OTTAWA, IL. (ECWd) -
In yet another example of our law enforcement ignoring our laws, we once again are amazed at what people put in writing. Sadly, today's exposure is just the beginning of what we promise to be an eye-popping revelation as to how bad things can get when we fail to demand accountability to our laws by those enforcing them.
Does "ANYONE" not understand the reporting statute in bold below found in the Election Code?
(10 ILCS 5/9-7) (from Ch. 46, par. 9-7) Sec. 9-7. Records and accounts.
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), the treasurer of a political committee shall keep a detailed and exact account of-;
(b) the full name and mailing address of every person making a contribution and the date and amount thereof;
I spoke with John Levin with the State Board of Elections today in order to ensure I understood the statute correctly. I described the situation, which was a person holding a fund-raising event and collecting contributions from those attending in the form of checks made payable to himself, then he deposits those funds and writes a check from his account to the Campaign. In short, the reporting reflects one person making the donation, when in fact it was actually several people. As I understand the statute, that would be a violation of section 9-7 1(b).
Mr. Levin assured me that I am interpreting the statute correctly and such a reporting as described would be contrary to the reporting laws.
Brian Towne is the LaSalle County State's Attorney. Yes, the same State's Attorney that thought it was legal for him to start his own police department and do traffic/drug stops on Interstate 80 which ensures 77.5% of seized property ends up under his control. The Third Appellate Court put a screeching halt to that operation last fall. Much more to report on that scandal, so stay tuned as it would appear Mr. Towne may soon share similar company with our Auditor General Frank Mautino - as in Federal Investigators.
In short, the courts clearly sent a message to Towne by stating in part, "we hold that he does not have the authority to equip his investigators with squad cars and ticket books for the purpose of patrolling the highways". (Read the opinion here)
An ARDC complaint was filed against Towne regarding an alleged conflict of interest situation in an unrelated case that involved Johnathon Brandt, a local attorney and contributor to Towne's campaign fund. When you look at the D2 reports, nothing stands out as a problem with the reporting.
During a court preceding to have State's Attorney Town replaced with an Appellate Prosecutor, the main points raised were specifically related to a contributor to his campaign, who happen to be a party to the case, which was Johnathon Brandt. "And it's my understanding that the situation was some checks were made out directly to Brandt by other donors, and then Brandt cut further checks."
When I read that in the transcript on page 47 it was a red flag. Illinois law is clear on contributions and the names and addresses of each contributor must be recorded as outlined in the law for contributions over $150.00. The law does permit a person to collect or accept contributions for a campaign, however, it does not circumvent the reporting requirements outlined above in section 9.7 1(b),
Section 9-6(a) states,
A political committee shall disclose on the quarterly statement the name, address, and occupation of any person who collects or accepts contributions from at least 5 persons in the aggregate of $3,000 or more outside of the presence of a candidate or not in connection with a fundraising event sanctioned or coordinated by the political committee during a reporting period.
A response by Towne to an ARDC complaint filed against him may become the first of many problematic issues for this elected official. In his response letter he stated;
"Mr. Brandt, like many of the members of the LaSalle County Bar, has contributed to my campaigns. On two occasions he has had functions in his backyard for my campaign. Many people who come to the event, made checks payable to Mr. Brandt. He then deposited the checks and wrote one check to my campaign. Everything was handled legitimately through campaign finance reporting laws."
Everything was handled legitimately through campaign finance reporting laws???
According to the statute and the State Board of Elections, this action is not consistent with campaign finance reporting laws. Towne has admitted that he has a person who has collected campaign funds, deposited them into their own account, and then cut one check to his campaign. That appears to violate section 9-7 1(b). It should also be noted court transcripts reflect this as well (See page 47).
A review of the only D2 information for contributions from Mr. Brandt personally reflect two entries as Individual Contributions and now that we know those were not entirely his contributions we ask that Mr. Towne, the sitting State's Attorney, take appropriate action to disclose who the donors were to his campaign.
It should be noted that Mr. Brandt is a local attorney that also donates in his capacity as a partner in a law firm, Duncan & Brandt and according to court records, Brandt is a Board Member of the Peru Federal Savings Bank who is also a contributor to Towne. Are these contributions from several people masked under one name as well?
How is it that a sitting State's Attorney can claim everything was handled legitimately through campaign finance reporting laws when the D2 reports do not reflect the required information of those contributors?
Short of a State Board of Elections complaint against him there is little that can be done outside of public exposure.
Stay tuned as we untangle the web in LaSalle County to include more on Frank Mautino, Brian Towne, and Andy Skoog, of which all are facing what we believe will be a political nightmare.
Please consider a donation to the Edgar County Watchdogs.