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Pols shelling out big bucks for legal fees

Friday, Jan 17, 2020

* We discussed yesterday how Speaker Madigan’s campaign committee spent over $445,000 on legal fees during the fourth quarter. Here’s Paris Schutz at WTTW

Madigan isn’t the only public official providing paychecks to Chicago-area attorneys. Campaign disclosures show that McCook Mayor and Democratic Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski paid $200,000 in legal fees in the last quarter; $100,000 went to the law firm of Blaine & Vanzant, and another $100,000 to Walsh, Fewkes & Sterba. Federal agents raided Tobolski’s home and the village headquarters of McCook on Sept. 26. Tobolski, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, has not commented about the federal probe. His campaign fund is not nearly as robust as Madigan’s: he raised $5,750 in the last quarter and has about $225,744 available.

On the same day Tobolski was targeted, federal agents sacked the home and offices of former state Sen. Martin Sandoval. Sandoval reported paying $90,000 in legal fees in the last quarter and stepped down from the General Assembly amid the federal probe.

Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, 14th Ward, paid nearly $400,000 in legal fees from his campaign account in the last quarter, according to state campaign disclosures. The payments went to high-profile attorneys at two white-collar defense firms – Jenner & Block and Loeb & Loeb, who are defending Burke in a 14-count federal indictment. Burke has nearly $12 million in campaign cash across multiple funds he controls.

Chicago Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th Ward, spent $40,000 in legal fees in the last quarter – paid to the law firm of Clark Hill. Austin reported raised only $700 in the last quarter and has around $30,000 available, according to state filings. Federal agents raided Austin’s ward office last June. Austin has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Former Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) reported reimbursing his spouse Maribel $10,000 on November 11th for legal fees that she paid “with personal funds.” Arroyo was arrested by the feds in late October and his indictment has been postponed until February 20th. He had close to $228K in his campaign account at the end of the year.

* Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) paid his attorney $25,000 in October out of his campaign fund. He was indicted last summer.

Sen. Cullerton reported having just $240.31 in the bank at the end of the fourth quarter. But he’s still raising money.

Cullerton reported receiving almost $10,000 last quarter from contributors including AFSCME Council 31, ComEd, Comcast and (are you ready?) the Illinois Policy PAC. That’s the campaign arm of the Illinois Policy Institute. It contributed $2,000.

…Adding… Cullerton returned the Illinois Policy PAC check. He apparently didn’t want to be associated with them.

…Adding… Matt Praprocki with Illinois Policy…

The check was cancelled, not returned.

Noted. This post is killing me.

…Adding… I just did something I’ve criticized others for doing and I’m upset at myself. I jumped to a conclusion by looking at contribution dates. As I’ve said many times before, the receive date is when the check is deposited. AFSCME tells me their contribution was actually made in June. Ugh! Sorry! I will listen to myself more often!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

13 Comments
  1. - North - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 10:23 am:

    Any Terry Link legal fees reported?


  2. - City Zen - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 10:27 am:

    Tom Cullerton returned the $2,000 Illinois Policy PAC contribution. There’s a corresponding “Charge back- cancelled check” under expenditures.


  3. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 10:30 am:

    North, no. CZ, that’s hilarious. Thanks!


  4. - JSS - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 10:31 am:

    Anyone else think that prohibiting campaign funds from being used in criminal cases involving the candidate is a good idea?

    I’m not sure how much of a deterrent to actually committing crimes it would be, but it rankles me a bit that committee funds can be used.

    Sure use them for legal disputes stemming from a campaign, and maybe the Madigan issues should be permitted, but something about using campaign funds for the the criminal defense of the candidate/elected official bothers me.


  5. - Steve - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 10:36 am:

    Cullerton has standards . The IPI is a step beyond. Cullerton prefers to associate with other groups that have been known to have made headlines for labor issues. Go figure…


  6. - Cubs in '16 - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 10:57 am:

    Pols are doing all they can to fuel the economy. /s


  7. - Fav Human - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 11:02 am:

    I guess if you are an elected official, there are two times you need to be really hard working at fundraising:

    1) You want a leadership spot

    2) You plan to be less than totally ethical….


  8. - thelaw - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 11:03 am:

    == Anyone else think that prohibiting campaign funds from being used in criminal cases involving the candidate is a good idea? ==

    You’re assuming some of these charges relate to criminal cases or personal criminal cases. It is already illegal at both the state and federal level to use campaign dollars for personal expenses. There are severe legal and tax implications those individuals who violate those laws.


  9. - southsider - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 11:07 am:

    Any politician or political committee that doesn’t consult with an attorney and an accountant is playing with fire. There are so many different laws, rules, and interpretations related to how political committees should operate and what they can/cannot do. It gets more complicated if you have employees or contractors. I find it interesting that every committee isn’t reporting some type of legal and accounting fees.


  10. - Epton John - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 11:09 am:

    Jeff Orr is all over this. He’s very above board. His family hasn’t formed a progressive machine or anything.


  11. - Soo.. - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 11:13 am:

    Anyone noticed Sen Victory Fund gave Sandoval back $60k. I understand the argument on giving up tainted money, but give it to charity. This is just $60k that will used to cover legal fees.

    https://illinoissunshine.org/contributions/5326113/


  12. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 11:25 am:

    Wonder why the IPI would give to someone like Cullerton, to argue to the public that it’s a genuine non-partisan “institute” and not the right wing organization it really is?


  13. - Southeast - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 11:46 am:

    Checkout some of these red light camera Mayors.


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