Funds available at the beginning of the reporting period
Funds available at the close of the reporting period
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Election board hearing July 19 will explore campaign violations by Mark Thompson and his ties to Tony Peraica
The dirtiest, the most disgusting and the most unethical campaign I have ever seen (and I have seen a lot) was the one that Mark Thompson directed against Liz Gorman in the February 2, 2010 Republican primary for the Cook County Board's 17th District seat. Gorman, the incumbent, has held the seat for two terms and easily won the Republican primary.
While her campaign material focused on her achievements:
- stubborn refusal to abandon the taxpayers in the fight against the 1 percent sales tax (She refused to give in when Todd Stroger continued to fight against repeal and she was instrumental in getting the repeal motion reintroduced repeatedly until half the Stroger sales tax was repealed) -- unlike Democratic Commissioner Larry Suffredin who was the deciding vote that made the Stroger Sales tax possible, even though he later reversed his position and joined int he repeal effort (Suffredin is supporting Gorman's political challenger, the Hynes' family dynasty's Patrick Maher.)
- warning repeatedly a year before the board finally woke up that Regional Schools Supt. Charles Flowers should not get funds from the county (a $190,000 loan) and that he was mismanaging the funds he already had. In fact, Flowers was charged with stealing some $376,000 in public funds more than a year later. (Read a story on it.)
Gorman's achievements as a County Commissioner representing Orland Township and the district all the way north.
But Thompson's campaign didn't focus on issues. (Here are a few links to recall some of Thompson's disgusting campaign efforts. Read this Jan. 4, 2010 ... or Read this Jan. 14, 2010. The Thompson campaign focused on cheap shots. And it seemed like he was getting money out of the air to do it.
Who was funding the Thompson hate campaign? That answer will be addressed at the July 19, 2010 hearing of the Illinois Election board. Thompson filed a complaint against the Gorman's during the election and the Election Board shot that complaint down. Gorman filed a complaint about Thompson and his failures to properly disclose where he was receiving money that was spent on the series of hate-literature that spewed from the underbelly of his sleazy campaign and the Election Board investigator responded with shock and awe.
And Peraica openly defended Thompson and insisted he had nothing to do with the Thompson campaign when I did speak with him about it. Read the story?
Based on the report, it seems clear that Peraica donated money to Thompson and those donations were not reported. That is one of Peraica's problems. He can't seem to focus on helping the people in his Cook County District and instead likes to waste his taxpayer funded time focusing on people he hates like Liz Gorman, one reason why Peraica should be ousted from the Cook County Board. (He is being challenged by Jeff Tobolski who in interviews has said he will focus on the needs of the district and not be some kind of political mercenary working to undermine the elected representative in other districts.)
But the mischief is clear and so are the violations, based on the Illinois Election Board's examination of the issues that will be decided on July 19, 2010.
Here is the report from the hearing examiner's investigation that will be presented to the full board on July 19, 2010. Remember, the full board has to act and the report only represents the conclusions of the person sent in to examine every piece of evidence and information and the facts.
Keep in mind that the last report before the election, here is what Thompson actually filed:
Plus a $20,000 loan
Here is the report
STATE OF ILLINOIS COUNTY OF COOK
BEFORE THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
Vs. CASE NO. 10 CD 003
Mark Thompson Campaign Committee
REPORT OF HEARING EXAMINER
On January 22. 2010 the above referenced Complainant filed a form D·4, Complaint for violation of the
Campaign Disclosure Act wherein it is specifically alleged that pursuant to 10 ILCS 5/9·10, 11, 12, and 13 as
well as 5/9·9.5 of the Act, the Respondent failed to report certain campaign expenditures and contributions. It is also alleged that certain campaign literature failed to identify Respondent as having paid for it.
On February 3. 2010, a Closed Preliminary Hearing was convened. The Complainant was represented by her attorney, Burton Odelson. The Respondent was represented by attorney Stephen Boulton. After due
consideration, the Hearing Examiner made a recommendation to the Board that the Complaint was filed on
justifiable grounds, and therefore further recommended that a Public Hearing be conducted.
On March 8. 2009. the Board agreed with the Hearing Examiner and found that the Complaint was filed on
justifiable grounds and therefore entered an Order that a Public Hearing be conducted.
