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Did Macoupin County Board and Dave Ambrose collude to influence tax referendum at election?

May 11, 2017   ·   30 Comments

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MACOUPIN CO., IL. (ECWd) –

Update: We want to make it clear this allegation is from the 2014 election cycle and previous tax referendum, not the most recent one.

When people start talking, let them talk. Then you know what to look for.

Shortly after we started writing articles about the City of Carlinville and its regular and routine failure to provide public records requested under the Freedom of Information Act, a local Macoupin County former newspaper owner decided to try and attack what we were writing about, claimed it was some sort of collusion to influence the election of April 2017, and attack our writing in general without even so much as one question of why the city refused to produce public records.

We wondered why he was so vocal since nothing in the articles had anything to do with the upcoming election, and why he would insist we were doing something wrong – it was almost as if he had experience doing what he was wrongly accusing us of doing. He ended up writing a letter to the Illinois Attorney General with child-like complaints and outright lies about our use of the FOIA. He also allegedly sent the same letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections. He is free to do both, we have heard absolutely nothing from either of those agencies and presume they were summarily discarded as frivolous.

After hearing of his “settlement agreement” in reference to a revolving loan obtained from Macoupin County, I decided to FOIA all the records related to that loan and any other loan he obtained from them. What a surprise contained in the county’s response!

The State’s Attorney had written a demand for payment letter to Ambrose, and Ambrose responded with a letter of an offer to settle the $6000 debt for $3000. Contained within the letter was a short comment about work he did without pay for the county board because the board could not have legally paid him without violating the election code, and using that “free” work to support a reduction of the debt by $1000. Below is that actual text from the letter (emphasis ours):

I would also like to point out that we produced without payment or compensation of any kind a series of ads for print media as well as a brochure when the county board unsuccessfully sought passage of a county sales tax increase. I was recruited for that work and was told at the time that the board could not legally pay me for the work because it would involve supporting a political position in the upcoming election. I suppose I was naïve in accepting those terms without questioning where the money was coming from to pay for the advertising space used for the ads. Since I was never paid for their work, I don’t think it would be unfair to reduce the amount of the debt by $1,000.”

So he admits to doing work for the county board even though they acknowledge it would be illegal for them to pay him anything because it would violate the law…we suggest that it violated the law to get involved even without payment. Then, when he gets in a financial bind, he tries to obtain that payment thru the forgiveness of a certain portion of the debt owed.

The County Board accepted his offer of settlement of the ~$6,000 debt for a $3,000 payment – thus, screwing the taxpayers out of $3,000. By doing that, we suggest the county was in fact paying him, by way of debt forgiveness, for the work in favor of a referendum that Ambrose said the county board acknowledges would be a violation of law and would be considered the board “supporting a political position” using public funds.

The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act prohibits this type of activity as does the Illinois Election Code. Both prohibit using public funds for electioneering purposes, and this clearly was electioneering purposes using public funds (albeit thru debt forgiveness).

Facts about the loan:

  • This was not his first loan from the county and was not his first loan with late payments to the county.
  • This loan was taken out in April of 2012, with Dave signing his name stating, among other things, that Connexus was an Illinois Corporation – it had actually been involuntarily dissolved by the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office more than 3 years and 4 months prior to signing the note.
  • According to the meeting minutes, the loan was settled for $3k at the September 2015 County Board Meeting (see page 5).
  • According to the meeting agenda, it was not on the agenda and could never have legally been called for a vote – which calls into question whether it could have been legally settled by the board since it was not on the agenda.

The referendum in question was the failed referendum for sales tax which was on the ballot in 2014.

Dave Ambrose was asked for his comments and has not yet responded to our message. Update: Dave responded at 8:34 p.m. on Sat night, May 13th. His response indicated we should contact the county board and ask if they used his free work as part the justification for settlement of the debt. 

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Readers Comments (30)

  1. J.E. says:

    Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) grants have specific monitoring requirements placed upon the local government program administrators by the Community Development Assistance Program (CDAP). It would be interesting to know what the Macoupin County RLF administrator reports look like. The Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) brought a new grant tracking system online around 2009 in order to digitally track all of the DCEO grants. CDAP falls underneath DCEO so I would imagine they have good data if the reports were filed.

