Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios has spent $186,000 on restaurant meals since 2007, mostly at Mart Anthony -- “perhaps washing down the $32 steak Vesuvio with a $75 Napa cabernet.” Berrios spent an average of $188 every time he ate out, which may explain why needed gastric bypass surgery.
House Speaker Michael Madigan has spent $912,782 on sports tickets, more than half on the Cubs, despite the fact that he represents a Southwest Side district. Madigan’s explanation: A spokesman says “he sees the tickets as a way to encourage people to be active in political campaigns” -- i.e., a way to reward contributors and precinct captains.
Speaking of rewarding precinct captains, Ald. Richard Mell took four of his on a three-day trip to the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The year before, they went to Aruba. Mell also bought a brick storefront for $210,000, converted it a political office, and has paid himself $231,000 in rent out of his campaign funds.
State Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights bought a $6,512 Segway so he could “meet all the voters I could.”
Secretary of State Jesse White has spent $77,000 on cars. He has a matching pair of GMC Yukons, one for Chicago, one for Springfield. White also has a state car and access to a state plane.
Although using campaign funds to buy a house was forbidden by a 1997 ethics law, state Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan bought a $32,000 Springfield mobile home with his own money, but uses campaign funds to pay the $280 a month lot lease.
The lesson: if you can’t get by on $67,836 a year, run for office in Illinois -- and make sure to vote against any law that would curtail your lifestyle.