Mayor Sandra Bury’s political committee, Sandra Bury for Mayor Of Oak Lawn, has once again failed to comply with campaign disclosure laws and could face penalties if the Illinois State Board of Elections proves one official wrong and takes action against the Mayor’s committee.
Bury recently filed a report with the Illinois State Board of Elections that contained various errors, oversights or perhaps intentional and willful acts intended to circumvent disclosure laws.
Bury has been before the Illinois State Board of Elections several times for failure to properly disclose contributions and expenditures. In one case, she was found in violation of the law for failing to report contributions to her campaign and another one is pending after the State Board of Elections dismissed the hearing officer’s recommendation to hold a hearing.
That dismissal action by the Illinois State Board of Elections raised the suspicions of political onlookers throughout the State with the State Board ignoring its own rules and the Illinois Statute. Oak Lawn Trustee Robert Streit called it “a rigged system” at the time noting that one of the State Board of Elections Members, William McGuffage, shares office space as an attorney with Bury’s attorney in the case. Streit said that McGuffage’s failure to recuse himself from the case is another example of how the system is rigged for insiders like the Mayor and her election attorney.
This time the failure to report certain expenditures and contributions may not only be limited to Bury but may also touch her political allies. Bury claims that Trustee Tim Desmond’s political committee, Friends of Tim Desmond, transferred $200 to her account. However, Desmond’s committee claims it didn’t transfer any funds to any other account in its own filings.
Village Clerk Jane Quinlan’s political account, Supporters of Jane Quinlan, reported a transfer of $200 to Sandra Bury for Mayor of Oak Lawn. Bury’s committee, however, does not show that transfer on her reports. Every committee that receives a contribution or transfer from another political committee of over $150 must disclose the contribution amount and the source. Bury did not do so.
Those failures to properly report may be minor compared to other violations apparent on her most recently filed document. She held a June fundraiser, in which she solicited as much as $5000 from individual sponsors. The fundraiser was held at BJ McMahon’s, a local bar owned by political insider Roger Benson. Although the event was held prior to the reporting date, Bury fails to list any amount she paid to rent the establishment or any other expenditures that night. If Benson provided the bar free of charge, Bury was required by law to report the in-kind contribution of the value of the use of the bar. She failed to do either in violation of the state’s disclosure laws designed to increase ethics among officials.
In addition, Bury appeared to ignore section 9-11(a)(10) of the Campaign Disclosure Law, which states that the committee must identify the name, address and employer of any individual donating $500 or more. Bury received donations from various vendors and local business men who donate $500 and she failed to provide the required information for any of those individuals. The fact that each is well known as vendors or political insiders makes the failure to report appear to be more than negligent.
One of the individuals donating $500 was Sebastian Jachymiak, who operates Technicraft Towing. That towing company was given a no bid contract by Bury who ousted the longtime towing company, Jack’s towing. Jachymiak’s employer is not listed.
Mark Volk, of Hancock Engineering is listed individually, even though he is well known as a contact with the village for the engineering company. No mention appears that he works for Hancock Engineering. Similarly, Bury fails to provide employers for William Marshall of Gurnee and Raymond Weinke of Libertyville.
The reasoning behind the requirement for providing employers of those giving $500 or more is to prevent vendors from hiding contributions in the names of “unknown” employees rather than the company with the contract.
Bury also failed to list the Oak Lawn Hilton as the employer for Charles Shirk or Les Brothers Restaurants for George Les, who each donated $500. Each are well known in the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce, an organization that Bury has been involved with even before becoming Mayor.
Streit may be correct about the system being rigged. The Illinois State Board of Elections has been accused of being a paper lion for failing to penalize some politicians such as Bury who have repeatedly violated the election disclosure requirements. In one instance, she drained her campaign account to avoid paying the statutory fine and the State Board of Elections took no action.
Streit said that it is doubtful that he will pursue filing a case against Bury. “When a board member like McGuffage has a clear conflict and doesn’t recuse himself, it is no wonder that so many people think the system is rigged”, said Streit.
Dennis Brennan, who the Illinois State Board of Elections once labeled an “election law expert” is an attorney. Brennan, who also represents the Oak Lawn Leaf, said that the reports filed by Bury show a “consistent and unending” disregard for the disclosure laws. “Any official can make one mistake but this committee routinely fails to properly disclose expenditures and revenues,” said Brennan.
Brennan said that the Bury’s continuous trips before the Illinois State Board of Elections is nothing more than a game. “The Board doesn’t want to take action and the Mayor treats it like the game show ‘Wheel of Fortune’, where she just throws out any answer in the hope she gets lucky”, said Brennan.
He said it was “inexcusable” that the Mayor would fail to list how much it cost to hold her party at BJ McMahon’s. “I doubt Roger (Benson) gave the place away for free,” he said, “but if it was free you have to list it as an in-kind donation for the value of the rental”.
The Illinois State Board of Elections has the power to file its own complaint.