Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Update: State Board of Elections Postpones Decision on Stroger's A-1 Fines

The State Board of Elections met Monday to consider fines to be assessed against the Friends of Todd H. Stroger for President committee, as we mentioned last week. Staff at the Board found that the committee failed to disclose an astounding 78 donations totaling over $250K in donations received during the A-1 period in the 2006 General Election. Despite the large number of undisclosed donations, staff recommended a fine of just 10%, the lowest level allowed by statute.

The matter came before the Board on Monday and, long story short, the Board took no action, deferring to their next meeting. They were unable to find five votes in favor of a penalty. Member Patrick Brady recused himself for an undisclosed conflict. A motion to accept the hearing officer's recommendation and impose a $25K fine failed with four votes in favor (John Keith, Vice Chairman Bryan Schneider, Jesse Smart, and Robert Walters), three opposed (Bill McGuffage, Chairman Albert Porter, and Wanda Rednour), and Brady abstaining. A second motion to impose a fine only on the transfers and not the direct contributions (the resulting tally would have levied a fine of $14,200) also failed, with Keith, McGuffage, Porter, and Rednour voting yes, Schneider, Smart and Walters voting no, and Brady abstaining. The matter was continued to the November 19 meeting, which will be held in Springfield.

To put the Stroger committee's violations in perspective is difficult. The Board does not keep records of violations that facilitate historical comparisons. But in our research, we haven't found any committee that has failed to disclose more than a dozen donations in a single election. No one had failed to disclose more than $100K in a single election. The Stroger committee's failures to disclose dwarf all previous violations.

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