On March 19, 2014, the Illinois State Board of Elections issued an order finding that Bury violated the law that requires all candidates to publicly disclose contributions to their political fund exceeding $1000 within 48 hours of the receipt of the contribution.
The State Board of Elections in ruling against Bury entered a written order stating that Bury’s case requires “no further action…other than the referral to staff for imposition of an appropriate civil penalty for the delinquent A-1 filings”.
Less than 30 days later, on April 15, 2014, Bury filed six amended election reports reducing the “funds available” from $19,400 on the first day of 2013 to only $59.34 as of the most recent report.
Village Trustee Robert Streit (Dist. 3), who has battled Bury over her failure to comply with campaign promises regarding ethics and transparency said that the attempts to reduce the available cash on hand by Bury is a “strategy to mislead the State Board of Elections and the taxpayers”.
He noted that Village Trustee Tim Desmond (Dist. 1) was able to reduce his fine of $6,650 to only $572.94 by claiming that was the only money he had left in the fund. “Bury is trying to show that she doesn’t have money in the account with a series of accounting tricks that would make Enron’s former accountants proud”, said Streit.
Bury, by statute, could face a fine of $5,000 for failing to properly file the campaign contributions as required by law. This is not the first time that Bury has amended her election reports. She has filed nine amendments even though her committee has only been required to file six quarterly reports. This was not her first offense and the State Board of Elections should take that fact into consideration in assessing a penalty.
In addition to reducing the available cash on hand, Bury added additional “loans” to the report claiming that she loaned her committee $7,700 that was previously not reported to the State of Illinois. The alleged loans are dated for February of 2013 but were not reported until the reports were amended in 2014. The reporting of new loans over a year after the alleged loan occurred is “very suspect” according to an attorney who is familiar with campaign finance laws.
Bury contends on her most recent filing that she is owed $50,756.50 for her campaign. According to Illinois campaign finance law, Bury could use campaign funds in the future to pay herself the money allegedly owed. Bury makes $45,000 a year as Mayor and owns a lucrative optometry practice in Oak Lawn.
As a candidate for Mayor, Sandra Bury promised greater transparency for the village and the individual officials. However, the Attorney General has interceded several times to secure the release of public records and she and her running mates have had multiple instances of campaign finance disclosure violations.
The campaign featured multiple pieces of literature attacking Heilmann and his allies alleging that malfeasance and crimes were committed. Some of the charges were created by former Village Trustee Thomas Phelan, who served as the campaign manager. None of the charges were ever substantiated and no investigations created by Phelan resulted in findings of wrongdoing by any other official.
Now, Bury and her allies are reeling from revelations that it was their campaigns that were actually found in violation of state law. As of the date of publication, the State Board of Elections has not yet announced the fine to be issued against Bury.
The State Board of Elections has come under fire from the Oak Lawn Leaf and the Better Government Association during the last year. Bury has maintained a policy of not speaking with the Oak Lawn Leaf.