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LIG weaponized in Senate campaign

Friday, Apr 29, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This “complaint” is based on numerous false assumptions and gigantic leaps of faith. But, of course, the media outlet didn’t bother to run anything down before spreading this goofiness

DIRTY LAUNDRY? A complaint was filed yesterday with the Legislative Inspector General, claiming state Sen. Melinda Bush has filed false documents, and engaged in pay-to-play and money laundering schemes with her political accounts and private business.

The complaint also claims Bush held an illegal fundraiser during the legislative session, and it accuses former state Rep. Mary Edly-Allen of laundering money from a campaign account to a personal account.

The allegations are going to shake up an already heated primary to replace Bush, who isn’t running for reelection. The Lake County Democrat is backing Edly-Allen, a former state rep, who’s facing current state Rep. Sam Yingling in the Democratic primary.

The LIG complaint was filed by good government advocate Jan Czarnik, the former executive director of the League of Women Voters in Illinois. “I believe that corruption must be called out and that those of us familiar with how Springfield operates have a responsibility to do so,” Czarnik said in a statement to Playbook.

Bush did not immediately respond to our late request for comment.

That “illegal fundraiser” was actually a meet and greet. I was there. No tickets were sold. Also, the whole money laundering allegation is beyond a stretch. And the Legislative Inspector General is limited to investigating public office-related items, not private life or campaign-related things, which even the spokesperson who distributed the press release admitted knowing about. But, hey, they got their campaign advertising fodder, so mission accomplished.

* Response from Sen. Bush…

“While it shouldn’t surprise anyone when flailing, floundering campaigns resort to dirty political attacks, weaponizing the Office of the LIG to lob false, frivolous complaints is an extraordinary new low. In today’s environment, we should hold every member of the General Assembly to the highest of standards and that not only applies to our actions in the chamber, but also our activities in political campaigns. When I led the passage of groundbreaking ethics reform in the Senate, it certainly wasn’t designed to allow members of this chamber to abuse it as a tool to forward their political agenda. Sadly, that’s exactly what is happening today and shame on them for doing so as these attacks are based in political fiction, not reality.”

BACKGROUND:

“Pay to Play”

    • This complaint falsely alleges that there is a pay to play scheme happening, but no one at For the People has taken a salary.

    • The Lake County Democratic Women gave Judge Rochford its award before Rochford’s campaign had ever paid For the People.

“Money Laundering”

    • Mary Edly-Allen has made numerous contributions to the Lake County Democratic Women over the years, and she was hired by the board to serve as the Executive Director for a period of time. When she first ran for office, Edly-Allen stepped down from the Lake County Democratic Women. When she opened her campaign account, she said that if she ever disbanded the account, she would send the money to the Lake County Democratic Women.

    • The Lake County Democratic Women is a grassroots organization dedicated to helping the women of Lake County build connections in their community, get involved, and work toward reaching the goal of women making up 51% of those in office.

“Illegal Fundraiser”

    • The alleged fundraiser mentioned in the complaint was not a fundraiser. It was a “meet and greet” opportunity for candidates to get together at the Sangamon Club. There was no payment or donations made for admittance as it was a free event.

“For The People”

    • For the People, LLC incorporated using a digital service called ZenBusiness. While we correctly listed our identities and personal information with the service, ZenBusiness acknowledged an automation error that led to my name being changed from ‘Melinda Bush’ to ‘Melinda Meyer’ when our paperwork was filed with the State of Illinois.” The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office acknowledged the error by Zen Business, and is taking steps to rectify the records retroactively.

    • When Senator Bush filed her 2021 statement of economic interest, the LLC had yet to take in any money. By the end of 2021, it had taken in $6,000, far below the $10,000 threshold for requiring to file an updated statement of economic interest.

Bush provided me documentation showing that ZenBusiness had accidentally used the last name of the other person on the incorporation filing, Nickolas Meyer, as her last name. So, she appears on the filing as Melinda Meyer.

