrub the Felsenthal article where McCracken verified, her name, age, date of birth, where she worked AND the ?fact? that she was a “volunteer consultant.”

    Last time I checked, volunteers don’t get paid. Simply misremembering it wrong?

  20. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:26 am:

    Checking accounts are for the wives, but Campaign Money spent at the Copa is for the girlfriends.

  21. - amalia - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:26 am:

    Kirk released the McCracken?

  22. - LincolnLounger - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:32 am:

    The only thing “vile” is the ugly homophobia and bigotry repeatedly exhibited by Mr. Roeser and the pattern of misconduct displayed by Mr. Martin-Trigona (or whatever name he is using this week.)

    In trying to connect John Edwards’ alleged conduct with the bizarre allegations of Mr. Kirk’s ex-wife, ILPundit has reached a new low in naked partisanship. Congratulations!

  23. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:32 am:

    This reflects badly on all involved, and appears to be a legitimate complaint, but the fact that it is being brought by an ex-wife, and at this particular time given Sen. Kirk’s condition, strikes me as despicable. I’m sure Ms. Vertolli is doing this just to promote good government and fair and open elections. Hope she used better judgment in her military and CIA capacities.

  24. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:36 am:

    Ms. Vitrolli on her “hidden payment” …

    “MY payments weren’t hidden, you just couldn’t see them …”

    Ms McCracken on her role in the payments …

    “If I got money, how my boyfriend declares it to be paid is not up to me …”

    These are snark.

  25. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:37 am:

    The complaint was filed long before Mr. Kirk had his stroke. And, the publicity might be grounded in the fact that Mr. Kirk is now doing better (i.e., is appearing in public and in front of cameras). Ms. Vertolli might feel that what he’s doing shouldn’t warrant a pass…now that he’s feeling better. (That’s not an opinion…nowhere did I state my opinion.) It’s merely speculation on my part.

  26. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:38 am:

    =Hope she used better judgment in her military and CIA capacities.=

    That could also apply to Kirk.

  27. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:50 am:

    Kirk must of had some idea his ex might be a bit hostile, you would think he would want to distance himself a lot more than working with her.

  28. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:54 am:

    Nice to see he thinks a Dem first lady is the height of class. No Nancy Reagan lol.

  29. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 11:55 am:

    =Kirk and McCracken lived together in Illinois and Washington, D.C., from about June 2011 until January, Elk said.=

    Wasn’t Manchin, Kirk’s best buddy in the Senate–after the stroke–talking about how the “Kirks” (Adler Planetarium caption) and the Manchins “do things together as a foursome?”

    Fiction doesn’t get any better than this.

  30. - John A Logan - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    == It’s so comforting to see that your tinfoil hat is still firmly in place. ==

    Just polished it up this weekend. It was getting a little dingy around the edges.

  31. - Palatine - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    Is he looking for a new girl friend? Sign me up

  32. - The Captain - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 12:53 pm:

    Alexi Giannoulias is ten times the man that this hush money huckster is. It’s just too bad the hush money huckster had bags and bags of money to spend.

    Get your hush money business in order Senator, you appear to be doing it wrong.

  33. - Aaron - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:03 pm:

    @Adam Smith So, political spouses should just shut the heck up and not be independent people? It might not be smart for Vertolli to publicly disagree with her (now ex-) husband, but she’s perfectly within her rights to do so. In fact, I think it speaks well to the fact that spouses, specifically wives, don’t have to be chained to their husbands like it’s the middle ages.

  34. - One to the Dome - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:26 pm:

    I dare anyone to pay the “ex” less then the current “friend”. I’m no Oprah but yep, your gonna have a problem.

  35. - Shore - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:46 pm:

    Alexi was awful and his candidacy was an embarrassment to the state, at least Alan Keyes and Carol Mosely Braun could explain the difference between Iraq and Iran. Kimberly was never a negative in any of his races and her moderate liberal social views were line with much of the district and then rep kirks.

    I have been one of the senator’s most staunch supporters on this blog and will continue to be because he’s a great statesman and a refreshing contrast to cook county and springfield, but this thing is a major disappointment for me in both his team and him. Since seals started to give him a scare a few years ago he’s lacked the leadership consistency, confidence and poise that we really have always liked about him. It’s like he’s driving a car on a highway and zigging and zagging all over the place now. No direction. Senator if you’re reading this please just go back to being Mark Kirk. Get healthy and also stop trying to be dick durbin(who is every bad thing you are not)’s buddy.

  36. - Team Sleep - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    Eventually one of these familial campaign payroll complaints needs to be heard by the Supreme Court. It’s a serious issue - not as serious as “Citizens United vs. FEC” but it needs addressed. As FEC regulations and Congressional ethics become more and more restrictive, these types of ghost payroll maneuvers and decisions to put spouses, kids, frat buddies, etc. on a privately-funded payroll to beat the enforcers will happen more often. The easiest thing to do is to just not make such payments and explain to family members, girlfriends and pals that it’s better to refrain from questionable activities. If Kirk were still a Congressman, this is the type of activity that could sink his reelection efforts.

  37. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:00 pm:

    =No direction.=

    Some might argue that his direction has been very clear, and that he’s been moving full speed forward (beep beep). There’s alot of consistency there.

  38. - Employ Me - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:04 pm:

    I don’t get the complaint at all. There’s an employee of a company with a relationship with the client. But how was Kirk supposed to report it on his FEC filings? I presume the consultant firm paid her expenses, her benefits, etc.

    This is done routinely.

  39. - titan - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    Family on campaign staffs seems to be more the norm than an exception. Is the issue that there was “hard to see through” subcontracting?

    Or is the allegation that no work was done for the money paid out?

  40. - John Parnell - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:07 pm:

    If you take the Patterson Groups receipt of $185,000 and subtract tax withholding. It comes close to $143,000. Then It all went to Doody. More here than meets the eye.

  41. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:10 pm:

    I thought the Patterson Group got close to two million.

  42. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:28 pm:

    Well, it’s good to know he’s still tweeting as if nothing’s going on.

  43. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:50 pm:

    lol Best one yet from Wonkette’s blog:

    “This was so confusing, I had to write down the names of the various characters and who was doing what to whom. In the end, I had a John Le Carré novel and the conclusion …?”

  44. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 2:51 pm:

    Next stop: late night talk shows. Uh oh.

  45. - Phineas Fogg - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 5:47 pm:

    I am in agreement with Wordslinger on this one. Nothing can be more terrifying than a woman scorned, at least when it comes to political careers. I wonder if Mark Kirk is wondering “why in the world did I ever marry that woman?”

  46. - wishbone - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 5:56 pm:

    “Alexi Giannoulias is ten times the man that this hush money huckster is.”

    Mob ties notwithstanding.

  47. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 7:38 pm:

    When did McCracken and the Senator break up — before or after his January 21 stroke? Could all this pressure have caused the stroke?

  48. - Anonymous - Tuesday, May 29, 12 @ 9:47 pm:

    =I wonder if Mark Kirk is wondering “why in the world did I ever marry that woman?”=

    Or, “Why did I treat her so poorly by bringing around, and exposing her to, McCracken?”

    I wonder whether she was *fleeing* from the paparazzi while waving her finger. But then again, maybe she wasn’t fleeing.

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