Big money on both sides of Elk Grove term limits issue

Big money is starting to flow in on both sides of the Elk Grove Village term limits referendum issue.

Campaign disclosure records filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections show large donations by two transportation businesses to Concerned Citizens of Elk Grove Village, the committee established by resident Tim Burns to support term limits on 22-year incumbent Mayor Craig Johnson and his long-tenured board of trustees. The mayor, meanwhile, has transferred $20,000 from his campaign committee to an effort to fight term limits.

A $3,400 donation, recorded with state officials Monday, was from Speed Freight, a transportation and logistics firm at 1550 E. Higgins Road. A company vice president on Friday declined to comment on the firm's support of the term limits effort.

The only other recorded campaign contribution to Burns' group was $1,500 from another trucking firm, Eurotrans Express, at 700 Nicholas Blvd., on Aug. 16. Officials there didn't respond to a request for comment.

On Friday, Burns thanked both companies for their support.

"Interest in term limits transcends all groups and is something we can all get behind," said Burns, a former Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 school board member and Elk Grove Village library board trustee. "Whether they have other interests than term limits is not something we can judge."

Johnson's $20,000 transfer from his campaign committee went to the Committee to Oppose the Retroactive Term Limits Referendum, which registered with the state Aug. 2, after Burns' group was set up July 22.

While not weighing in on the general concept of term limits, Johnson has said he opposes the referendum because it would apply to local officials like him who are already in office.

The ballot question would ask voters in the primary election next March whether the mayor and trustees should be able to serve no more than two consecutive 4-year terms. If approved, it would take effect in April 2021 and prevent four longtime incumbents from running.

The anti-term limits group is chaired by Kitty Weiner, a longtime political consultant, adviser to Johnson and member of the village plan commission. The committee's treasurer is Gil Schumm, also a plan commissioner, library board trustee and attorney.

So what exactly is each group paying for?

Burns' committee so far has only taken responsibility for one robocall and one mailer - among at least three anti-Johnson robocalls and three mailers that have arrived in mailboxes in August and September.

The mayor at this week's village board meeting tried to connect Burns to a controversial glossy-style campaign mailer that criticizes Johnson's Elk Grove Cares anti-opioid program for spending money to help non-Elk Grove residents. Burns did an earlier robocall that took aim at the program, while also promoting his term limits campaign.

On Friday, Burns said his group is only dealing with the term limits issue and isn't affiliated or coordinating with those behind the other mailers and robocalls.

Two robocalls were from a group identified as Citizens Against the Bahamas Bowl, taking aim at the village's sponsorship of the college football bowl game. Mailers on the anti-opioid program and a recent one criticizing Johnson and Weiner don't ascribe themselves to any group.

The anti-term limits committee has only sent one mailer: a letter from Johnson inviting residents who signed the term limits petition, but believe they were misled about its purpose, to sign an affidavit and put it in a return envelope to his home address.

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Tim Burns
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