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Toia’s unregistered lobbying and Tunney’s “mistake”

Monday, Dec 7, 2020

* Crain’s last month

[Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia] met with the governor in early November with plans to propose policy recommendations that include partial reopening. […]

Toia—already a high-energy, nonstop worker—is constantly working the phones. Boehm estimates he’s called Toia hundreds of times since the pandemic began. Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, owner of the Ann Sather restaurant chain and a former chairman of the association, says Toia is talking to leaders as often as possible, too, even amid tensions.

“The mayor and the governor—this is pretty unusual—they’re talking to the restaurant association every week,” Tunney says. […]

Toia’s focus is on negotiating with Pritzker, whose orders take precedence over city rules.

Proposing policy recommendations, talking with the governor on a weekly basis, negotiating with the governor. Hmm.

* From the Illinois Lobbyist Registration Act

“Lobby” and “lobbying” means any communication with an official of the executive or legislative branch of State government as defined in subsection (c) for the ultimate purpose of influencing any executive, legislative, or administrative action.

Yet, Toia is not registered. I’ve been asking the Restaurant Association why he hasn’t registered for weeks, and the answer has been that he isn’t required to do so, even though he has registered with the city.

* Anyway, I was reminded of that long-dormant story when I read this one

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) acknowledged Monday he “made a mistake” by allowing some of his regular customers to dine inside his Ann Sather Restaurants in defiance of state and city orders banning indoor dining. […]

On Monday, Tunney openly acknowledged having defied the governor’s order.

“We have, on occasion, sat regular diners in the back of the restaurant. I acknowledge that. It’s not OK. I made a mistake, and I’m owning up to it. I should have not sat regular customers in my restaurant whatsoever,” said Tunney, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s handpicked chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee.

“I have a lot of repeat customers over the years. On a sporadic basis, I have let regular customers — very few and far between — in my store. I made an error.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

29 Comments
  1. - Marquee - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 1:48 pm:

    The Zoning committee chairman and a Zoning Board of Appeals member


  2. - James the Intolerant - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 1:48 pm:

    Tunney is owning up to it because it was made public.


  3. - lake county democrat - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 1:49 pm:

    Yet Tunney hung up on the Sun-Times reporter when they asked for an estimate of how many customers he had served. Sporadic my attic.


  4. - Rocket - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 1:52 pm:

    How can a registered lobbyist serve on a board or commission?


  5. - Gravy Bond - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 1:54 pm:

    I enjoy the Steak & Eggs Benedict at Ann’s.


  6. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 1:56 pm:

    Toia’s going to say he’s not paid or reimbursed more than $500 for that work?


  7. - Watcher of the Skies - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 1:58 pm:

    All the businesses complying with the Governor and Mayor’s orders in this ward, and Tunney chooses to do that? He should resign.


  8. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:00 pm:

    Health and safety protocols? Who needs ‘em, especially when you’re Alderman Tunney, who astute observers might remember promised to sell his restaurants when he became an alderman.

    But the just total refusal of even our leaders to try to stick this thing through reminds of this line from Charlie in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: “I live in give up America.”


  9. - NSide Political Observer - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:06 pm:

    https://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/CommitteeDetail.aspx?ID=S8CwCEJk14rUK%2bFqTTZgfA%3d%3d&T=637429461630918515

    Toia has desperately been hanging around politics and politicians for decades. At heart he’s more politician than lobbyist, but couldn’t get elected when he ran for commiteeman.

    I’m surprised he hasn’t run for public office again. Presumably he could be a Dem version of Oberweis–the Milk Dud.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:07 pm:

    I’m always confused why those in these positions choose ways that seemingly go against what they honestly hope for an outcome?

    Can’t register? Really? Can’t do that?

    Gotta be open for a select few? Really? Gotta do that?

    I look to those leading to do the simple things as easily as when they need to do the difficult things to be part of the solution and lead within these easy rules.

    Will both see a bigger picture to their situations or will they see these “gotcha” moments as ways they are victims to others looking for these moments?


  11. - Amalia - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:10 pm:

    Serving a side of arrogance with those cinnamon rolls.


  12. - Rutro - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:14 pm:

    Is there something that would deter him from registering?


