THE WATCHDOGS: Fines mount for Harvey mayor’s campaign fund
By ANDREW SCHROEDTER December 30, 2013 12:00AM
Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: January 31, 2014 6:02AM
When Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg hosted a campaign fund-raiser at a golf course in September, attorney Lawrence Weiner says he wrote Kellogg a $250 check.
The check was promptly cashed by “Citizens to Elect Eric J. Kellogg,” according to Weiner, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice whose firm has done legal work for the city of Harvey.
But Kellogg’s campaign fund didn’t report the contribution to state election officials, as Illinois law requires.
The campaign fund also failed to report other contributions Kellogg got in connection with that event and also a second fund-raiser, held in the summer of 2010, campaign-finance records and interviews show.
Nor has the political fund reported how it spends campaign contributions, which the law also requires.
Similar lapses resulted in $5,000 in fines levied by the Illinois State Board of Elections against Kellogg’s campaign fund last year for not filing campaign-finance reports in 2010 and 2011.
But the fines haven’t been paid. And the board hasn’t done anything to enforce them.
“We’ve probably given him too much leeway, but we will take action,” says Jesse Smart, the chairman of the elections board, who now says he will refer the matter to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to weigh possible criminal prosecution.
The state elections board also could go to court and ask a judge to order Kellogg to pay the fine and file the reports.
Either measure is a rare step for the state agency. Sharon Steward, director of campaign disclosure for the board, says that’s due in part to a lack of staffing.
Kellogg declined an interview request.
His spokesman says the mayor has “never been involved in the reporting or accounting” of his campaign fund’s finances, even though Kellogg is listed by the campaign fund as its chairman. A Kellogg niece is listed as his campaign treasurer.
Kellogg’s campaign fund did not file the required paperwork on either of two fund-raisers Kellogg hosted at the Glenwoodie Golf Club in Glenwood, records show. One was held Sept. 6 — which Weiner made his contribution in connection with but did not attend. The other was in July 2010.
“There may have been a communication error in the reporting of these two events,” the Kellogg spokesman says.
The law requires campaign funds to submit quarterly reports to the state elections agency, listing everyone who has given $150 or more over the preceding three months and laying out how contributions are spent.
The Kellogg committee last filed a disclosure statement on Oct. 18, 2010, according to campaign-finance records that show it had $29,422 in the bank at the time. That statement didn’t list any contributions or payments from the July 2010 fund-raiser.
Though it hasn’t reported them, the fund has continued to collect campaign money since then, according to interviews with Weiner and other contributors.
One of them, Clifford Kosoff, a Northbrook attorney, says his firm gave Kellogg an unspecified amount in connection with the September 2013 fund-raiser, which asked for $155 for those attending the dinner and playing golf and also offered a “platinum” package, for $5,000, that included dinner for eight and golf for four, according to the invitation.
Weiner says he was unaware Kellogg’s committee wasn’t filing the required disclosure reports, or “I would not have made the contribution.”
Because it hasn’t filed the reports, it’s not clear how much money Kellogg’s campaign has been spending. Records obtained from the village of Glenwood, which operates Glenwoodie, show the campaign committee paid $3,124 for greens fees, golf carts and meals for the 2010 event, which drew 56 people for golf and 60 for the dinner of ribs, barbecued chicken and corn on the cob.
For the September fund-raiser, Kellogg’s campaign paid Glenwoodie $3,779 for greens fees and carts for 55 golfers, and a dinner buffet of “applewood-smoked chicken” and “Texas-style beef brisket,” records show.
If Kellogg doesn’t pay his fines by 2015, when he’s up for re-election, the state has another weapon it can use to make him pay up: It can keep his name off the ballot.
“The hammer we have is ballot forfeiture,” Steward says.
Andrew Schroedter works for the Better Government Association.