Incumbents have a distinct advantage when running for re-election. Nationwide, incumbents have an 80% rate of being re-elected. One of the advantages they have is taxpayer funding mailings to constituents. When these mailings are times close to an election, you, the taxpayer, are helping to fund their re-election campaign. Below are some mailers sent out by incumbent county board candidates and the cost for each. You paid $21,722 for these mailers to help these candidates.
The candidates who are using taxpayer money to mail the voters are as follows:
|Terry Wilke (D)||8/15/2012
| $ 1,836.75
|Michael Carbone (R)||Wilke-Postcard
|Melinda Bush (D)||9/15/2012||$ 2,236.00||Joe Neal (R)||Carey/Bush-Postcard|
|Carol Calabresa (R) *||2/3/2012||$ 1,382.52||Del Parra (D)||*|
|Pat Carey (D)||9/15/2012||$ 1,152.80||Jeff Werfel (R)||Carey/Bush-Postcard|
|Bonnie Thomson Carter (R)||9/13/2012||$ 2,595.30||Patricia Ferruzza (D)||Carter-Letter|
|Mary Cunningham (D)||9/15/2012||$ 1,500.00||Joe Schmitt (R)||Cunningham-Postcard|
|Linda Pederson (R)||9/13/2012||$ 2,416.80||Peter Grant (D)||Pedersen Property Tax Postcard-Antioch
Pedersen Property Tax Postcard-Lake Villa
|Yearly Total||$ 14,956.92|
Board members Diane Hewitt (D) and Diana O’Kelly (R) both sent out mailings.
They are not listed since they had no opponent.
Cost Source Document: Allowance Expenditures – 2012
Four Democrats and 3 Republicans sent out mailings within 90 days of an election with 7 of the 8 mailings with 60 days. The 2 most egregious examples of using taxpayer payer money to aid their campaign are Bush/Carey with a combined mailer and Terry Wilke sending 2 mailers. These particular mailers account for 47% of the taxpayer money spent.
Melinda Bush, who is running for State Senate combined with Pat Carey to send their mailing at a cost of nearly $3400. Board members are only allowed to send mailing to just their current board district constituents, not the redrawn districts. By combining their names onto a single mailer to each of their 2 current districts they were able to cover nearly all the voters in the new 6th board district. This was a blatant campaign tactic that mostly benefits Carey, but does help Bush as well because all of this area is also in the 31st State Senate District in which Bush is running.
Shown below is the bottom of the card. You’ll notice several items highlighting it’s political nature.
- Both of their names & pictures are displayed prominently
- The current board districts are not listed for either Bush or Carey
- There is a request to contact EITHER of them for help
This is the response to my FOIA on who the list was mailed to and what happened with any returned mailings.
Voter registration lists were used for most of the mailing addresses. Some mailing addresses were put together by the board member themselves.
With respect to item 4, unfortunately, we do not keep track of returned letters/postcards. We give all returned mail to the respective board members for their information. We do not track or retain them here in the County Board Office.
Returns are given back to the board members themselves. This policy is a potential problem because it allows a board member or a member of their campaign staff to target these addresses for abesentee or election day vote fraud. Poll watchers should be made aware of this and the returned names/addresses watched carefully.
* Mailing sent in primary only
Carol Calabresa (R) used this privilege, sending a mailing in late November and again in February. She was in a contested primary with the election on March 20, 2012. These 2 mailings costs you almost $4,000.
There quite a few others who sent out mailings in the last quarter of 2011 as well totaling $36,761.06. These were
- Melinda Bush
- Carol Calabresa
- Pat Carey
- Steve Carlson
- Bonnie Thomson Carter
- Mary Cunningham
- Diane Hewitt
- Diana O’Kelly
- Linda Pederson
- David Stolman
- Craig Taylor
- Terry Wilke