       

34 Comments
  1. - Homebody - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:00 am:

    Modern journalism is understaffed and overworked. Even if there is no actual malice involved, the complete willingness to take statements from certain parties at face value and make zero efforts to verify any claims is contributing to the ease at which misinformation permeates the public consciousness.

    It feels like 90% of political, legal, or crime related articles are are mostly just repeating what a police department, elected official, candidate, or interested party said in a press release or complaint. If you’re lucky, the journalist will reach out to the other side for a comment. Then the reporter washes their hands of it and calls it day, saying “Well we told both sides of the story, so we were reporting neutrally. Job well done.” But they never actually bothered to check if one side or the other was blatantly lying or distorting the facts.


  2. - North Sider - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:05 am:

    The fact that Shia knew this and ran with the story is just another example of why we need a new playbook author. For someone who yields that kind of influence - we expect better from her.


  3. - Campaign Nerd - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:06 am:

    The LIG is a legitimate and important check on serious ethics problems in Illinois. It’s unconscionable that political hacks would use the office for their own personal gain.


  4. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:07 am:

    “A complaint was filed”

    ugh.

    “A lawsuit was filed against a downstate man, claiming he ate all the cheese on the moon.”

    The mere act of filing something doesn’t automatically give the claims in it any validity.

    Using the perceived authority of a government agency or group, to attach your asinine claims to in the hopes of that perceived authority also rubbing off on your claims, seems to be a common trick used by the desperate.


  5. - anon2 - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:09 am:

    Cheap shots like this alleging corruption where none exists makes politics seem slimier and deters people from running for office.


  6. - Ridiculous! - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:14 am:

    I hope whoever is behind this is exposed.


  7. - SpiDem - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:20 am:

    Shame on Shia and Politico for taking a a press release filled with overheated, over the top and unsubstantiated accusations and printing it without even the slightest bit of due diligence. I honestly can’t recall a similar case of journalistic malpractice like this in Illinois in the nearly 30 years I’ve been working in this arena.

    And frankly, the Yingling campaign and his supporters, who obviously had to be behind this, look like absolute fools filing something this bizarre.


  8. - Dem Unity - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:20 am:

    If you believe what Melinda is selling here, I have a $999.99 in-kind donation to send you… just like that lobbyist donation…


  9. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:24 am:

    ===If you believe what Melinda is selling here===

    lol


  10. - wow now - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:26 am:

    Shia has the reputation she has because she does not fact check

    Seems like the accusations are a big stretch, but I guess you have to say well played by her opponents


  11. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:29 am:

    There’s enough there to make noise, the “gotcha” to the LIG makes that weaponizing so unnecessary… except for the politics.

    Shi’a is not a talented reporter, but an enabler to any idea of a possible “gotcha”.

    It’s like Shia is the accidental Brian Timpone, but might actually believe she’s “reporting”?


  12. - Former Downstater - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:30 am:

    ==And frankly, the Yingling campaign and his supporters, who obviously had to be behind this, look like absolute fools filing something this bizarre.==

    It’s SOP for them. When I read the “complaint” I thought the same thing. It’s like a conspiracy theorist white board full of yarn tying this person to that person to that person…


  13. - vern - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:33 am:

    Whew, ok, a lot going on here. Let me start with where I agree with Senator Bush.

    1. The complaint is poorly drafted, histrionic, and clearly a campaign document. It’s hard to blame any rational person for looking at it and deciding that it’s nonsense.
    2. The “fake name” allegation is just bogus. The explanation she gave is very reasonable and fits the facts. If she wanted to hide her involvement, why put any of her info on the paperwork at all? It could’ve just been registered in Nick Meyer’s name.
    3. I don’t know how strongly I can say this without getting screened out, but the reporter who first ran this should think long and hard about their track record as steward of that outlet.

    With that said, I do think the substance of the complaint raises some questions Senator Bush hasn’t yet answered.

