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April 24, 2024

Bloomington’s Mayor Renner has city pay for girlfriend’s Japan trip –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On July 30, 2017


Bloomington Illinois’ Mayor Tari Renner took another vacation, I mean took another “business trip” to Bloomington’s Japan Sister City.

It is our understanding he is in Japan as we are typing this article.

Diane Benjamin at wrote about the bills and payroll last month, and we realized just today what was actually paid.

This time is different. This time he shafted the taxpayers of Bloomington even more, forcing them to pay for the cost of airfare for his girlfriend, at $1815.67 for the ticket – at least Renner’s Facebook page claims he is in a relationship with her, Ms. Margot Erhlich, who is employed at Illinois State University.

Since the taxpayers paid for her airfare, we can only wonder who is paying for her hotel, taxi, and for feeding her face while she is there. Happy times with OPM (Other People’s Money)?

Taxpayers have also presumably paid $20 of the $40 for the “Japan Sister City Agent Fee” – bringing the total, for only the travel portion, to $1835.67 of taxpayer’s hard-earned money, so the Mayor can bring his girlfriend on vacation, I mean on a business trip.

We find no evidence she works for the City of Bloomington, and since the city paid for it, her working in any capacity for any other public body would not be a public purpose for the city.

Maybe, although extremely unlikely, she is the only qualified person to do whatever she is doing in Japan at great cost to the Bloomington taxpayer, we do not know, and it is unlikely she is in any official capacity of the city.

  • Margot is not on the BN Sister City Committee: See (here) and (here)

Expenses like this, when there is no public purpose, are a violation of the Illinois Constitution and can be charged as felonies:

(a) Public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes.
(b) The State, units of local government and school districts shall incur obligations for payment or make payments from public funds only as authorized by law or ordinance.

We can’t wait to find out the total bill incurred by these two individuals on their vacation.

Another question is why did the city council vote to pay this debt which is apparently not a public purpose? Did they even ask why they were buying her ticket when they voted to approve payment? Did they even look at the Bills and Payroll they were approving?

We left messages for several city councilmen and also tried contacting the city manager for comment. No responses provided as of publication.


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  • Kia Solorzano
    Posted at 22:31h, 30 July

    Whoever edits these stories needs to look for a new job! There are always mistakes in them.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 22:34h, 30 July

      Thanks. We are looking for an editor who will do it for the same or less pay than we receive – which is absolutely nothing. Are you available?

    • Michelle Werner
      Posted at 10:07h, 31 July

      Of all the things to gripe about – grammar – really? This is coming from someone who has been employed as a technical writer. Shouldn’t the content be angering you more than the adherence to grammar? If you live in Bloomington, like I do, your blood should be boiling that the mayor is taking a ‘free trip’ to Japan on taxpayer money.

  • Jannie
    Posted at 07:07h, 31 July

    I’m not sure what “business” the Mayor would be doing in Japan, let alone his girlfriend. As far as the Council – it’s been my experience with council’s & boards, that often they sit back and believe whatever the Mayor, Chair or staff says without bothering to ask questions. They forget that “asking questions” is their job since they represent me the taxpayer.

  • Dave
    Posted at 08:28h, 31 July

    Pretty nice summer vacation on the taxpayer’s teat! Liberals think they are entitled to freebies

  • J. Madison
    Posted at 09:30h, 31 July

    Real working vacation! The mayor would be fired for improper use of funds if he were in the
    private sector.

  • Linda Schneider
    Posted at 10:53h, 31 July

    Sounds like Breitbart or Fox news with the blatant one-sidedness – seriously, there’s obviously more to this than will ever be revealed by this so called ‘watchdog’ group; will be sure not to waste my time checking back here for relevant info…

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 11:23h, 31 July

      Please explain which part(s) of the article are one-sided?
      – The ticket for Margot was charged to the City’s card
      – The council “approved” the payment
      – She is in Japan
      – She is not in Japan in any official capacity of the city
      – Charging the public card for other than public purposes is a crime

      Was there something we missed, or was it that all of the factual evidence (provided by the city) proves the article to be correct, and that is what you don’t like?
      Please explain.

      • finn dalcassian
        Posted at 11:51h, 22 August

        The entire allegation is without evidence for the specific crime accused of:
        1. Renner did not use a credit card to purchase Margot’s ticket.
        2. A City of Bloomington staff member used the City of Bloomington credit card for the purchase.
        3. That the Council approved the payment does not implicate or substantiate any Renner guilt.
        4. That Margot is in Japan is not a crime.
        5. There is no evidence to disprove Margot was not a legitimate delegate for Sister Cities.
        6. The funds charged to the credit card were for public purposes; Margot was attending a City of Bloomington/Sister Cities function; it was not a private, personal trip.
        7. There are not facts or evidence to support the accuasation, merely unsupported conclusions that have no tangible evidence to confirm or disprove them
        8. An investigation will yield the same information and a court would not entertain a complaint without tangible evidence to support the accusations.
        9. Legally, there is no crime.
        10. Unethical behavior is not a criminal offense.

