As competition for the top leadership spot in Madison County government heats up, Board chairman hopeful Kurt Prenzler is calling for incumbent Alan Dunstan to return more than $25,000 in campaign contributions from a Metro East Sanitary District appointee whose car repair business is embroiled in controversy.
Prenzler put pressure on Dunstan to return the money to MESD president Andy Economy whose business may have improperly profited from repairing county-owned vehicles. Economy, who serves MESD through appointment by Dunstan, is under investigation by Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons for failing to document payments made to his own business by the board over which he presides.
Prenzler said the donations Economy made to Dunstan, over the course of 11 years, "pose serious ethical questions."
His statement came two days after Dunstan himself called for the removal of Economy from the board.
In response to Prenzler’s accusation, Dunstan maintained that he did “what is right” for the people of Madison County in calling for Economy to step down.
“The strong action[s] I have taken this week… prove that neither campaign contributions nor political affiliation will have any impact whatsoever on my decisions,” Dunstan stated in a press release.
However, according to Prenzler, Dunstan is only calling for Economy to step down because of the state's attorney's investigation. According to Prenzler, Dunstan’s acceptance of donations made by Economy are reminiscent of past corruption in Madison County.
“That’s the first thing we noticed about Fred Bathon," Prenzler said. "The former treasurer was accepting tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from tax buyers. I called it unethical and we all know how that ended up.
“It’s more of the ‘same ole, same ole’ going on in Madison County. There appears to be a quid pro quo — you make me large contributions, and I’ll keep appointing you and stay away.".
Dunstan called Prenzler’s accusations “playing politics,” and an attempt “to score political points by making this some type of election issue.”
Dunstan also accuses Prenzler of giving county employees $10,000 raises within weeks of these employees participating in political events in his campaign for re-election as County Treasurer.
The board is expected to vote on Economy’s removal on Nov. 18.