    1. The event may not have been a fundraiser, but every candidate listed did file A-1s within a few days of the event. This includes an A-1 to Senator Bush’s campaign for an in-kind donation for the event from the beer distributors (https://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/A1List.aspx?FiledDocID=ZyaozmB%2b%2fKYC%2f9hmB0vI2Q%3d%3d&ContributionType=wOGh3QTPfKqV2YWjeRmjTeStk426RfVK&Archived=I0cuvBFuZRw%3d&T=637868276019703445). I’m not 100% sure on the contours of the law, but having a “meet and greet” paid for by an interest group doesn’t seem like it meets the spirit of the statute.
    2. I’m not yet persuaded by Senator Bush’s explanation for the money moving from her committee and allied committees into an LLC she controls. Her committee hasn’t paid For The People directly, which I think everyone agrees would be improper. But does one extra layer of committee really change that so much? By donating to, endorsing, and taking payments from the same candidates, Senator Bush has built a financial ecosystem of a type that has gotten people in trouble before.
    3. Mary Edly-Allen donated the balance of her campaign account to a committee that then hired her. I believe that she’s a supporter of the organization, but that’s not actually a defense of everyone’s actions here. It’s still a relatively direct transfer of campaign dollars to salary.
    4. I know Senator Bush has a reputation for ethical conduct, but her statement that an LLC that receives money for campaign work isn’t paying anyone is… odd. “They only paid my company, not me” isn’t a very strong denial. And if there’s no intention for For The People to ever pay anyone a salary, what’s it for? Senator Bush’s clients (for lack of a better term) could just pay vendors directly for whatever services the LLC is procuring.


  14. - Too cute by half - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:36 am:

    Agreed with OW. Maybe the complaint wasn’t fully vetted but the retort doesn’t seem 100% either. Her staff could have gotten that paperwork error cleaned up quickly, they have contacts at the SoS office that could have done this so quickly.


  15. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:38 am:

    ===Maybe the complaint wasn’t fully vetted===

    Most hilarious understatement of the week. That complaint is almost actionable.


  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:40 am:

    Getting a lot of first-time IP addresses on this post.


  17. - The Great North - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:44 am:

    Such a surprise to see the Bush state office team has the hours in the day.

    Props to their scheduler, to be working what I see as 3 different likely full time jobs in the same day, run campaigns, consult and collect state benefits. Makes up for no pay from the start up I guess.

    Even mjm had his teams leave payroll when full time was needed on campaigns.


  18. - Tony - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:46 am:

    == Bush did not immediately respond to our late request for comment. ==

    Late request? That is inexcusable by Shia. You can’t run an extensive hit piece like that without giving the target a chance to respond.

    == lol ==

    Lots of nonsense in that complaint. But @Dem Unity is not completely out of line. If a veteran lobbyist did indeed cut a $999.99 check, they’re begging for extra scrutiny.


  19. - Hyperbolic Chamber - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:49 am:

    Was this “complaint” filed on one of those old overhead projector transparencies? Was it written in crayon? Because it is childish and you can see right through it.

    I’m all for working hard for a candidate and using legit opposition research in a campaign, but totally fabricating a complaint and weaponizing an ethics law [**irony alert**] is way beyond the pale.

    This non-issue is another disheartening example of the depths that politics in this country has reached. Well done. I hope you’re proud of yourselves up there.


  20. - BWA - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:50 am:

    Politico or her editors have to rein in the “press-release-island-of-misfit-toys” routine they’ve got going on. Not everything *has* to be published. And all things deserve at least a passing vet.


  21. - Lulu in Lake - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:51 am:

    Wow, this really seems like a sign that Bush and the candidates she is supporting are scaring the pants of their opponents. You don’t do this when you feel confident about your race. Everyone in his house district says that Yingling only wins because no one wants to roll around in the mud with him in a primary, and this is why. He can’t win on his record, so he has to beat the stuffing out of people in any dirty way he can. No wonder Illinois has problems, if he’s the shining example the party sets.


  22. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:53 am:

    ===begging for extra scrutiny===

    Maybe, but it was disclosed anyway, which is how we know about it.


  23. - Left of the Lake - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 11:58 am:

    This has been percolating in Lake County circles for a while, just first time I’ve seen it reported on.

