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UPDATE: Fritchey Questions Waguespack’s Financial Reporting as Committeeman Race Heats Up

By Patty Wetli | Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Incumbent Dem. Comm. John Fritchey (l to r) and Ald. Scott Waguespack are vying for 32nd Ward Democratic Committeeman March 20. Official photos.

Democrats ogling the Gingrich-Romney rivalry with the envy of political junkies looking for a fix now have a local contest to fill the void: the race for 32nd Ward Democratic Committeeman.

Yesterday John Fritchey, Cook County Commissioner and current committeeman, fired a salvo against his opponent, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), with a press release that called into question financial reporting violations made by Waguespack’s campaign. But when RVJ took a closer look we found that Waguespack’s actual violations were considerably less than charged and that Fritchey actually has one campaign finance violation of his own on record.

According to the news release: “Official records show that Waguespack’s campaign has been fined at least 15 times over the last 4 years for failing to comply with state election laws. The fines originally levied against the campaign total nearly $15,000.00.”

Accompanying documentation provided by the Fritchey campaign, as gathered from the Illinois Board of Elections (BoE), shows that 10 of the 15 fines date back to 2007; the most recent fine was assessed in June 2011. In addition, Fritchey’s team draws attention to the failure of  Waguespack’s campaign to file required quarterly disclosure reports for the last three reporting periods; records show Waguespack’s campaign last submitted a quarterly report March 31, 2011.

According to the Illinois BoE, the majority of fines levied against Waguespack’s campaign were of the “A-1″ variety, which requires campaigns to report contributions over $1,000 (the previous threshold was $500). These fines typically are reduced to 10 percent of the contribution in question.

Tom Newman, of the BoE’s campaign disclosure office, noted that Waguespack’s total fines amounted to “closer to $1,500″ and have all been paid. Contrary to Fritchey’s claims, Newman stated that no complaints have yet been filed by the BoE against Waguespack’s campaign for the overdue quarterly reports, though penalties are likely to be assessed in the coming weeks.

Fritchey spokesman Nick Wilbat acknowledged that the commissioner’s campaign was working with raw numbers when tallying the total of Waguespack’s fines, not the ultimate assessment. Asked about the source of irregularities in Waguespack’s quarterly filings, which the BoE has yet to make official, Wilbat stated that the Fritchey campaign came across the lapse in reports while searching Waguespack’s committee on the Board of Elections website.

“We were wondering what sort of expenditures and contributions,” he was recording, said Wilbat. The quarterly reports are important, he added, in that they show voters, “where donations are coming from.”

Newman stated that he has been in contact with the treasurer of Waguespack’s campaign, who explained to Newman that the filing delays were the result of difficulties with BoE electronic filing software. “Going three periods without filing, that is uncommon,” Newman said.

A BoE search of Fritchey’s campaign committees shows a single penalty against Friends of John Fritchey for an A-1 violation; first offenses are automatically stayed, according to Newman. Friends of John Fritchey is no longer active; the BoE shows no fines against Fritchey’s other active campaign committees, 32nd Ward Democratic Party and Chicago PAC.

Update: As of publication, Ald. Waguespack’s office had yet to respond to RVJ‘s request for more information.   Ald. Waguespack contacted RVJ Tuesday afternoon. Regarding the missing quarterly reports: According to the alderman, his office has been experiencing technical difficulties with the BoE’s electronic filing software. “We asked if we could file paper, but once you file electronically, you can’t go back.” Waguespack was unclear as to why the BoE software and his campaign’s data were so incompatible. “Their IT [the BoE's] guy had our computer for two days trying to do a work around.” The alderman emphasized that “we haven’t been fined” for the missing quarterly filings. “I’m concerned. We want to make sure we get the tech working,” he said and added, “I’ve got nothing to hide.”

Waguespack Campaign Violations Release

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  • Anonymous

    32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack is running for 32nd Ward Democratic Committeeman in the March 20, 2012 election primary.  http://scottforchicago.com   Joe Lake, Chicago

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E4UG6WYX6UTY4K27ETC4NIWUSI Coconuts

      Joe Lake for Alderman 32! He will keep everyone drunk!

      • Anonymous

        Mike-deal with this guy. Joe Lake, Chicago

  • Chgo Dark Knight

    Sounds like Fritchey is desperate… its all paperwork stuff. Big deal.

    I remember when Fritchey was tens of thousands behind on his property taxes.

    Its a busy life we all lead, bills, meetings, phone calls, kids etc.

    Making a “federal-case” out of this just makes John look bad.

  • Anonymous

    Alderman Waguespack is as clean as they come. No doubt he’s been involved in remapping and fighting for
    his constituents and not focusing on the Committeeman’s race. Which is exactly why he should be Committeeman.
    Go Waguespack. Shame on Fritchey. Commissioner Fritchey is part of the old guard and responsible for the
    debt mess in Springfield. Let new people and ideas have a chance.  

