A local public official says it’s okay that his business is making money through insurance claims turned in by local government officials, because it’s insurance money, not out of taxpayers' pockets.
Andy Economy, Metro East Sanitary District’s president of the Board of Commissioners, spoke with the Record about the many times his car repair shop, Andy’s Auto Body & Towing in Madison, fixed the district-owned SUV driven by the district's executive director Bob Shipley.
“If the levee paid it out of their pocket it would be a different story, but the levee board’s insurance company is paying for it,” Economy said.
Shipley’s multiple wrecks have brought $18,400 into Economy’s business though, with Andy’s Auto Body & Towing doing $33,150 in total work on district cars in three years, according to a report in the Belleville News Democrat.
The newspaper reported that Shipley has had to have his district-owned car repaired five times in just three years.
Economy described the process by which a driver is reimbursed by insurance after an accident three times.
When asked whether it may appear to the public as a conflict of interest, Economy said, “It’s between you and the insurance company, really."
Economy downplayed his and Shipley's status as public figures, saying they are appointed, not elected officials. Their positions are by appointment of the Madison County board chairman, Alan Dunstan.
According to campaign finance records at the Illinois State Board of Elections, this year Economy has contributed $2,500 to Dunstan. Shipley and Metro East Sanitary District’s attorney George Filcoff have given Dunstan $200 this year.
“I’ve been here 45 years and we do a good job,” Economy said about his car repair business. “There’s no problem.”
When asked about the frequency in which the vehicle needs repairs, Economy said: “He drives Saturdays, He drives Sundays.” Economy went on to say, “He spends more than 40 hours a week driving.”