More than a quarter-of-a million dollars has been given by gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker to ward and township committeemen to help get out the vote in Chicago and suburban Cook County.
The money shows up in state Board of Elections records. The biggest recipient of that Pritzker campaign cash has been 4th Ward Committeeman Toni Preckwinkle, who is running for re-election as President of the Cook County Board. Preckwinkle, who is opposed by Bob Fioretti, received $55,100 in her committeemen’s fund and $55,100 in her aldermanic account.
Other top beneficiaries are Karen Yarbrough who is running unopposed for Cook County Clerk. Her campaign received three contributions totaling $35,000.
Carrie Austin, alderman of the 34th Ward received $26,500. Her office is not up for re-election for another year.
All three women are big vote getters but they were not the only recipients.
“The way it works now in order for a committeeman to open, just to open up your doors on election day it cost you on average $10,000 just to open up your door,” said 27th Ward committeemen Walter Burnett.
To see for ourselves we looked at the expenses for the 2014 gubernatorial primary for Burnett’s 27th Ward Regular Democratic Organization.
State records show from January 1, 2014 thru March 31, 2014 the 27th Ward Committeeman’s fund spent $19,111 but produced itemized receipts for just over half of the money, $10,896.
In those three months Burnett’s organization spent:
$1,198 on rent;
$731 on phone charges;
$1,440 on transportation and payroll.
And $1,658 for printing.
By far the largest expense that year came---not on election day---but two months before anyone voted. State records show $4,566 was spent for a staff party at Mahoney’s Pub and Grill on January 14, 2014.
Of the $19,000 spent, $8,214 is unaccounted for, listed as non-itemized. Burnett did not return repeated phone calls.
And while state records show no itemized expenses on the day of the 2014 primary, a week later there is one “election day expense” listed: $738.83 to the Old Fudge Pot in Old Town.