     Reply
  2. J.E. says:

    In this world there are government watchdogs, government lapdogs, and peasants. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see who fits into each of those categories. How many everyday peasants are fortunate enough to have the government forgive a $3000 bill from a Community Development Assistance Program (CDAP) Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)? It’s got me wondering what fund Macoupin County robbed in order to pay the bill back to CDAP. I’m incensed about this because nobody has ever given me a free pass like that. Please tell me where a peasant like me can get my free $3,000. It’s sad that it takes a watchdog group to come into Carlinville because the local media lapdogs won’t do their jobs. Why do you think this stuff gets very little air time on social media or anywhere else for that matter? I’ll tell you why: peasants are afraid to speak up in fear of retaliation. They are afraid the “leadership” will enact a warrant-less stingray wiretap to follow their every move, find a way to trump up some charges, and then have their lapdogs publicly shame the individual in their “newspapers”. We should all be thankful that someone is trying to keep these folks in check. Keep up the great work, Edgar County Watchdogs!

     Reply
  3. Jan Timmons says:

    jmkraft: I have seen the back and forth between you and Dave Ambrose many times. I think all of this is you defending yourself against what? It seems that theft of intellectual property is your business to talk about. You may get yourself in trouble, can’t you just stop? I do enjoy the back and forth, because you think you are getting spanked when you try. Don’t you have anything better to do than insult someone you don’t agree with? Maybe there should be watchdogs for the watchdogs.

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      Finally, after several days of Dave screeching and crying on his facebook page about it, someone actually helps him out and posts a comment on his request.
      It sounds like you have been talking to Dave and appears he has been lying to you.
      There is no theft of intellectual property, there never was any, and Dave is probably lying about it if that is what he is telling you.
      Is this the same Jan Timmons who likes to run her foul mouth on facebook and now expects to get space here?

       Reply
  4. dave ambrose says:

    There are several unfounded statements in this piece that are libelous per se. As when you stole intellectual property from me, I would advise you to the remove the post. Unlike the previously incident, when you did indeed remove the post when I pointed out you had violated the law, I took the liberty of saving a screen shot of this for my attorney–who, by the way, actually has a degree and a license to practice.

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      Please attend a truth-telling class, you need it. Please quit lying. Nobody stole anything from you.
      This article will remain, I reviewed it again for accuracy and it will remain, unchanged.
      Please, give it to your attorney, maybe a cease and desist might work? I would hope, as you claim, that your attorney has a degree and a license to practice law, otherwise he would be practicing without a license, which would be a violation of law.
      If you still believe there are any “unfounded statements” within the article, please be specific about what they are and it will be reviewed again.

       Reply
      • Dave ambrose says:

        Instead of wasting my breath and time, how about we just leave the specifics to the suit? And, yes, you indeed did steal intellectual property, cowardly remove the post when I threatened to take action, then claimed to have “stolen nothing.”

         Reply
        • jmkraft says:

          No. I stole nothing and you have no idea of what you are talking about. Pull up your big boy pants and jump if you feel froggy, otherwise quit wasting my time with all of these lame threats.

           Reply
          • Dave ambrose says:

            MODERATOR NOTE: – Dave, you are not going to turn this page into a facebook warzone – go cry about it somewhere else. Your comment was deleted by moderator.

             
  5. Dave ambrose says:

    Funny you should allege that I lied when your story states I failed to respond to your request for a comment. You know damn good and well that I responded. You chose to ignore the response

     Reply
    • jmkraft says:

      You responded Saturday evening, May 13, at 8:34 p.m. – the article was published 2 days prior to your response. Our article was accurate at time of posting, and is still accurate. All your response did was point us back to the county board for an answer.

       Reply
      • dave ambrose says:

        I check my email and Facebook religiously. Your request for a response did not arrive until yesterday and I responded immediately. You request for information also suggested that your were preparing a piece about an allegation that the county board illegally participated in electioneering–not that you were simply planning a vindictive hatchet job against me for daring to disagree with you. My response also indicated that it was more likely that the board accepted my offer to settle because they were in breach of contract and wished to avoid a court action that could result in a dismissal of their claim. It would be nice if you would learn to be factual in your reporting.

         Reply
        • jmkraft says:

          So, which court determined they were in breach of contract? Just because you said it makes it true? This was not a vindictive hatchet job, it merely provides the background information for the allegation that you and the county board colluded to pass a tax referendum. Please provide specific examples of non-factual reporting in this article.

           Reply
          • Dave ambrose says:

            Ditto. Just because you apparently can now read minds and determine what the Board was thinking when they accepted a reasonable offer to settle does not, in your words, “make it true.”

             
          • jmkraft says:

            Funny you describe it as a reasonable offer.

