Fifth District candidates spar over campaign finance disclosure

By Bethany Krajelis | Oct 23, 2012



Allegations that St. Clair Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn's campaign committee failed to disclose certain contributions to his bid for the Fifth District Appellate Court are "absurd," McGlynn spokesman Charlie Johnston said Monday.

The accusation surfaced late last week, when the campaign committee of McGlynn's opponent, Swansea attorney Judy Cates, lodged a complaint for an alleged violation of the Campaign Finance Act with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Cates' committee claims her opponent failed to report contributions associated with his Oct. 2 use of a company's private jet, which took him to various campaign-related press conferences throughout the Fifth District.

The jet McGlynn flew on is owned by Luhr Brothers Inc., a Columbia contractor company that has donated about $84,880 to various political groups, unions and candidates -- the majority of whom were Republican -- since 1994, records show.

McGlynn, a Republican, acknowledged his use of the jet in an Oct. 2 post on his campaign website that noted Doug Whitley, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, joined him on the jet to announce the Chamber's endorsement of him at events in Belleville, Marion, Mount Vernon, Taylorville and Collinsville.

McGlynn's committee, however, did not disclose the contribution related to his fly-around until after Cates' committee filed its complaint with the Board of Elections.

On Friday, the day after Cates' committee lodged the complaint, the appellate court hopeful's committee reported a $2,760 contribution from Luhr Brothers and listed it as the cost of air fare.

Citing, the complaint filed by Cates' committee states that average cost per flying hour is about $4,000 and estimates "a trip covering more than 300 miles would cost well over $4,000."

Disclosure records show that Luhr Brothers let McGlynn use its jet twice in 2006 during his previous bid for the Fifth District against Democrat Bruce Stewart. It reported the jet rides as in-kind contributions, one for $2,506.85 and the other for $2,981.70.

Cates' committee claims that McGlynn failed to disclose the contribution related to his fly-around within the required five days.

"Unless McGlynn paid for the plane, his failure to disclose this contribution must be considered an intentional and knowing violation of the Illinois financial disclosure laws," Cates' committee asserts in its complaint. "In the event of such a failure, the Illinois Judicial Code would also have been violated."

Johnston, the spokesman for McGlynn's campaign, said in a written statement released Monday that "when anyone pays a bill for us, which is what an in kind contribution is, we report it the same day we are informed the bill has been paid."

"Mike Luhr, a Columbia businessman, pays for the use of the plane on a monthly basis," Johnston said. "Even though his bill is not due until the end of the month, we asked him, in light of this complaint, to invoice us now – and we have reported the contribution."

Besides the contribution associated with the jet ride, Cates' complaint accuses McGlynn's committee of failing to report a $10,000 donation from Illinois Minorities Political Action Committee (IMPAC).

The complaint asserts that in September and October, "IMPAC distributed communications to members of the medical community disclosing a $10,000 contribution" to McGlynn's campaign committee.

Records from the Board of Elections show that IMPAC has not turned in its quarterly report, which was due earlier this month, and has not reported any contributions since it formed last year.

In response, Johnston said that while "no Illinois Minorities PAC has given us money," the Illinois State Medical Society's PAC has. He said doctors commonly use the acronym IMPAC to describe the medical society's PAC.

"One would think that since the letter was from doctors to doctors, Ms. Cates would have checked on Medical Society's contributions," Johnston said. "They did give us $10,000, which was properly reported by both us and them. Ms. Cates does have a history of shooting first and aiming later, though."

According to the state Board of Elections' website, campaign disclosure complaints filed between Oct. 5 and Oct. 29 "will be brought to the Board for consideration at a special Board meeting" before the Nov. 6 election. It is unclear when that meeting will be.

In addition, both candidates' committees have reported receiving donations since the new disclosure reporting period began late last month.

Records show that McGlynn's committee has received $24,500 since Oct. 1. His biggest donation --$10,000 – came from Murray Energy Corp. in Ohio.

McGlynn's committee also received $1,000 from the coal mining company's CEO, Robert Murray, a GOP supporter who made headlines earlier this month for allegedly pressuring his employees to donate to Mitt Romney's campaign.

Records also show that McGlynn's committee received a $6,000 contribution from the Illinois Chamber's PAC, $5,000 from JUSTPAC and $2,500 from David and Karen Maschhoff, the owners of a Carlyle-based pork-production network.

Cates' campaign committee has reported receiving $6,000 in donations since Oct. 1, as well as a $32,000 contribution from Cates herself.

Records show the Chicago law firm of Pavalon & Gifford donated $2,500 to Cates' campaign, along with Belleville attorney Brad Badgley. In addition, Sandor Korein of Korein Tillery contributed $1,000 to Cates' campaign this month.

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