Business owner, Frank Mancari has responded to a story that was published by the Oak Lawn Leaf by writing a “letter to the editor” of the Oak Lawn Patch and then yesterday mailing a political mailer to every voting household in the village.
In the letter apparently signed by Mancari, he complains that the article implied that the village’s assistance in pushing through a real estate trade between U-Haul and Mancari was “some sort of pay to play deal with Oak Lawn’s Officials.” The dealership’s general manager read a statement at the village board meeting this past Tuesday, also denying that the unprecedented campaign donations are not a quid pro quo for favorable actions by the board that will greatly increase the dealerships footprint and income.
Mancari claimed the article appeared on Bob Streit’s blog, but a quick check of the Friendsofbobstreit.com website could not find the story. However, the Oak Lawn Leaf published an exclusive story on March 25th, noting that the village had facilitated the move of U-Haul to Cicero Avenue to accommodate the expansion of Mancari’s dealership that he has requested for many years.
Mancari did not deny that the village assisted him in the transaction, noting, “Due to the tireless efforts and hard work of the entire Village of Oak Lawn team we were able to achieve the impossible and expand our footprint on 95th Street. This action was critical in allowing us to keep our dealership in Oak Lawn”.
Mancari also did not deny, as reported by the Oak Lawn Leaf, that he donated $10,000 to fund the campaign of Mayor Bury and her Trustee candidates, Alex Olejniczak, Terry Vorderer, and Tom Phelan.
Neither the letter to the political blog, the Patch, nor the mailer sent out by Mancari mentioned the additional expenditure for mailing the letter to every household. That cost could be another $10,000 according to two political consultants who are experienced in Oak Lawn politics. The second $10,000 donation has not yet been reported.
The Illinois State Board of Elections shows that Mancari’s business made the initial donation as first reported by the Oak Lawn Leaf. The donation was made after the village used the efforts described by Mancari as “critical” to the transaction. Mancari had also made another $2,500 donation to support Bury’s team. Another $10,200 was donated by Mancari’s advertising guru according to state records, as reported yesterday.
Mancari has also been one of the few businesses to advertise in the politically controversial “Oak Lawn Matters” a village owned newspaper that allows Mayor Sandra Bury to write a column that is delivered to every home on a monthly basis. Mancari defended the payments of over $24,000 on an annual basis, noting that there was nothing “sinister” about the payments, which were all made after the assistance by the village.
Mancari also attempted to smear Streit by incorrectly claiming that he had donated $8,000 to Streit’s committee over the last several years and “tens of thousands of dollars” during his tenure. In fact, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections website, Mancari has given an average of $268 a year to Streit during his tenure. His contributions to Streit’s political committee began in 2005 and continued to 2016. Mancari also donated to many of Streit’s opponents over the years, including Scott Hollis, who Streit easily defeated.
Mancari has donated to various local, county and state politicians but has never given a donation as large as $10,000 in the past. Now, after receiving favorable zoning changes and special permits benefitting his dealership, he has donated, or caused to be donated at least $30,000 to various committees controlled by Bury and her allies based on an analysis of election disclosure reports and the estimated cost of printing and mailing a letter to voters in Oak Lawn.
Mancari claimed in his letter that the article was defamatory. He has not asked for a retraction from the Oak Lawn Leaf.
Mancari did claim in his mailed political letter that he was told “my contributions would be used in ONLY POSITIVE ways, and that everyone-Village Manager, Mayor, Clerk, and all 6 Trustees-would be included in that POSITIVE PROMOTION, I got my check-book and happily contributed.” Mancari did not acknowledge, or perhaps didn’t know that the PAC that received the money has only promoted Bury and her running mates while continuously attacking Robert Streit.
Mayor Sandra Bury explained in another published report that Streit and Clerk Jane Quinlan declined to participate in the Political Action Committee.
Mancari also claimed that the two men who are involved in the PAC claimed that they don’t coordinate or communicate with the mayor and Bury confirmed that statement. Both members of the PAC have been linked to the Bury campaign and the PAC has been exclusively promoting Bury and her running mates.
Mancari did not address the $1,000 contribution made the same day by D&P Construction, a company the Better Government Association has stated is controlled by alleged mobsters. Other publications have linked the company’s owners to Mancari and his brother.
Hana Callaghan, director of the Government Ethics Program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, spoke with the Oak Lawn Leaf about this donation and another $10,000 donation from Frank Mancari that was recently made to support Mayor Sandra Bury and her Trustee candidates, Alex Olejniczak, Terry Vorderer, and Tom Phelan.
Callaghan said that the disclosure of the contributions “alerts the voters to who or whom the politician may be beholden to”. Callaghan also said that politicians should avoid even the appearance of impropriety that comes with accepting such contributions.
In 2013, Sandra Bury and her Trustee running mates vowed to end politics as usual and were especially critical of campaign donations. The rhetoric continued at board meetings for the first three years of her term but the board never capped campaign contributions even though Bury has had five votes on the board.
The original stories can be found by clicking the links below.