The Chicago Department of Procurement Services banned the former executive director and treasurer of the defunct Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce from doing business with the City of Chicago last month, an action taken following a December 2010 investigative series by the Center Square Journal and a subsequent rumored investigation of the chamber by the Chicago Inspector General.
Tom Kamykowski and James J. McHale, the chamber’s executive director and treasurer respectively, were debarred by the Chicago Department of Procurement services on September 11, 2012. When contacted by CSJ this morning, an Inspector General spokesperson said the city investigative agency was legally restricted from specifying whether or not Kamykowski and McHale’s debarrments were a result of an IG investigation. However, the IG’s quarterly report released this morning specifies a delegate agency that, “violated the City’s False Claims Act and caused the delegate agency to breach the Delegate Agency Agreements it executed with the City by submitting fraudulent reimbursement vouchers to the City and falsely representing to the City that the delegate agency fully paid its payroll taxes,” a profile that matches Center Square Journal’s December 2010 series.
Further investigation into the unnamed delegate agency by the Inspector General found that:
According to the IG’s report, “The IGO recommended that the executive director and treasurer both be permanently debarred…The IGO further recommended that the City seek cost recovery from the executive director pursuant to the False Claims Act.” The IG report also says the Chicago Department of Law is investigating ways to recover the lost funds.
Between 2008 and 2011, the Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce had received an average of $69,000 a year from the City to support area businesses. CSJ’s investigation found that Kamykowski was often an no-show at his office for years and projects required by the city contracts were never completed.
Since the dissolution of the Ravenswood Chamber, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce has since picked up responsibility for the area, along with a new name the “Lincoln Square-Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.”