  13. - 1st Ward - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:21 pm:

    Anything less than revocation of his business/liquor license by the Gov and the Mayor removing from committees is a slap in the face. Given some other recent issues with Tunney as well resignation from city council might be appropriate.

    https://blockclubchicago.org/2020/06/30/wealthy-family-blocks-off-park-district-land-for-its-own-front-yard-inspector-general-alleges/


  14. - Crash - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:34 pm:

    I’m sort of surprised by Tunney not because he opened but because I did a search and could not find evidence of him speaking out against the Governor’s and Mayor’s restaurant orders. I sort of assumed he of all people would be out there talking about the impact on the industry and I haven’t found evidence of it.

    I get him breaking the rules. The industry is being killed. What I don’t get is his failure to use his posiiton to support the entire industry. Someone in power needs to speak up and he’s one of the few who could do it effectively.


  15. - 4 percent - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:35 pm:

    The Secretary of State should investigate and penalize Sam for failing to register. He’s flaunted the law for years.


  16. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:37 pm:

    Registration for thee, not for me. It is pretty rampant in certain circles.


  17. - 47th Ward - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:41 pm:

    How many of Tunney’s “regular customers” are also elected officials?


  18. - 1st Ward - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:48 pm:

    “I get him breaking the rules.”

    Chicago Alders starting salary is 6 figures. The restaurant is likely (if not certainly) a secondary source of revenue for him unlike the owner of a diner who doesn’t view the diner as passive income or a hobby but their livelihood.


  19. - Been There - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:49 pm:

    I don’t see any grey area where Sam should not be registered. He is obviously compensated to do that. But I guarantee if we were still going to the Capitol to lobby the association would find the $300 plus their cost to register him. Just so he could get the badge and not have to empty his pockets at security.


  20. - 1st Ward - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:57 pm:

    “I get him breaking the rules.”

    He receives a 6 figure salary as an alder. How many restaurant owners have 6 figure side jobs or are owning restaurants as a “hobby” or secondary source of income?


  21. - Centennial - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:59 pm:

    Why would Toia not register? It’s a simple compliance issue.

    Although, in his defense (I guess) lots of others pretend to do “advocacy” and not register. Doesn’t make of any of it kosher though.


  22. - Todd - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:38 pm:

    its another example that while the Mayor demands compliance from her subjects, she does what ever she wants because, after all she has to look good on TV as a public figure.

    Fine example of leadership for the alderman who is just another one of the hypocrites expecting compliance from those in the ward then doing just the opposite.

    you only get to govern so long as you have the consent of the governed, and from the looks of it in many places that consent is lacking.


  23. - Derek - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:45 pm:

    Tunney should know better. But I’ll still vote for him over whatever stooge the Ricketts put up. Tunney does a good job for the ward.


  24. - Montrose - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:04 pm:

    What a silly thing for Toia to avoid doing. Just register. Avoiding it and making excuses for why you don’t need to only leads to more questions and speculation.


  25. - eh? - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:32 pm:

    It’s common knowledge that Sam has never been registered despite him participating personally in meetings with policymakers.

    It is just accepted and understood that certain things apply to some while not others under the Dome.

    Nothing will happen and this will be forgotten.


  26. - Advocate - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:57 pm:

    Toia would have to report all his meals and expenses spent on legislators. He doesn’t want to. So he doesn’t register. Hasn’t even when we did go to Springfield and he might have wanted to bypass the more stringent security.


  27. - Been There - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 5:16 pm:

    === Toia would have to report all his meals and expenses spent on legislators. He doesn’t want to. So he doesn’t register. Hasn’t even when we did go to Springfield and he might have wanted to bypass the more stringent security.===

    Well that’s pretty much the whole point of the law. The rest of us have to do it every two weeks whether we spend or not. But in the end it’s pretty easy to do.

    === Nothing will happen and this will be forgotten.===

    Well then I want a refund. I figure about 20 years at $300 per the SOS should give me back about $6000. And probably about $500 for the fines I get every once in awhile and don’t file on time.


  28. - West Side the Best Side - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 7:36 pm:

    Tunney’s actions are the kinds of things that just hurt the fight against Covid when we’ve got leaders who go the “Do as I say, not as I do” route.


  29. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Dec 9, 20 @ 8:19 am:

    === Anything less than revocation of his business/liquor license by the Gov and the Mayor removing from committees is a slap in the face. Given some other recent issues with Tunney as well resignation from city council might be appropriate.===

    He did get fined over $10,000. As far as continuing being an alderman that is up to his constituents.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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