Illinois Comptroller and aspiring mayoral candidate Susana Mendoza reversed herself Thursday and now says she will donate more than $141,000 in donations she received from Alderman Danny Solis and his family after she told NBC 5 on Wednesday that she would only do so if he was accused of wrongdoing.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Solis wore a wire during an investigation, and NBC 5 revealed that Solis became the subject of a federal criminal investigation in 2014, but he has not been publicly charged with a crime.
Mendoza is donating more than $74,000 from Solis' 25th Ward organization, and she is also donating the $67,650 she received from a company co-founded by Patti Solis Doyle, the sister of Danny Solis and a long-time Democratic operative. Solis-Doyle founded a company with Brian Hynes, a long-time lobbyist with connections to House Speaker Michael Madigan.
In a statement on the matter, Mendoza says she is donating the Solis contributions to Montford Point Heroes, a veteran’s group founded to memorialize the first African-Americans to serve in the Marine Corps in World War II, when the military was still segregated.
The Chicago chapter of the group is at risk of losing their Englewood club house if they don’t pay $75,000 in back taxes and make critical repairs to the building, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Mendoza was set to attend to a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. hosted by Solis Doyle, which Mendoza said was canceled because of the death of Solis Doyle’s father-in-law. Initially, Mendoza said the fundraiser will continue at a later date, but Thursday her campaign said she “has decided not to move forward with this fundraiser” given the new information that has come to light about Ald. Solis.
As Mendoza faces this political headache, she looked to also draw in Cook County Board president and fellow mayoral hopeful Toni Preckwinkle to return the $116,000 she received from a fundraiser hosted by Ald. Ed Burke. Mendoza says Preckwinkle is "the boss of the party bosses." Preckwinkle's spokesman tells NBC 5 "we've returned all contributions, as will be reflected in our report to the Board of Elections in April."
Preckwinkle insisted at a press conference Wednesday that neither Solis nor Burke have ever been allies of hers, despite adding that she met with Alderman Burke about his son Edward Burke, Jr. Burke's son was then hired for a $100,000-a-year county job.
She says she was unaware Burke Jr. faced two internal investigations while he worked for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.