Mendoza Draws Heat for Buying Used SUV With State Money

Illinois Comptroller Susana Menodoza is catching heat for using taxpayer money to purchase a $32,000 used SUV for her department’s fleet.

This weekend, the Illinois Republican Party levied a series of attacks against Mendoza after the Chicago Sun-Times broke the story Friday. Those attacks include an online ad that attempted to link her purchase to a scandal involving former Illinois Comptroller Alexi Giannoulias, who used money from a state college savings program to purchase an SUV.

The group claimed Mendoza is prioritizing her “own comfort” as “social service providers continue to wait months to get paid.

“Even worse, the Comptroller’s office already had nine state vehicles,” a statement from the Illinois Republican Party said. “Apparently the vehicle fleet that was good enough for Comptroller Munger is not good enough for Comptroller Mendoza."

“All this comes after Mendoza pledged ‘shared sacrifice’ with social service providers, who Mendoza promised to put at the front of the line to revise state checks,” the group added.

The comptroller’s office responded, noting that Mendoza has downsized her department’s fleet of cars from nine to eight since taking office. Mendoza’s office also said the new vehicle was purchased with money from the Comptroller’s Administrative Fund, not the General Revenue Fund, which is dedicated to education, social services and other state programs.

Mendoza’s office faulted Rauner for focusing on the vehicle purchase instead of the state’s lingering budget impasse and ballooning bill backlog. The comptroller's office noted that various state government offices have purchased over $11 million in vehicles over the past two years.

“Where is the state GOP’s outrage about the governor failing for the third year in a row to fulfill his constitutional duty to propose a balanced budged,” the comptroller’s office asked. “His responsibility for the state’s backlog of bills doubling to $12 billion on his watch? His responsibility for the six downgrades from the bond agencies for his failure to propose a balanced budget?”

“His responsibility for the $700 million in late payment interest penalties the state owes?” the comptroller’s office continued.

The release claimed Comptroller Mendoza will “persist” through these types of “false controversies.”

Nevertheless, the Illinois Republican Party’s attacks continued Tuesday, releasing another online ad featuring news stories highlighting Mendoza’s purchase.

“Makes you wonder what else is going on in the comptroller’s office and how she’s prioritizing other spending,” Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider said in the ad.

“Putting herself first and her comfort first ahead of the taxpayers,” he added.

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