U.S. Senator Mark Kirk used his status as a lawmaker to pass legislation that benefited a woman to whom he has been romantically linked, according to reports.
Kirk was a leading sponsor of a congressional legislation that benefited two clients of Dodie McCracken, an aide and possibly paramour of the now-Senator, the Chicago Tribune reports Friday. Kirk’s ex-wife, Kimberly Vertolli said in the past that McCracken had a Svengali-like influence on the North Shore politician.
Kirk supported bills that directed the Treasury Department to mint and sell collectible coins. The coins carried a surcharge for three non-profit groups that all hired McCracken’s PR firm Arcadian Partners. The legislation led to about $5.3 million in profits for two of those groups, according to a Chicago Tribune report. Kirk has thrown support behind another bill that could benefit a third client, the report said.
At least two of the three bills were introduced after Kirk and McCracken became romantically involved. Kirk co-sponsored one of those two bills while living with McCracken, the report said.
Congress only passes two commemorative coin bills a year which creates fierce competition and prompts many organizations to reach out to lobbyists and PR firms for help persuading lawmakers.
Early this week, Vertolli, Kirk’s ex-wife, accused Kirk of impropriety. She filed an FEC complaint that said Kirk paid McCracken through another company instead of directly, so that he could keep her name off federal disclosure forms.
Kirk’s campaign denied any wrongdoing and accused Vertolli of abusing the FEC process.