Inspector General Questions Contributions to Maggie Daley Charity

More cracks are popping up in former Mayor Richard Daley's administration.

A report released Tuesday by Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson alleges the city, under Daley, required firms receiving tax increment financing (TIF) subsidies to donate money to certain non-profit groups.

Among those private groups, Ferguson said Maggie Daley's After School Matters and its KidStart Program received the second-most money -- $915,000 from at least 16 contributions. According to the report, many of the contributions were not publicly disclosed.

Ferguson said he was not commenting on whether After School Matters, the program Maggie Daley started and nurtured for two decades, or other non-profits deserved the money. But he said it creates the appearance of preferential treatment for an organization with close ties to the city.

"Regardless of the nature of the work performed by After School Matters, the lack of transparency in the city's public benefits program undermines the public's trust," Ferguson said in the report.

Still, After School Matters responded to the report, saying the accusation is "flat-out false."

It's an "insult to the work that former First Lady and After School Matters Chair Maggie Daley continues to do for the youth of this city," said spokeswoman Jennifer Hutchison.

Ferguson's report said $3.7 million was contributed to various non-profits via 27 grant agreements.

Ferguson suggested the city discontinue its inclusion of private non-profits as recipients of public benefits clauses.

"If the City continues to designate private entities as the recipient of public benefits clauses, the IGO recommends that the City take immediate steps to improve both transparency and accountability in the public benefits process."

The CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute -- a nonpartisan watchdog group with a mandate of bringing about "economic liberty and government accountability" -- said the report illustrates what's wrong with how TIF funds have been used.

"Unfortunately, we see a lot of this. This is just a new wrinkle in how the favor factor is run in Chicago.  Halloween is coming up. It’s Trick or Treat time again and the treats go to the favored few on the inside and the tricks are paid for by the taxpayers," said John Tillman.

A group of Chicago aldermen on Tuesday said they plan to introduce legislation that would require, by ordinance, more transparency with how TIF funds are used.

Last month Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced Maggie Daley at a fundraising gala to celebrate 20 years of After School Matters. The event was her first high-profile appearance in several weeks and she received a standing ovation and a rousing welcome as she took the stage.


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