    Maybe it doesn’t rise to the level of illegal and not all these issues would be covered by the LIG, but the idea of running a political consulting firm to build personal income off other campaigns, that you then endorse and support, with your state employees who are already doing double duty.

    To me, the whole situation just doesn’t feel like the most open and ethical way to do it.


  24. - SpiDem - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 12:07 pm:

    Re: @Rich Miller at 11:53 am

    Rich is exactly right. The lunacy of this complaint is perfectly encapsulated in the fact that they try to allege this scheme to conduct “money laundering” and efforts to conceal campaign contributions and spending — and its all based on publicly available documents where everything was disclosed by law.

    News flash: As a general rule, people who engage in financial shenanigan don’t publicly disclose their illegal activities.

    I read the complaint. It was so dumb, it I think if forced my IQ to drop by about 15-20 points.


  25. - Shytown - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 12:15 pm:

    == but the idea of running a political consulting firm to build personal income off other campaigns, that you then endorse and support ==

    Do you have proof that “personal income” was made? I think there’s been enough falsehoods made already here.

    Legitimate oppo research is one thing. This is another. PR people who push false oppo like this and the clients they push it out on behalf of should be held accountable.


  26. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 12:17 pm:

    ===Agreed with OW===

    I wrote…

    ===It’s like Shia is the accidental Brian Timpone===

    The accident is finding things. Wasn’t arguing merits.


  27. - Torco Sign - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 12:20 pm:

    “Do you have proof that ‘personal income’ was made? I think there’s been enough falsehoods made already here.”

    For the People, LLC isn’t a multinational corporation lol. There are two people–Melinda Bush and her righthand man. The LLC was paid. What sort of mental gymnastics are you playing to avoid saying she was paid?


  28. - vern - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 12:22 pm:

    === News flash: As a general rule, people who engage in financial shenanigan don’t publicly disclose their illegal activities. ===

    I think I’d be careful with this one. In the past few years, there’s been something of a trend of people thinking they could get away with stuff if they just do it in the open and don’t apologize. Not saying it’s a one-to-one parallel, but I don’t think it’s the cleanest generalization to make.


  29. - Kiss my Grits - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 12:24 pm:

    As soon as I read the article written about this complaint, I knew it as nothing more then mere political games. I mean, the timing alone, Come on.

    There are real issues happening to real people.

    Look up those who are sending this around. The woman who filed is photographed quite often with Yingling in recent times. I wouldn’t be surprised to find links to the author and Yingling himself at this point.

    Men all too often try to shut down women as they find there political place. Bush is a clear target as she found her place and actively helps other women find theirs. That seems to be all she or any others mentioned are guilty of.

    When someone commits political crimes, they should go down. To take our system and abuse it like this when there is so much more to work to do for the people is quite shameful.


  30. - Torco Sign - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 1:18 pm:

    She filed the LLC in 2020 and her name (for an LLC with a public official being paid for political consulting) still hasn’t been changed yet?


  31. - Shytown - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 1:28 pm:

    Torco sign, I think you’re reading the room wrong – unless you have some skin in the game here? Provide proof of your claim or shut the conjecture down. And if you think this is the first or last time an LLC or related filing didn’t have an error in it you should ask the folks at the SOS about that.


  32. - 80's TV - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 1:42 pm:

    == $999.99 ==

    Didn’t know Earl Scheib was a lobbyist.


  33. - Scrutinize - Friday, Apr 29, 22 @ 3:50 pm:

    The sheer disrespect of using the LIG as a political weapon and the shoddy, lazy reporting. (Gosh, I miss Korecki). I think we all know who’s behind this and I thought even they were smarter than this. Clearly panicked and making rash, ill-informed decisions that will probably end up hurting them more than Bush, as Bush has done nothing wrong.


  34. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 2, 22 @ 10:26 am:

    ===they’re begging for extra scrutiny===

    lol

    I just saw her bill from the Sangamo Club. $803.35 was main dining room charge. Service charge was $132.20. Tax was $64.44. Total: $999.99.

    Sometimes, these things do happen.


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