Subsequent to the Board Order for a Public Hearing, and prior to the Public Hearing itself, on March I. 2010, attorney Richard Means filed a Motion on behalf of the Respondent. wherein the Respondent acknowledged certain 5/9-9.5 violations for some of the above mentioned literature. However Respondent also argued that the D-2 filed for the period ending December 31, 2009 had a balance of $11,036.50 and that at the Closed Hearing, the Complainant presented no evidence as to the cost of any of the election communication/literature in evidence, and that there was no evidence that suggested that none of the cost exceeded the amount of funds available to the Committee. Respondent also argues that there was no evidence that there were any contributions received by the Committee in excess of $500 thereby requiring the Committee to file a Form A· 1 accounting for such contributions. No substantive action on the motion was taken,
After receipt of Proof of Service upon the above mentioned parties, a Public Hearing was convened on April 28. 2010. Attorney Burton Odelson appeared on behalf of the Complainant and attorney Richard Means appeared on behalf of the Respondent. At the conclusion of this hearing and at the request of the Complainant, subpoenas were issued to US bank for the purpose of obtaining additional bank records relevant to the proceeding. The matter was continued until June 9, 2010 whereupon further evidence was submitted, and closing arguments were presented by both parties.
Upon convening the April 28, 2010 hearing, the Respondent acknowledged that there were 5/9-9.5 violations for a failure to identify the Respondent/Committee as the source of payment for certain election communications identified as items 1 A, B, and C respectively. In light of such acknowledgment. the Complainant rested as to this Issue.
SUBSTANTIVE MATTERS AT ISSUE
Deviating from conventional practice of allowing the Complainant and Respondent to present their cases
sequentially, and for the purpose of administrative convenience, this Hearing Examiner allowed the
Complainant to present certain items at issue. and then allowed the Respondent to the opportunity to respond as to the cost for each item.
Witness Tom Swiss
The Complainant called Mr. Tom Swiss as a hostile witness to testify as to the value of all items and deseribe the method of payment. Mr. Swiss worked as a volunteer for the Thompson campaign, but he also owned a political consulting company known as GOP Media. The Thompson campaign. retained to GOP Media to produce material and perform other activities related to the Thompson campaign.
It is very important to note, that a central theme to Mr. Swiss's testimony was that the Respondent's Committee (Thompson campaign) "reimbursed" GOP Media for the expenses GOP incurred related to the Thompson campaign. These reimbursements came in the form of checks (contributions) that were payable to the Respondent/Thompson's Committee, and then tendered to GOP media for Mr. Swiss to deposit into the GOP Media account.
During the months of December 2009 and January 2010, GOP Media incurred approximately $3200 in costs for Robocalls that were used in Mark Thompson's campaign for Cook County Board. Swiss charged these calls to his credit card. Swiss claimed that these expenses werc paid out of the $11,200 dollar balance that was on hand at the close of the December 2009 filing period. However he offered no evidence to support said claim.
Exhibit # 1. Campaign literature that both parties stipulated were not related to the County Board campaign.
Complainant withdrew this item.
Exhibit # 2. This was a certain letter that went to "Hard Republicans" in January 2010. All costs (production. and mailing) associated with this document totaled $375. Paid for by the GOP Media, but reimbursed by the Respondent/Thompson Committee in the manner described above.
Exhibit #3, Email designed by Swiss (value not identified) and emailed to approximately 700 people at a cost that was not elicited.
Exhibit # 4. Election communication that witness asserted was not related to his work for the County
Board campaign. Complainant withdrew this item.
Exhibit # 5. This is the literature that was associated with the envelope known as exhibit 2 discussed above. Again, the total cost for both exhibits 2 and 5 were $375.
Exhibit #6. A billboard truck. Swiss contends that the truck was from "volunteers" and therefore the cost was
"nothing". He later admilted it was "donated" by volunteers. He stated it was used during January of 2010 and
that the owner was someone named Jim Brookman. He claimed that the estimated expenses (400-500 dollars) for the art work was paid for previously and was listed on a previous report. He also testified that gas was paid for by Jim Bookman himself, but he did not know how much the gas cost. No A-1 was filed in relationship to this truck.
Exhibit # 7. More election communication with a production cost of $668 and postage of $1476. This
was sent in January 2010 to about 7000 homes. Again, Swiss contends it was paid for by GOP Media, and the Respondent'Committee reimbursed GOP.
Exhibit # 8. Another 7000 piece mailing in which GOP Media paid $1411 in postage, and $550.00 in production costs. There was approximately an additional $79 cost associated with a Mark Thompson web site.
