County commissioners rebuke Stroger on tardy campaign filings
Thursday, February 19, 2009
by Hal Dardick
In a rebuke of Cook County Board President Todd
Stroger, commissioners are calling for harsher penalties to be imposed
on politicians who don’t meet state deadlines for disclosing their
campaigns’ donors and expenses.
The resolution, which called on the General Assembly to change
campaign finance laws, was approved 9-2 on Wednesday, with three usual
Stroger allies supporting the measure. Three other Stroger supporters
Commissioners Forrest Claypool and Mike Quigley, both Chicago
Democrats, proposed the measure in response to a Tribune story about
how Stroger’s campaign last month finally gave a detailed account of
what he raised and spent since he first sought his current post in
early 2006. The records showed he failed to report $733,000 in
political donations by the deadlines set in state law.
So far, Stroger has paid $27,000 in campaign fines,
and it’s possible he could pay more. Meanwhile, critics say that voters
were denied timely information and suggest the fines under the current
system might be an insufficient deterrent.
“The fact that there’s people who abuse the system who only get a
slap on the wrist, minor fines, tells me that the system is ripe for
reform,” Claypool said.
“The voters need to know before they go into the ballot booth who’s
giving money to the politicians who they are voting for,” he added. “If
they find that out after the fact, then it’s too late.”
But Commissioner Jerry “Iceman” Butler (D-Chicago), a Stroger ally
who joined Commissioner William Beavers (D-Chicago) in opposing the
measure, accused Claypool and Quigley, who is running for Congress, of
using the issue for political purposes.
“I think the intent is good,” Butler said. “I just think the way they are using it is ridiculous.”