             
        • jmkraft says:

          Yes, I’m sure facebook always waits 2 days to send a message…

           Reply
  6. G. Barraclough says:

    “From the last Presidential election, we have seen the danger to democracy posed by candidates allegedly colluding with outside
    entities to influence an election.”
    Email 3-24-17 from Dave Ambrose to the Illinois Attorney General

    Mr. Ambrose:
    Could you flesh this out a bit more and tell us specifically what the danger to democracy a candidate poses when he or she “allegedly colludes” with outside entities. Would you also kindly tell us what the danger to democracy is when it has been proven a candidate colluded with an outside entity. Would you also, please define colluded and outside entity(,) as you used these terms in your email.

     Reply
  7. G. Barraclough says:

    “…these documents are easily accessible online…”
    Email, 3/24/17 from Dave Ambrose to Illinois Attorney General

    Mr. Dave Ambrose:
    Please publish a screen shot showing what you mean or in 200 words or less describe how a citizen can easily access the documents and writings you are referring to, or otherwise define easily accessible.

     Reply
    • Dave ambrose says:

      Do I have the pleasure of addressing Mr. Kraft or Mr. Allen (since both have been known to use aliases online when contacting me or others–it makes simple jerkwater harrassment seem more James Bond-y, you). Don’t need a screen shot, don’t need 200 words. The minutes you specifically requested are posted online by the city. That’s why, if I understand the court documents correctly, that particular aspect of your FOIA was denied. Now, a question for you: From which school did you receive your Juris Doctor degree entitling you to practice law?

       Reply
      • Kirk Allen says:

        Dave,
        You sir have lied. I, Kirk Allen, have NEVER used an alias online when contacting you or anyone else. Since it appears you are replying to another persons comment I suggest you focus on addressing him instead of fabrciting information and spreading lies.

         Reply
      • jmkraft says:

        I see you cannot help but continue lying. No aliases are used to contact anyone. What you think are us using aliases is nothing more than your imagination. You might consider reading before commenting. A pro se lawsuit needs no jurist doctorate to file and prosecute. Any speculation of “practicing law” on the website is simply false – no matter what the electoral board attorney would like to say it was, he is wrong in his opinion.

         Reply
        • Dave Ambrose says:

          Really? You’re going to lecture me about reading your garbage and then proceed to offer me legal advice while denying that you give legal advice on your website? Really? If you read closely (and I will say this slowly so you can follow): I did NOT say “pro se.” I said “per se.” It means “libelous on the face of it,” and it is much easier to collect damages under that test, especially for a private citizen who has never held public office

           Reply
          • jmkraft says:

            Nobody gave you legal advice. Nobody gave any legal advice on this website. If you think we did, then please file a complaint with whomever takes those types of complaints so they can laugh at you too. Read this really slow: I…was…t a l k i n g … a b o u t … t h e … l a w s u i t …I … f i l e d … when I mentioned “pro se” and not talking about your fabricated “per se” – and – once again, if you feel froggy, jump on it, otherwise quit wasting my time with these frivolous threats.

             
          • Dave ambrose says:

            Ummm…to be clear (which is difficult when you start to ramble), I never said, suggested or hinted that you gave legal advice in your website. But you do, however, in your seminars and one-on-one counseling with individuals, advising them on such things as filing petition objections and filing FOIAs. That’s legal advice. And it requires a license whether you are paid or not

             
          • jmkraft says:

            There you go with your unwarranted accusations again. As I stated earlier, if that is what you believe happens, please file a complaint with the appropriate authorities so they can get a good laugh at your nonsense. That might be the title of another article: “Dave says we need a license to practice our First Amendment rights” – lol

             
        • Dave Ambose says:

          I keep looking for your obit but I never know which name you’re using this week

           Reply
          • jmkraft says:

            I see the failed “reporter” is still making childish remarks. You might rethink your priorities – it is not everyone else’s fault you are a failure.

             
          • Dave ambrose says:

            MODERATOR EDIT AND MODERATOR NOTE: Dave, you have proven yourself to be a liar and will not be allowed to post your filth in this site. If you have something constructive to say, by all means, say it and it will be approved. Additionally, your plea for help from your facebook “friends” has generated 3 comments total on here and our facebook account – all 3 are from you. You have proven yourself to be irrelevant.

             
          • Kirk Allen says:

            Thanks for blocking me Dave. The truth must have really hurt.

             
          • Dave ambrose says:

            Man, I only blocked you after you blocked me. MODERATOR REMOVED REMAINDER OF POST.

             




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