The Madison County Record Jun. 28, 2016, 6:46pm


WASHINGTON – Partners in the Swansea law office of Tom Keefe Jr. improperly reimbursed six employees who contributed to Congressional candidate C.J. Baricevic, campaign watchdogs allege at the Federal Election Commission. 

All six contributed the legal limit of $2,700 on March 2, according to a complaint that the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust filed on June 28. 

C.J. Baricevic
C.J. Baricevic

Foundation executive director Matthew Whitaker wrote that regulations prohibit making a contribution in the name of one who is not the true contributor. 

He seeks appropriate penalties on Keefe, Thomas Keefe III, and Samantha Unsell, as well as on Baricevic and campaign treasurer Ann Barnum. 

He wrote that Keefe, Keefe, and Unsell reimbursed the six through personal checks or bonuses drawn on the firm’s account. 

Whitaker identified the six employees as secretaries Debra Eastridge, Ashley Meuren, and Madonna Schutzenhofer, legal assistants Jill Harres and Lisa Wierciak, and receptionist Jan Harding. 

“Current employment openings for similar administrative positions in Illinois reflect an average annual salary of $31,000,” Whitaker wrote. 

“Thus, a maximum contribution from a donor similarly employed would constitute nearly nine percent of their annual salary.” 

He added broader criticism. 

“The Baricevic campaign has received more than $246,000 from the legal community, with nearly all of them having appeared in cases before Judge John C. Baricevic, C. J. Baricevic’s father,” Whitaker wrote. 

“Given the fact that C. John Baricevic, C. J. Baricevic’s father, has served on the bench as an Illinois judge for more than a decade, it is not surprising at all that the local legal community, including Keefe, Keefe, and Unsell, would take advantage of a young attorney in order to curry favor with his father who, as chief judge, not only hears a significant number of cases but also assigns cases to each of the judges he oversees.” 

Whitaker wrote that the foundation promotes accountability, ethics and transparency. 

“We achieve this mission by hanging a lantern over public officials who put their own interests over the interests of the public good,” he wrote. 

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