MWRD: Incumbent Commissioner Doubles Down on Donation Falsehood

MWRD COMMISSIONER DOUBLES DOWN ON DONATION FALSEHOOD

Incumbent Democrat claims to follow Cook County campaign contribution limits; has violated them nearly 50 times.

In a candidate questionnaire made public Sunday, responding to a question about campaign contributions from entities that receive Metropolitan Water Reclamation District contracts, incumbent MWRD Commissioner Debra Shore told the Chicago Sun-Times "I have sought to impose as my own standard the same limits on contributions from companies doing business with the MWRD that members of the Cook County Board follow."

It's the same claim Shore, a Democrat, made in a March 2018 Daily Herald article on the appearance of pay-to-play politics at the wastewater management agency. There's one problem: the claim wasn't true in March, and it's become even less true since.

Shore's campaign committee has taken donations in excess of the limits she claims nearly 50 times, including multiple donations since the 2018 primaries.

Donations to candidates for Cook County Board from "entities doing business or seeking to do business" with the government are limited to $750 in the primary cycle and another $750 in the general election cycle. 

Since the 2018 primaries, the Friends of Debra Shore campaign committee has taken $1000 from Christopher Burke Engineering and $2500 from Greeley & Hansen, both recipients of multiple MWRD contracts. 

In prior cycles, the campaign committee had taken donations in excess of the Cook County contribution limits on "entities doing business or seeking to do business" at least 45 times, as detailed in earlier research done by the Illinois Green Party

Shore's donations can be found online at Illinois Sunshine, and the MWRD's contracting records (dating back five years) are available at a portal on the MWRD webpage

"With all due respect to Debra Shore and the work she's done on the MWRD, the falsehoods about campaign contributions have got to stop," said Geoffrey Cubbage, a Green Party candidate for the MWRD Board of Commissioners. "Honesty with the press and honesty with the electorate is fundamental for any candidate seeking office. You can't tell newspapers and voters that you're voluntarily following a specific, definable campaign contribution limit when your campaign has broken that limit nearly fifty times. That's not a small error or an accidental oversight."

The Illinois Green Party has been highlighting the relationship between MWRD contractors and contributions to incumbent MWRD Commissioners' campaigns this year, pointing out that more than half the MWRD's contracting dollars go to firms that donated to at least one (and often multiple) Commissioners' election funds. 

All told, the MWRD has issued at least $722 million worth of contracts to donor firms in the last five years alone.  

"I'm glad the incumbents are feeling the need to respond to this pay-to-play issue," said Cubbage. "It's inappropriate to be taking money from the same firms whose contract bids you routinely evaluate. But the solution is to stop taking those donations, not to lie to the public and the press about how much money you're taking."

Illinois Green Party candidates take no corporate contributions. The Green Party has a full slate of candidates for the MWRD Board of Commissioners in the November 6th election: three candidates for full six-year terms and two candidates for partial, two-year terms.

For more information, contact Greens for MWRD at campaign@mwrd-ilgp.org, or call 773-809-4547. The Green Party candidates on the November 6th ballot will be: Chris Anthony, Karen Roothaan, and Tammie Vinson for full, six-year terms, and Rachel Wales and Geoffrey Cubbage to fill two partial, two-year vacancies.

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