Dailly, Rahman swap fundraising accusations in Schaumburg mayoral race
Two of the three candidates for Schaumburg mayor traded allegations of improper practices in their campaign fundraising Wednesday.
Nafees Rahman claimed a $1,000 contribution to opponent Tom Dailly from the Schaumburg Community Church represented a violation of the IRS code on restrictions of political campaign intervention by a tax-exempt organization.
Dailly, in turn, claimed Rahman waited at least 10 days beyond the required one-day notice to inform the Illinois State Board of Elections that his campaign reached self-funding status this month by receiving $100,000 from himself or immediate family within the past year.
Because of Rahman's self-funding status, Dailly and fellow mayoral candidate Matthew Steward received notice from state election officials Monday that they were permitted to accept campaign contributions in excess of limitations normally imposed on donors.
According to the notification document Rahman signed March 15, his campaign had received $94,810.34 from his wife, Laila, between Nov. 11 and March 4.
Dailly questioned why Rahman waited until March 15 to notify the State Board of Elections when the contribution of $40,000 on March 4 apparently put his campaign over the self-funding threshold for the year. Instructions on the document specify that exceeding personal contributions of $250,000 for a statewide office or $100,000 for any other office require notification within one business day.
Rahman responded that he's followed procedures explained by his attorney and faces no fines or penalties from state election officials.
"We feel I'm doing everything correctly," Rahman said. "Mr. Dailly has no story here."
Dailly also questioned the amount of personal funding put into winning an office that pays $25,000 per year.
"That is between my wife and I," Rahman responded. " (Dailly) should focus on raising his own funds and leave my funding alone."
Rahman said he filed a complaint about Schaumburg Community Church's contribution to Dailly with the IRS and the charitable trust division of the Illinois attorney general's office. An IRS spokesman said his agency never comments about such matters to third parties, and the attorney general's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Rahman said that while the acceptance of such contributions doesn't violate Illinois election law, the contribution violates IRS code.
Richard Means, an Oak Park-based election law attorney with no personal or professional ties to the Schaumburg election, agreed. The basic question, he said, is whether the church has the typical 501(c) 3 nonprofit status and made the donation from its general fund.
"If it was, they are not permitted to make that kind of donation," Means said. "The people who are in legal trouble are the church."
Representatives of Schaumburg Community Church could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Though the candidate who receives such a donation is not technically at fault, he or she can potentially resolve the matter by voluntarily returning the check, Means said. That doesn't guarantee the church won't be penalized, but it would be a repair consistent with the intent of the law, he added.
Dailly said that's what he intends to do.
"If that is the case, I will be glad to return those funds to the church," he said. "It's not a campaign issue for me. This is an issue between the church and the IRS. For Nafees to imply otherwise is wrong."
As a political office holder for 25 years, Dailly said he's learned the basics of election law, but not IRS tax codes that a church should know to protect its 501(c) 3 status.
Steward said the missteps he sees by his fellow candidates is as frustrating as the fact they're now slinging mud over them.
"I wish we could be having debates about our qualifications and credentials to be Schaumburg mayor," he said.
As far as the complaint against Dailly, Steward said that as the candidate who claims to have all the experience in the race, his acceptance of a campaign donation has endangered the status of a church in the community.
Regarding Dailly's criticism of Rahman, Steward said the reason the rules of campaign funding notification exist are not so candidates will do the best they can to follow them but to provide their opponents with necessary and timely information.
"This late in the game, it feels like it couldn't be coincidence," he said.