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posted: 8/22/2012 4:42 PM

DuPage likely to keep lobbying firms

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After voicing satisfaction about what four lobbying firms accomplished this year for DuPage County, a county board committee is calling for the same strategy to be used next year.

On Tuesday, the full county board is expected to vote on the recommendation to keep the same team of lobbyists.

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If the one-year contracts totaling $324,000 are approved, three of the firms would continue to work with state lawmakers on the county's behalf, while the fourth would remain focused on federal initiatives.

"This is by far our best group of lobbyists so far," said JR McBride, chairman of the county board's legislative and government affairs committee. He specifically praised the ongoing lobbying efforts to secure federal funding for the extension of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway.

As part of its proposed contract, Washington, D.C.-based BGR Government Affairs LLC would be paid $120,000 from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, 2013 to promote the county's interests at the federal level. The DuPage Airport Authority is expected to reimburse the county $40,000, officials said.

Three other lobbyists -- All-Circo Inc., McGuire Woods Consulting and V.A. Persico Consulting Inc. -- would represent DuPage's interests in Springfield.

All-Circo would be paid a $120,000 from Sept. 15 to Sept. 14, 2013. The Chicago-based firm is owned by John J. Kelly, Jr., the husband of one of county board Chairman Dan Cronin's policy consultants. Julie Kelly is an unpaid volunteer, according to Cronin.

McGuire Woods Consulting would get $24,000 as part of its proposed contract with the county. The firm has represented the DuPage Health Department since 2008.

DuPage's lead state lobbyist would continue to be V.A. Persico Consulting Inc., which would be paid $60,000 from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, 2013. Vince Persico, a former state legislator from Glen Ellyn, has represented DuPage since 2003.

Despite four legislative committee members supporting the four contracts, panel member Dirk Enger this week opposed keeping all the lobbying firms.

"How effective are we going to be when (state lawmakers) can't even sit down and address the pension issue?" said Enger, adding that there's also gridlock at the federal level. "I just don't see where we could be very effective at this time."

County board member Don Puchalski acknowledged that he has been critical in the past of using lobbyists. Still, he said the county's lobbyists "have done a great job."

"These guys, especially our Springfield lobbyists, are able to get results," Puchalski said. "They do know how to work both sides of the aisle."

Vendor ethics disclosure statements show that two of the firms contributed to the campaigns of county board members within the last 12 months.

McGuire Woods Consulting in January donated $1,000 to county board member Pat O'Shea, who is vying for the 18th Judicial Circuit judge position against Democrat and Bolingbrook attorney Alice Wilson. Between September 2011 and February, Persico donated $645 to Cronin, $150 to O'Shea, $75 to board member Robert Larsen and $50 to board member Jim Zay, records show.

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