Chicago mayoral hopeful Susana Mendoza received a big infusion of campaign cash last year from the political organization of Ald. Danny Solis (25th Ward) — who is a mole in the federal corruption investigation against powerful Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward).
Records show Solis’ 25th Ward Regular Democratic Organization gave $55,400 on March 15 to Mendoza. She was re-elected as Illinois comptroller in November, but promptly declared her candidacy for mayor in next month’s election. […]
“If Danny Solis is charged with wrongdoing, Susana will donate the contribution,” the spokeswoman, Rebecca Evans, said in a statement sent to WBEZ.
On the same day as the contribution from Solis, Mendoza received another $45,200 from five companies whose board members are investors in a firm founded by Solis’ sister Patti Doyle Solis and one of the alderman’s longtime supporters, lawyer Brian Hynes.
That company, Vendor Assistance Program LLC, is based in Chicago and has been a major beneficiary of a program to speed payments to government contractors owed money from the state.
* Mendoza has since changed her mind…
Today, Susana Mendoza released the below statement announcing she is donating all contributions received from VAP affiliated organizations and individuals and Danny Solis’ political committees to the Montford Point Marines, and calling on Toni Preckwinkle to end her lies and follow Susana’s lead on providing transparency. Attached is a check proving Susana Mendoza’s donation to the Montford Point Marines.
“I am donating $73,900 received from Danny Solis’ political organizations and $67,650 received from VAP related organizations and individuals to the very worthy Montford Point Marines war heroes and veterans to save their chapter hall in Englewood and help fund critical repairs. These were legal contributions that were fully disclosed as is required by law. Nonetheless, given new information that has come to light regarding these individuals and organizations, my value system dictates that I immediately donate these funds to this worthy cause. I call on Toni Preckwinkle to do the same within 24 hours with the $116,000 she received from the Ed Burke fundraiser that is now the subject of an FBI criminal complaint. By waiting until the end of March to return this tainted money, she is choosing to use dirty money to get her through this mayoral election. That’s shameful. From accepting an illegal campaign contribution from an alleged extortion scheme, to covering up sexual harassment allegations against her chief of staff, to firing the head of her security detail to cover up using a county vehicle for political purposes, to yesterday’s revelation of a patronage hiring, it’s clear that Toni Preckwinkle is the boss of the party bosses and is the last person who can be trusted to end this backroom culture of corruption she’s been a part of over the last quarter of a century.”
* From the comptroller’s office…
Due to the catastrophic budget impasse, the state racked up more than $1 billion in late payment interest penalties. Comptroller Mendoza was the first public official to loudly raise the alarm about this wasteful spending. She has also criticized the lack of transparency surrounding the state’s Vendor Payment Program (VPP) since she first took office.
Not only has Comptroller Mendoza prioritized social services, schools, universities, healthcare and pensions ahead of qualified purchasers during the budget impasse, she also championed the Vendor Payment Program Transparency Act to shed light on the program. For the first time since the program’s creation, qualified purchasers and the program’s financial backers are now displayed in a monthly report on the Comptroller’s Office Website.
Representatives of the purchasers went before a legislative committee in the spring to bemoan that fact that they felt they were not being paid quickly enough. The Vendor Payment Program played an important role in keeping many vendors afloat during Illinois’ 793-day impasse. The state owes these interest penalties, and they will be paid. But there is still a $7.7 billion backlog of unpaid bills that the Comptroller’s office must triage. In paying those bills, Comptroller Mendoza will do what she has always done: prioritize education and care for the state’s most vulnerable residents.
Things to know:
As far as I can tell, there’s no evidence that Mendoza gave Vendor Assistance Program LLC any preferential treatment. But campaigns being campaigns, this is probably a wise move. The check was written out of her Friends For Susana Mendoza account, which is her statewide account, and it pretty much wipes out all the money left in that fund.