Will Co. (ECWd) -
For those new to the series on Joliet Township, we encourage you to start reading from the beginning to grasp the magnitude of malfeasance taking place in the Joliet Township government (click here for all previous Joliet Township articles). CBS coverage, Carefully chosen words, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, and Part VII.
One of the regular Freedom of Information Act request we make is for credit card statements. Regular, because all too often we find illegal and improper spending on credit cards, especially around holidays such as Christmas.
Turns out the pattern we see elsewhere is found in Joliet Township.
Supervisor Danial Vera's name appears on the card that was used to purchase $350.00 in gift cards from Target right before Christmas last year. A total of seven $50.00 gift cards were purchased and given away.
According to an email we obtained (see page 6), Sarah Gimbel, Vera's Executive Assistant confirmed the gift cards were purchased last year and given to seven people for being top volunteers. She gathered the last names of the people as part of my request for information on who recieved them.
While we understand the desire to reward volunteers for their service, there is no provision to give taxpayer money away outside of established statutory authority. In this case, the purchase of gift cards with taxpayer money and used to pay workers becomes problematic because no taxes were paid on those wages.
We believe the purchase and distribution of gift cards without deducting the appropriate taxes violates the law, as confirmed by a local CPA. While they called the recipients volunteers, that status changed the minute they paid them. Compensation requires applicable IRS documentation such as W9's and W2's.
While they claim they were for the top volunteers, the timing of purchasing the gift cards right before Christmas points to this being nothing more than a Christmas present on the backs of the taxpayers.
Considering they know who received the gift cards we urge them to file the appropriate tax paperwork and rethink such purchases and distribution in the future.