Last weekend, mysterious political mailings claiming to be paid for by a group calling itself the “People Who Love Oak Lawn PAC”, with a mailing address linked to Mark Gill, were mailed to voters in Oak Lawn.
The mailings, which have come under intense criticism for claiming crime was reduced 25 percent since Mayor Sandra Bury was elected in 2013, were mailed to every district in the village. The literature made dubious false claims about crime and property values and featured Mayor Sandra Bury prominently in photos. With the exception of one Trustee, the literature included photos of the Trustee in that District. In District 1, 2, and 4, the mailing named the Trustee but in District 5, Trustee Bud Stalker appeared in a photo but he is referred to only as “the trustee”. Stalker did not run with Bury but has supported many of the same positions.
Oak Lawn’s previous Mayors have run as a party with Trustees but none have funded their own Political Action Committee until now. According to the most recent election disclosure reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections, the “People Who Love Oak Lawn PAC” are not independent but instead received over half its reported funding from Mayor Sandra Bury’s political fund.
It is unclear why Bury would use a political action committee when the mailing could have been done with her own political fund. It is possible that the mailing was done by the PAC because several statements were blatantly false according to Trustee Robert Streit.
The literature claimed that crime had decreased by 25 percent since Bury became Mayor in 2013. Likewise, a statement on the literature claimed that property values had risen 60 percent since 2013.
Political Action Committees have been roundly criticized at the federal and state level for “improperly influencing elections” and for “misleading voters”. In the City of Chicago’s most recent Mayoral election, a PAC supporting Mayor Emmanuel was criticized for raising one million dollars in its first week. Candidates have also been accused of using PACs to avoid the appearance of impropriety and charges of “pay to play”.
According to Bury’s most recent filing for the “Sandra Bury for Mayor of Oak Lawn” committee, she had a total of $15,600.27 in funds available before transferring the $2,700 to the PAC.