        • jmkraft
          Posted at 12:39h, 22 August

          Here is my opinion on your bullet points:
          1. He directed it’s use – unless the magic Japanese trip fairy directed it.
          2. He directed her ticket be purchased, otherwise the “staff member” wouldn’t have known to purchase it. It does not matter WHO purchased it, it was still a violation of law if it was not an authorized purchase (and a local gov’t cannot authorize things in violation of state law).
          3. Council should be charged with refusing to do their duty of protecting public funds.
          4. No one said it was a crime that she was in Japan – it was the process used to get her there that is the problem.
          5 YES there is. What there isn’t, is evidence that she was a legitimate delegate.
          6. The funds charged were for a PRIVATE purpose. Just because she “attended” something doesn’t make it OK to spend public funds on it. I attend a lot of public functions, does that mean I can charge my expenses to the gov’t?
          7. Facts support the allegations made.
          8. We will see what the ISP has to say (if their report is released unredacted).
          9. Legally, is proven in court there are multiple felony crimes.
          10. Unethical behavior (thanks for admitting that) in combination with unauthorized use of public credit is a criminal offense.

  • Warren J. Le Fever
    Posted at 13:25h, 31 July

    I had to laugh when I saw this. IF THE FACTS ARE CORRECT (the odds are pretty good they are), then what a classic example this is to show all local government leaders at the next IML convention what NOT to do to cast negative light on local government leadership BECAUSE SOMEONE WILL FIND OUT and tell the world.

  • old abe
    Posted at 03:05h, 01 August

    “‘Now, gentlemen, I will tell you, what it is; I have thousands of applications like this every day, but we cannot satisfy all for this reason, that these positions are like office seekers–there are too many pigs for the teats.’

  • Bloom Ington
    Posted at 15:07h, 05 August

    The Illinois Muncipal League did share some insight and suggestions in 2008 after the Illinois Supreme Court Ruling you can read it at
    While that is not a legal opinion it was written by lawyers for the IML.
    It was the most informative piece of information in one document related to public funds.
    What is going to be key is if the General Assembly since 2008 has put in a
    de minimis exception. Meaning that all infractions if proven as factual are violations of the law.
    Reimbursement and dollar amount are not ways to say do not find me guilty of mis use of public funds. If anyone can show me if an investigation occurs how they can plead not guilty because they gave back the monies and it was under a dollar amount please post. We do not know if the purchasing card was that of T. Renner, another employee or that of the City Manager. Just hope that enough people ask for an investigation by the Illinois State Police by phone or by postal mail

    There is still over $20,000 in other tickets and other costs of public money that I have questions about. Also, seems in learning more about the abuse of public funds and the policy the person in charge of the purchasing card program has enough to revoke this PRIVILEGE. This is not a company it is PUBLIC FUNDS ABUSE.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 22:28h, 05 August

      This Mayor was charged involving less $100 worth of backhoe use.
      Court date is next month.
      The thing is, these are public funds and resources used illegally – just like the credit card.

    • finn dalcassian
      Posted at 12:01h, 22 August

      Those of you attempting to play “lawyer” should stick to your regular job.
      You obviously have misinterpretted the case you cite in your comment. In that case, the Mayor of Pekin was personally using the City’s credit card and it was ultimately used for personal endeavors and not city business.
      Unfortunately, this case is not on point with the current accussation of Renner’s personal misuse of City funds, and the current use of City funds do not fall within the parameters of what the Court outlined as prohibited.
      Please, see my later post itemizing the falsities of this claim of misuse of funds by Renner.
      Next time, get a real lawyer.

      • jmkraft
        Posted at 12:46h, 22 August

        Thanks for your comments “finn dalcassian” – here is my response:
        – In that case, as in this case, it is alleged that misuse of public credit, purchasing an airplane ticket for the Mayor’s girlfriend – which she did pay back AFTER several weeks had expired and a new paycheck acquired by her from ISU if they pay on the 1st of the month, and that this misuse of public credit had no public purpose.
        – “Borrowing” public credit for a private airplane ticket is NOT a public purpose, and similar to the Pekin Mayor’s case, it was for private, personal use and not for city business.
        – ANY use of public funds for a private purpose such as this are prohibited.
        – Please, see my other post disproving your itemizing of what you allege are falsities of this claim
        – Next time either you should get a real lawyer, or get a better lawyer, because the one you used, if you used one, is wrong.

        • finn dalcassian
          Posted at 13:14h, 22 August

          jmk – here again, you have missed the mark.
          First, Simply because it was Margot that the ticket was purchased for and that she went to Japan does not imply that it was for personal use. Margot was allegedly a delegate and the trip to Japan’s wasn’t Margot’s, it was the City of Bloomington Sister Cities – that makes it a public use for City purpopses.
          You have failed to offer any proof Margot was not a legitimate delegate other than conclusory allegations.
          Your allegation of “borrowing”, also holds no water. Simply because Margot’s repayment took place after the initial credit card purpose, and based upon a theory of a deposited check sometime after the fact, does not make it a loan.
          Nowhere is the term of loan used or implied except by those levelleing allegations.
          There is no mention or terms disclosed of a loan by anyone except you.
          It, again, is nothing more than conclusory allegations backed by no real, tangible evidence.
          You need to look for the crime elsewhere, sir.
          Btw, my lawer is fine.
          Thank you.

          • jmkraft
            Posted at 13:22h, 22 August

            If your lawyer thought up what you just typed, he needs to learn how to read. Everything you just said is wrong and I stand by what I said earlier. You can’t make her a delegate after the fact.

  • jimmiewashere
    Posted at 18:51h, 23 August

    Did you all forget that if you read the Illinois Supreme Court ruling ….float is used in the Pekin case. From the charge till repayment is a ….get this floating a loan. The person that did reimburse is get this now…. A STATE OF ILLINOIS EMPLOYEE. Now a loan a State Employee and Gift Ban of “loan” so now is that enough for ethics issues for that employee?

    I have the opinion of YES.