COD candidates spar over campaign disclosure filings

  • College of DuPage trustee candidate David Carlin first raised concerns about opponents' campaign disclosures during a candidate forum in Glen Ellyn.

      College of DuPage trustee candidate David Carlin first raised concerns about opponents' campaign disclosures during a candidate forum in Glen Ellyn. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/1/2015 1:33 PM
Editor's note: Due to the large number of candidates in the COD board race, we're not always able to include all their positions in every election-related story we publish, but we encourage them to post comments at the end of this story to provide their views.

A former College of DuPage trustee making a bid to return to the board is accusing three opponents of breaking campaign disclosure rules by failing to report thousands of dollars of in-kind donations in a timely manner.

But members of the three-person slate running against David Carlin and eight other candidates in the April 7 COD board race insist they're in compliance with Illinois State Board of Elections guidelines. They say Carlin is trying to distract from real issues in the campaign.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The candidates Carlin is criticizing -- Deanne Mazzochi, Charles Bernstein and Frank Napolitano -- are being supported by the Clean Slate for College of DuPage Committee. COD Trustee Kathy Hamilton also is endorsing the trio for three available seats in Tuesday's election.

On Saturday, Mazzochi and Napolitano reported receiving in-kind donations totaling $14,711 and $11,856, respectively, from the Clean Slate group and the Committee to Elect Kathy Hamilton. The groups paid vendors to provide services to the candidates that include mailings, signs, campaign phone calls and a website.

On Monday, Bernstein reported the $11,856 in-kind donations that his campaign received from the two groups.

"All my A-1s (reports of campaign contributions of $1,000 or more) are up to date," Bernstein said Tuesday. "We are all up to date on that."

Mazzochi didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. Napolitano said in an email that he is in compliance with state election rules.

But Carlin contends Mazzochi, Bernstein and Napolitano didn't file their reports in a timely fashion.

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According to state election officials, candidates legally are required to report in-kind donations within five business days of receiving them. Those donations must be reported within two business days if an election is scheduled in 30 days or less.

Carlin claims the reports filed by Mazzochi, Bernstein and Napolitano are "inaccurate at best."

"The website has been live for months," said Carlin, a Naperville resident. "The yard signs have been out for months. And from my experience, you have to prepay printing and postage for the mailers. No vendor in their right mind is going to float somebody for thousands of dollars' worth of expenditures."

Carlin said he believes the bills for the services Mazzochi, Bernstein and Napolitano received were paid "long ago" but weren't immediately reported.

Carlin said he wants to bring his concerns to the public's attention but has no plans to file a formal complaint against the three candidates.

COD Trustee Kim Savage, who is seeking re-election, on Tuesday joined Carlin in criticizing the timeliness of the Clean Slate candidates' A-1 reports.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It is disturbing that a group that is running on a platform of transparency appears to be deliberately skirting Illinois campaign disclosure rules and only filed required reports after another candidate raised the question in a public forum," Savage said.

Carlin first raised the issue last week during a candidate forum in Glen Ellyn. But Bernstein insists he and his running mates didn't file their reports in response to Carlin.

"Whatever we have done is because we want to be within the law," said Bernstein, who is a Wheaton resident. "We want to do the right thing. We want to do it correctly."

Bernstein then accused Carlin of trying to distract from the real issues facing COD. During the campaign the Clean Slate candidates promised to bring change to the board, which has come under fire after awarding Breuder a $762,868 severance package.

That package, to which Hamilton cast the lone "no" vote, calls for COD President Robert Breuder to be paid nearly three times his base salary when he retires next March, about three years before his contract's scheduled expiration date. It also calls for the college to name its Homeland Security Education Center in Breuder's honor.

"There are issues that are affecting a lot of people," Bernstein said. "I really don't see how this (Carlin's claim) is one of them."

Carlin said it's "extremely relevant" to show whether a candidate is following the rules during the campaign.

"Candidates who are talking about reforming College of DuPage should start by reforming their own campaigns and following campaign disclosure laws," Carlin said.

Savage said she's concerned because outside political organizations "from well outside of the district" have poured money into the race.

"While other candidates are working hard to raise grass-roots donations so they can adequately reach voters, the Clean Slate seems determined to hide where their big-dollar funding is coming from at least until after the election," she said.

The other candidates are Dan Bailey of Wheaton, Claire Ball of Addison, Roger Kempa of Darien, Matt Gambs of Naperville, Sandra Pihos of Glen Ellyn, Joseph M. Wozniak of Naperville and incumbent Nancy Svoboda of Downers Grove.

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