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E4UG6WYX6UTY4K27ETC4NIWUSI Coconuts

      Old gaurd? Waguespack has voted yes everytime for Mayor rahms machine! Raising Water bills…Parking Fees….Service cuts!

  • Anonymous

    I’ll personally respond to the (not surprisingly) anonymous comments to this article.  I stand by everything that was stated in the press release.  It was the Board of Elections that provided the information that the total fines levied against Ald. Waguespack’s campaign total almost $15,000.  The fact that the Alderman was able to have those fines greatly reduced is a separate issue.   Maybe if they hadn’t been reduced, he would realize that the election laws are not voluntary, they are fundamental legal requirements for campaign finance disclosure.

    It is also a FACT that 11 more complaints were filed against the Waguespack campaign committee yesterday, each one validly pointing out yet another violation of campaign laws.

    Chicagois – Not filing his last 3 campaign disclosure reports has zero to do with focusing on the Committeeman’s race. These reports date back to the second quarter of last year.  Additionally, while Waguespack hasn’t wanted to tell anybody where his money comes from or how he has spent it, he actually did take the time to file amended papers to run for Committeeman and for Alderman in 2015.

    And if he is unable to do the job of being Alderman and take care of the legal requirements that come along with having a campaign committee, the LAST thing he should be doing is trying to take on the responsibility of being Committeeman, having a second campaign account and trying to get other candidates elected.

    So quite to the opposite of what you said, he has fully focused on his political activities, it is his campaign disclosure responsibilities that he has ignored.  And if you want to compare Scott’s voting record to mine on budget issues, I’d be thrilled to have that debate.

    Chgo Dark Knight – Paperwork stuff? Seriously? Pointing out that Waguespack tries to be a champion of transparency while completely ignoring the laws that govern campaign transparency is hardly desperate.  What is desperate is you and other of Scott’s supporters repeatedly trying to bring issues related to my divorce into this campaign.

    ‘It’s a busy life we all lead’ – virtually every other campaign is able to file these reports on time.  If you are keeping good records, filing the reports takes 5-10 minutes, tops.  Again, he took the time to file papers to run for office.  Just not the time to say where his money comes from or how he spent it.

       

    Scott Waguespack’s supporters repeatedly try to shift attention away from issues like this by pointing in other directions or resorting to personal attacks.  The facts of this issue are clear, Scott Waguespack has repeatedly broken campaign disclosure laws, has been repeatedly fined for it, and has continued to ignore the laws.  No amount of spin can change that.
       

    • Chgo Dark Knight

      “you and other of Scott’s supporters repeatedly trying to bring issues related to my divorce into this campaign.”

      I actually mentioned your PROPERTY TAXES. Thank you for paying them.
      By the way, your sealed divorce records don’t look shady at all –  so…….
      Nonetheless, like Chicagois said “Alderman Waguespack is as clean as they come”.This kids’ election day prediction: 70% of the votes to Waguespack.

      • Anonymous

        Reliable sources in the 32nd Ward tell me that 32nd Ward Democratic Committeeman John Fritchey’s divorce records were sealed because, ‘Johhny-boy had been a very bad boy.” 

      • Anonymous

        As you are well aware, the taxes were paid in full and were related to the divorce proceedings, which are not and never were, sealed.

        But go ahead and ignore all of the other FACTS raised in the press release and my comments.  It’s your usual pattern.  Better yet, why not post under your real name.  It’s about transparency right?

        • Steve Jensen

          found this from Dark Knight:

        • Anonymous

          Steve,

          The irony of your photo is that while Ald. Waguespack has been a reliable vote in keeping business as usual humming along in the City, I’ve passed more reform legislation than any sitting legislator.  My efforts earned me IVI-IPO’s Best Legislative Voting Record Award on multiple occasions as well as a Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Committee for Honest Government and countless other awards.

          Baseless talk and personal attacks are easy, actions speak louder than words.

        • Anonymous

          I’m sorry. You spent how many years in Springfield? Your actions do speak-for decades.  Waguespack has done more to open dialogue and
          buck the system in 5 years than you have in 15. Get real.

        • Anonymous

          Why don’t you list some tangible accomplishments that he’s had and we can compare notes?

          I’ll even throw just a couple of mine out there just to get us started:

          I passed Open Government legislation making Cook County data public and putting us at the national forefront of this important transparency movement.

          I oversaw and published LookatCook.com providing the public with a never before seen opportunity to see County revenues and spending in detail for the last decade plus.

          I passed legislation banning pay-to-play politics in Illinois, a law the Chicago Tribune called the most important ethics reform in state history.

          That barely scratches the surface.  Your turn…

        • Anonymous

          Chicagois, how come you keep ignoring the subject of my press release?  The Alderman responded to the article, I posted my response to his comments.  But just as I predicted would be done in my post, you keep trying to change the subject.
            
