Former COD trustee files complaint against Clean Slate
A former College of DuPage trustee who was ousted during the spring election says the group that helped elect three reform candidates broke campaign disclosure rules by failing to report a $20,000 loan in a timely manner.
Kim Savage has filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections against the Clean Slate for College of DuPage Committee -- the group that supported new COD trustees Deanne Mazzochi, Charles Bernstein and Frank Napolitano.
After winning the April 7 election, Mazzochi, Bernstein and Napolitano created a new majority on the COD board and elevated Trustee Kathy Hamilton -- a longtime critic of COD President Robert Breuder -- to the position of board chairwoman.
In her complaint against the Clean Slate committee, Savage says the group received a $20,000 loan from the Committee to Elect Kathy Hamilton on April 27, almost three weeks after the election. That loan wasn't reported to the state board of elections until May 17, she said.
According to state election officials, candidates legally are required to report contributions of more than $1,000 within five business days of receiving them. Those contributions must be reported within two business days if an election is scheduled in 30 days or less.
"The Clean Slate ran on a very vocal platform of total transparency and to end all alleged violations of policy, yet their own campaign clearly failed to follow one of the simplest requirements of the Campaign Disclosure Act," Savage said.
Jim Nalepa, the chairman of the Clean Slate committee, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Clayton Mark Turner, the Clean Slate campaign manager, said in an email that the committee has reported all donations and expenses.
"The Clean Slate Committee has corrected technical nonconformities and is fully compliant," he wrote.
During the campaign, the Clean Slate candidates vowed to bring change to the board, which had come under fire after awarding Breuder a $762,868 severance package.
That package, to which Hamilton cast the lone "no" vote, will pay Breuder nearly three times his base salary when he retires in 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.
Since being seated, the new board majority has enacted sweeping reforms and placed Breuder on paid administrative leave. Most recently, the board put two of COD's top financial administrators on leave amid questions involving their investment practices.
On Tuesday, Hamilton said she knows about Savage's complaint. "You know you're making progress when people start attacking you," she said.
Savage has talked to state board of elections officials, who sought to confirm she wants to pursue the complaint.
If it's determined that the Clean Slate committee violated state election rules, the group could be fined. However, it won't change the outcome of the election.
Savage said she filed the complaint as a matter of principle.
"The Clean Slate was so adamant about people following rules and policies," Savage said, "but they didn't follow this particular rule."
Mazzochi and Napolitano didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
Bernstein said he wasn't aware of Savage's complaint until Tuesday, when a reporter called him about it.
"I would have liked to have seen the same burning curiosity about how money was accounted for and spent at the college as there seems to be on the Clean Slate," Bernstein said.