Witness Mark Thompson
Complainant questioned witness Mark Thompson claimed he did not handle the finances, and he could not
explain why his contributions went directly to GOP Media and were not deposited directly into his Committee.
In fact when asked (at least twice) about who paid for certain election communications, he claimed he did not
know and that the campaign manager had the information. He furthermore admitted that his previous legal
representation at the close Preliminary Hearing was handled by Steve Bolton, a "friend." He furthermore
testified that he had "no knowledge of the details" regarding contributions that were originally made to his
campaign, but then went to GOP Media as opposed to being deposited to his campaign committee account.
June 9, 2010 Hearing
On June 9. 2010, this hearing resumed for the purpose of examining the evidence sent by US Bank, following a subpoena submitted to them commanding that they produce the fronts and backs of any check as well as deposit slips involving the GOP Media account from the period beginning January I, 2010 through February 2, 2010.
Mr. Tom Swiss testified that he was in control of the financial affairs of the Respondent Committee which
included accounting for both contributions and expenditures. He furthermore testified that there were certain
contributions that were reported as contributions in the Semi Annual Report for the period ending December
2009. but were in fact not received until after January 1, 2010. Again he reiterated that several of said
contributions were deposited into the GOP Media accounting(s) for the purpose of the Respondent/Mark
Of particular interest were two contributions. Regarding the first one, Swiss testified that one of the checks for
the Mark Thompson commit1ee was deposited into his personal account as opposed to the GOP Media account.
This check was a contribution from Stephen Bolton, which was reported on the Respondent's December 2009 Semi Annual Report as a contribution for $2000, even though $1000 of this contribution was not received until after January 1,2010. The second item was a check dated January 20, 2010 from Citizens for Peraica payable to GOP Media in the amount of $1,000. Mr. Swiss testified that this check was given to GOP Media for the benefit of the Respondent/Committee as part of a $2000 "Transfer In" that was previously reported as received by the Respondent/Committee on December 15,2009.
At the onset of this hearing. this Hearing Examiner was aware of the fact that at the close of the December 2009 reporting period the Respondem/Cornmittee had approximately $11,300 at its disposal to spend for costs (expenditures) incurred by the Thompson campaign for the office of Cook County Board of' Commissioners. I was also cognizant of the fact that while there are strict reporting requirements for contributions received prior to an election, expenditures need not be accounted for until the Semi Annual Report is filed for the period in which those expenditures are incurred.
Based on the testimony given by both Tom Swift, a sometimes volunteer for the Respondent, and sometimes
Independent Contractor for the Respondent in the name of GOP Media, the amount of money spent on the
various forms of election communications spent in Mr, Thompson1s campaign could have easily been paid for by the available funds as reported in tile Respondent/Committee's December 2009 Semi Annual Report. The costs never approached the $11,300 the Committee had available for such expenses. However, at hearing the
Respondent stated that Some of these cost were in fact paid for by some rather unconventional means.
Contributions given to the Respondent were never deposited and accounted for by the Respondent but in fact
routinely given to Me. Swiss of GOP Media to pay lor expenses that were related to the campaign. This included some of the expenses outlined above,
IRREGULAR AND NON REPORTING
The reporting methods utilized by the Respondent/Committee were cavalier and informal. I find this particularly problematic in light of the fact that Mr. Thompson has had Committee on file with the SBE for approximately 15 years, and he should have therefore been familiar with basic reporting practices. In both the April 28, 2010 and June 9, 2010 hearing, Mr. Swift made it clear that as the person primarily responsible for the financial affairs of the Committee (albeit not the Treasurer), it was a routine practice for the Committee to receive contributions from third parties, only for the Committee to tender said checks to GOP Media to reimburse (pay) GOP Media for said expenses related to Mr. Thompson's campaign. This practice apparently began before the filing of the December 2009 Semi Annual Report. This is problematic for several reasons. Sections 9-1.4 and 9-1.5 define what is both a contribution and expenditure respectively. The conduct as described above clearly falls outside of the statutory scheme for the reporting of contributions and expenditures. In fact, the type of conduct described above. makes it difficult to determine whether both contributions and expenditures were properly reported for the reporting period ending December 2009 as well as during the A 1 reporting period prior to the February 2010 Primary Election. Section 9-11 specifically sets forth the manner in which contributions in aggregate amounts or value exceeding $150 must be reported. The name, address, and dates of said contributions must be reported. Mr. Swift's practice of directing these contributions in excess of $150 to his GOP Media account, and in one case his own personal bank account makes it impossible to determine if the Respondent/Committee's December 2009 Semi Annual Report is an accurate depiction of the financial affairs of this committee.