          Why don’t you explain the facts raised rather than continually changing the subject? 
           
          It’s about openness and honesty, right?

  • Anonymous

    I have deleted one inappropriate comment here and will continue to do so. Two inappropriate comments will get you blacklisted.

    • Chgo Dark Knight

      was the inappropriate comment from Frank Coo-Coonate?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E4UG6WYX6UTY4K27ETC4NIWUSI Coconuts

        Roger Romanelli……..u crack me up! Craig Norris pay you to attack Fritchey? Opps…did Waguespack Report that?

  • Anonymous

    Just read the update. And unlike Scott’s supporters who post anonymously, I’ll personally post my thoughts. 

    Waguespack’s statement defies logic.

    Fact: He used the Board of Elections electronic filing system to file his first quarter 2011 report.

    Fact: He just used their system to file A-1 reports a month ago.

    - But he couldn’t file his 2011 second, third and fourth quarter reports using the SAME system?

    - And now he’s saying that he hasn’t been able to figure the problem out for NINE months?

    This is the same filing system that every campaign committee in the State of Illinois uses but he’s the only one that has technical problems that prevents him from filing? Nonsense.

    I will personally stand behind every issue I raised here and intend to raise during this campaign.  But I’m sure that the posters here will gloss over these straightforward facts and respond with more unrelated personal attacks against me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E4UG6WYX6UTY4K27ETC4NIWUSI Coconuts

    Thats Waguespack. Do what I say not what I do. Taken money without reporting it? Thats criminal. Whos Waguespacks bookkeeper- Rod Blagoyovich?

  • Anonymous

    LOL.  Since when does Mr. Fritchey “stand behind the issues raised.” He TRIED to create an issue by inferring
    Alderman Waguespack was being fined $15,000. Truth is, the clerical blunder amounted to around $1500.
    That’s it? That’s the subject of a press release Mr. Fritchey? With pensions bankrupting this State and the County refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement to identify criminal illegal aliens -you want to focus on
    petty paperwork? We all know its petty. Otherwise you’d say more. But, let me ask you-what is your pension adding up to these days?

    Don’t bother trying to intimidate me Mr. Fritchey…I’m not running. But, so far-nothing you bring up
    has anything to do with being Committeeman or reforming the Cook County Democratic Party.

    You say “Scott would be the first person on the phone..” How do you know? So far Waguespack has
    proven himself more interested in new ideas and efficient government than political sniping. Your tactics are a throw back.
    He broke the machine in 32. You didn’t. It was business as usual in 32 your entire career until he came around.

    • Anonymous

      Petty paperwork? You’re kidding me. Campaign finance disclosure is far and away the most important tool to provide public transparency as to where campaign cash comes from and how it is spent.  It is a FACT that the Board of Elections levied $15,000 in fines against Waguespack for repeated and ongoing failures to comply with the law.  That the Board lowered the fines, as is their normal practice, is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

      And if you don’t think that complying with fundamental transparency laws has anything to do with reform – then you and I have different ideas about what reform is.
         
      In your repeated and predictable attempts to change the subject from Waguespack’s legal violations, you raise the issue of my pension.  Unlike the Aldermen, the legislature froze its pay and even voted down statutory salary increases for the last several years.  And we didn’t come close to making the $110,000+ that the Aldermen make, even though we represented about twice as many people.  As such, Waguespack’s pension will far outpace mine in far less time.
        
      But again, why won’t you stick with the facts of the issue at hand??

      You then say Waguespack has been more interested in new ideas.  In a post below, I noted just a few of my accomplishments and am happy to continue.  Please give me a list of which of Waguespack’s ‘ideas’ have become reality. I asked you to do so below and you responded with…nothing. Actions speak louder than words. But your silence on the issue speaks volumes.

      He broke the machine? Why don’t you see who his largest contributor was (Me).  Maybe you’d like to go through the endless e-mails I’ve saved as I, Pat Botterman (RIP) and others orchestrated every aspect of Scott’s election.  I assure you that I am more than eager to have this conversation.  Even Scott acknowledges my role in getting him elected.
        
      Talk is cheap, so are your baseless attacks.
        
      At the risk of talking about the issue at hand. Here are the facts:
       
      Scott Waguespack is likely the ONLY member of City Council who has failed to file his last three quarterly reports.
       
      He now attempts to blame it on the state’s electronic system, the same system that he used to file other items before and during the same time period. The same system his campaign just used WEEKS ago.  The same system used by every other campaign in the state.
       
      He got caught and supporters like you try to change the subject by attacking the accuser.  That’s not reform, that’s political business as usual.

  • Anonymous

    All- 

    I have closed comments on this thread. The discussion has devolved to personal insults and is not constructive discourse. If you want to continue your shouting match, I suggest you find some place else.

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