DuPage Co. (ECWd) -
When COD refuses to provide records in violation of the law the people are left with one recourse that works. Sue them! On April 2, 2015, Rathje Woodward Attorneys at Law – Timothy Elliott, Charles Philbrick, and Jordan Franklin filed a twelve count Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on behalf of the Edgar County Watchdogs and American Transparency. Among many records, one in particular we knew was going to be a smoking gun were invoices from an advertising company.
Shortly after that suit was filed, COD amazingly produced some of the very records outlined in the law suit. Records that may well prove to be the smoking gun pertaining to using tax payer money to promote a bond referendum in direct violation of state law and possibly federal laws.
How would the citizens of the College of DuPage district feel if they knew Breuder was using their tax money to promote a bond referendum? Most would be outraged!
Sec. 9-25.1. Election interference.
(a) As used in this Section, "public funds" means any funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly or by any political subdivision of the State of Illinois.
(b) No public funds shall be used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposition, or be appropriated for political or campaign purposes to any candidate or political organization. This Section shall not prohibit the use of public funds for dissemination of factual information relative to any proposition appearing on an election ballot, or for dissemination of information and arguments published and distributed under law in connection with a proposition to amend the Constitution of the State of Illinois.
COD held a Special Board Meeting of August 9, 2010 whereby the COD Board voted to proceed with a $168 million bond referendum. In that same meeting COD President Breuder informed the board the Phase 3 plan was the engagement of the College community to get the message out to District residents. What message was he wanting to get out? He informed the board this phase may be done legally during business hours as part of the normal College work load along with all of the regular business of the College. (Click here for copy of the minutes)
The use of public funds during normal work hours, as Breuder described, is a direct violation of the law and considered Election Interference if those people are advocating for the referendum.
All the advertising invoices in regards to the “Referendum 2010” have a contact name of Joseph Moore (the same Joe Moore that was signing off on the indicted radio station engineer invoices). All other invoices to COD for other Michael Walters Advertising projects have other COD employees as contact names. (See invoices)
Joseph Moore is one of the two COD executives who founded the "Supporters of College of DuPage PAC" on May 28, 2010 with a primary purpose of passing the bond referendum. After showcase by the press, Moore nominally left the PAC, but his home address remained the official address of the PAC until dissolution in 2011. (Click here for PAC filing by Joe Moore)
President Breuder and Special Assistant to the President, Mary Ann Millush, and Joseph Moore signed-off on all the Michael Walters Advertising invoices. These now obtained invoices are part of our FOIA law suit against COD. What were they hiding?
On August 26, 2010, the COD Board approved a $149,650.00 professional services no bid contract with Michael Walters Advertising for “educational marketing.” (Click here to see minutes - see page 8 of 10)
Immediately after the November 2, 2010 election, the COD Board conferred another $165,000.00 professional services “scope change” contract. Indications are the advertising firm spent far more than the first contract authorized so AFTER the fact they approve a scope change to cover the additional expense created without prior approval! (Click here to see minutes -see page 6 of 9)
What do those invoices expose?
- Page 19 - $90,000.00 - A 200,000 piece mailing paid by the college and postage reflects a non profit organization. Notes reference the “targeting” of households not previously reached.
- Page 20 - $30,500.00 - 75 on-air radio mentions of the referendum.
- Page 21 -$75,000.00 - 50,000 and 100,000 direct mail pieces “targeted” and “reminder” election language, again with non profit organization postage.
- Page 22 - $27,750.00 - Particularly damning: “referendum 2010 campaign management fee for August, September, October and partial November”; “organize labor unions, police, firefighters, healthcare professions, students and their organizations. Prepare college leadership…”
- Page 24 - $10,900.00 – 100,000 newspaper inserts and 2000 extras "to be used internally"
- Page 25 -$20,500.00 - “50,000 door hangers to be distributed in areas most likely to vote for the referendum.”
- Page 30 - $21,950.00 - 50,000 direct mail pieces targeted on referendum 2010 again using non profit postage rates.
- Page 31 - $27,750.00 - 50% of the "campaign management fee” and the initiative to organize groups – see 2nd payment on invoice 22 above.
In a matter of a few months, COD spent over $304,000.00 of tax payer money disseminating a message ahead of the election that THEY THOUGHT WOULD HELP THE VOTE.
Is that not using taxpayer money to promote the outcome they want?
As if potential state law violations are not significant enough, let's look how Breuder and his team violated the COD Board policies.
To the new Board of Trustees: Terminate Breuder for Cause because of these actions listed below as he can not correct the violations!
Article 5 - COD Prohibited activity (see page 287)
(5) Surveying or gathering information from potential or actual voters in an election to determine probable vote outcome in connection with a campaign for elective office, or on behalf of a political organization for political purposes, or for or against any referendum question
- Minutes from the night of the Bond Referendum passage reflect COD spent tax payer money on two separate occasions to survey people regarding their support for the referendum. That action violates their own policy! (Click here for minutes - see page 9 of 11)
(8) Initiating for circulation, preparing, circulating, reviewing, or filing any petition on behalf of a candidate for elective office or for or against any referendum question.
- Simply read the invoices that outlined Referendum 2010 and the references to circulating the flyers. (See invoices)
(12) Campaigning for any elective office or for or against any referendum question
- The invoices reflect it was for the 2010 Referendum campaigning! That is campaigning! (See invoices)
(13) Managing or working on a campaign elective office or for or against any referendum question.
- Joseph Moore is one of the two COD executives who founded the "Supporters of College of DuPage PAC". Is that not managing or working on a campaign for the referendum question? (Click here for PAC filing by Joe Moore)
A violation of Article 5 of this Ordinance shall be prosecuted as a criminal offense by an attorney for College of DuPage by filing in the circuit court an information, or a sworn complaint, charging such offense. The prosecution shall be under and conform to the rules of criminal procedure. Conviction shall require the establishment of the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.
Follow the COD Policy and PROSECUTE these people! At a minimum, surly there is sufficient information here to terminate them for cause!
Special thanks to Adam Andrzejewski with American Transparency who provided critical documentation for this article!