It should be noted that while there is no evidence to suggest that the reports as filed are not accurate, the reporting practices engaged in by this committee were out of the ordinary and seemingly not consistent with the type of transparency that the above mentioned statutes seek to achieve. Also, Section 100.70 of the Board Rules, specifies that in instances where a particular expense incurred by a committee results in a particular payee being merely a conduit for the payment of a palticular item or service, this cost is still to be considered an "expense" within the meaning of the act, and not a reimbursement for that particular cost. When the Respondent/Committee passed on checks payable to the Thompson campaign to pay GOP Media, the Respondent appears to have done two things. First, there was a failure to properly account for the contributions received by the Committee, and second it appears that the Committee was "reimbursing" GOP Media for expenses incurred on behalf of the Committee, and not recognizing them as an actual expcnse incurred by the Committee.
Consistent with the above statutory requirements, the Respondent's reporting of contributions on the December 2009 Semi Annual Report that were not actually received until January of 20 I 0 wcre also violations. I know of no instance where a committee was allowed to report contributions as received merely based upon merely on a " promise" to submit a contribution at some future point in time. There is no statute or Board Rule that allows for said conduct. Therefore, in this instance the contributions by Mr. Peraica and Mr. Bolton that were reported on the December 2009 Semi Annual Report, but were in fact received either in whole or in part violated the above cited sections in that they were not actually received when the Respondent/Committee claimed to have received them.
Of particular note is the Respondent's reporting the receipt of a $2000 "Transfer In" (Exhibit # 1 ) Contribution on December 15, 2009 from Citizens for Peraica in which part of this contribution was received in the form of a $1000 check payable to GOP Media (not the Respondent/Committee) in January 2010. (Exhibit # 2). Oddly enough, a review of the Semi Annual Report for Citizens for Peraica for the period ending December 2009, does not even show a December 15th Transfer Out to the Respondent's Committee. This is a major discrepancy that requires further explanation on behalf of the Respondent. However, this very act amounts to violations of the Campaign Disclosure Act. Section 9-25 of the Act specifically states that no person shall make a contribution in the name of another and no committee can knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person. Clearly the $1000 check from Citizens for Peraica to GOP Media was made for the benefit of Mark Thompson and therefore violates this statute. At the same time, because this check was given and accepted by the Respondent/Committee Mark Thompson in January of 2010, a Form A-l should have been filed.
Additionally, the same can be said of Stephen Bolton's $1000 contribution in January. While it was reported as part of a $2000 contribution on the Respondent's December 2009 Semi Annual Report (Exhibit # J), Mr. Swiss testified that $1000 of this money was received in January of 2010 and as a result, a second Form A1 should have been filed for this contribution.
It should also be noted that even the cost of the Billboard truck could not be ascertained. Mr. Swiss claimed it was donated by a friend (Jim Bookman). Surely the rental cost of such an item that was used during the month of January (time unknown) conceivably had a vallie in excess of $500. Again, no attempt was made to account for the value for the time it was used, or the fuel consumed. This was clearly an In-Kind contribution of some sort.
Lastly, the Respondent stipulated to the fact that there was a 9-9.5 violation for a failure to provide the source of payment for certain election communications. This being the case, and now being aware of said violation and promising not to violate this section in the future, it is my opinion that no further action be taken in this regards.
In light oflhe above this Hearing Examiner recommends the following:
1. That the Board find that the Respondent failed to file two form A-1s in a timely manner because
Respondent failed to report two contributions in excess of $500 that were received by the
Respondent/Committee in January 2010. (Peraica and Bolton contributions)
2. That the Board tind that the Respondent violated section 9·25 of the Campaign Disclosure Act when the
Respondent accepted a contribution in the name of another. (Peraica contribution to GOP Media on behalf
of Thompson )
3. That based on the irregular practices of accounting for both contributions and expenditures as described
above, the Board order that appropriate Campaign Disclosure staff to audit the committee to insure that all
contributions and expenses have been properly accounted for.
4. That the Board order the Respondent to only report contributions in instances when money is actually
received and services have actually been rendered and not report contributions of any form where the
Respondent Committee in fact has not received them.
5. That the Board issue any other order that they deem appropriate to insure proper compliance with all of the
provisions of the Campaign Disclosure Act and that a failure to abide by said order(s) will result in a
possible fine for each violation.
Mark D. Greben