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updated: 8/13/2014 10:00 AM

DuPage County approves contracts with lobbyists

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DuPage County Board members have agreed to spend $284,000 to continue using four lobbying firms at the state and federal levels.

A series of contracts with All-Circo Inc., V.A. Persico Consulting Inc., BGR Government Affairs LLC, and McGuire Woods Consulting were approved on Tuesday after county board Chairman Dan Cronin said it was "critical" that the county maintain a presence in Washington, D.C. and Springfield.

"I can tell you firsthand how important it is to have advocates on the ground representing the county," said Cronin, a former state lawmaker.

He said DuPage's lobbyists speak directly with legislators on a daily basis to convey the county's priorities and positions.

The largest of contract approved by the board on Tuesday is with All-Circo, which will be paid $120,000 from Sept. 15 to Sept. 14, 2015. The firm represents the county at the state level along with V.A. Persico.

Vince Persico, who is a former state legislator from Glen Ellyn, serves as DuPage's lead lobbyist in Springfield. His firm will be paid $60,000 from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, 2015.

BGR Government Affairs, based in Washington, D.C., will be get $80,000 to promote the county's interests at the federal level between Sept. 1 and Aug. 31, 2015.

Finally, McGuire Woods Consulting will be paid $24,000 as part of its contract with DuPage. It represents the county board and DuPage Health Department.

Despite the approval of the contracts, board member Elizabeth Chaplin voiced concern about All-Circo and McGuire Woods failing to disclose several campaign donations they had made to board members within the past 12 months.

"The vendors didn't skip over the item," she said. "They wrote 'none.'"

It later was learned that All-Circo in December gave an in-kind contribution to Cronin. It was for transportation valued at $1,445. Also in December, McGuire Woods donated $500 to board member Tonia Khouri.

"Whether they misunderstood the form or disregarded the form, I think it's an issue," said Chaplin, adding the county needs a better way of documenting campaign contributions from vendors.

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