Tag Archives: Chair

Carrie Hightman Tied to Bobby Rush Scandal

29 Dec

by Ken Davidson

A new investigation by the Illinois Better Government Association, while not specifically mentioning Hightman, calls the relationship between SBC Illinois and the Office of Congressman Bobby Rush into question. Andy Shaw, President and CEO of the Better Government Association is quick to point out “We’re not suggesting that Rush broke the law, but we are saying the fog needs to be cleared and real answers provided.” SBC Illinois was the donor of the $1M grant to Rush’s non-profit organization. The grant was supposed to build a technology center in Chicago’s troubled Englewood neighborhood. According to reports from the BGA, the center was never built and the money was never accounted for. Shaw calls for an investigation into:

[Rush] maintains the money wasn’t stolen or squandered, but that claim, without verification, doesn’t suffice, so we’re suggesting some options for shining more light on the situation:

The House Ethics Committee can see if Rush crossed any legal or ethical lines in regards to the million-dollar grant, his charity accepting tons of money from regulated companies seeking his legislative help, and his campaign office apparently not paying rent.
The Federal Election Commission can look at whether Rush or his campaign operation violated federal law by apparently accepting free rent, not reporting it as an in-kind donation and possibly exceeding donation limits.
The Internal Revenue Service can investigate the tax implications of all this, including whether Rush’s nonprofit violated the law by wrongly claiming on one disclosure form the tech center had been built, which wasn’t true.
The IRS can also find out if Rush used campaign cash to enhance his personal lifestyle, which is what got former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in trouble.
http://www.bettergov.org/the_million-dollar_question/?CategoryId=1

Any such investigation would obviously focus on whether or not the grantor received anything of value in return for the no strings grant. Regardless of whether there was any impropriety in the transaction, the situation calls into question the professional judgment of Hightman.

Carrie Hightman, the Chair of the Gary P3 Committee, became Chief Legal Office for NiSource in 2007 after serving as CEO of AT&T Illinois, which was formerly SBC Illinois. In a statement released when Hightman joined NiSource, her experience in ” regulatory, legislative, governmental and external affairs activities, as well as community and industry relations, throughout Illinois” were cited. The statement went on to explain:

During her tenure at AT&T, Hightman led the company through a series of important public policy initiatives as AT&T evolved from a traditional telephone company into a provider of diversified communications and entertainment services, including wireline, wireless, data and video services. Under her leadership, AT&T secured unanimous regulatory approval of a landmark agreement to deregulate local telephone service and offer competitive pricing in the metropolitan Chicago market, as well as helped the company return to the long distance telephone market after a twenty-year absence.

The SBC Foundation states that they provide grants of $25,000 to $50,000. The Gazette could find no evidence of any other single grant in any amount near $1M. Additionally, the 990 tax forms submitted by the Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corporation listed no such contribution, despite a specific question asking about “Unusual Grants.”

28 Unusual Grants: For an organization described in line 10, 11, or 12 that received any unusual grants during 20001hrough 2003, prepare a list for your records
to show, for each year, the name of the contributor, the date and amount of the grant, and a brief description of the nature of the grant. Do not file this list with
your return. Do not include these grants in line 15.
423121 12-03-04 NONE Schedule A (Form BBO or 990-EZ) 2004

Source: http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/364/364078159/364078159_200503_990.pdf
Hightman was instrumental in selecting the contractor that was recently approved by the airport board to run the airport for up to 40 years.  While this information was not disclosed to the airport board, the Gazette has previously reported on the connection between Hightman and one of the companies involved in the partnership that was ultimately selected.

The Better Government Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is not affiliated with the Northwest Indiana Gazette.  You can read the entire BGA article at their website  The Million Dollar Question

Van Til Rants About Air Show, No Word on Corruption

26 Nov

by Ken Davidson

Fair Oaks to host South Shore Air Show

South Shore Air Show moved from Gary, IN to Fair Oaks Farms.

Only in Lake County, Indiana does an airshow warrant a comment from a politician facing numerous felony counts for abusing his position. In a facebook post, indicted yet still working county surveyor George Van Til criticizes the South Shore Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for moving the Air Show from Gary to Fair Oaks Farms for 2014:

The Air Show is not about whats good for Lake County, its citizens and taxpayers. Its about the massive ego t of Spiros (sic) B. that constantly needs to be ministered to , his continuous financial advancement into the upper reaches, and his lust for power. He is so very insecure so he has picked fights with so many Public Servants through the years, to try to massage himself, along with his relentless self promotion in the media, NOT the promotion of Lake County! Last I looked his contract , with unreal perks was at 168,000 yearly, plus a car, plus all the fuel, plus unlimited food reimbursement here and in Indianapolis for his girlfriend there, unlimited dining with legislators , night after night, year after year and anything else he feels like to advance HIMSELF ,The mohey is probably much, much more by now .Now the pig has come out of the poke. ! He has snaked our elected Mayors, and slapped them and every citizen of our county , we pay him, what a quarter million dollars a year, to spend huge amounts of our money to promote himself, big bussiness, and couhties south of here, Using our money to hurt our county and cost us losses. Mayor McDermott you are so rightvon (sic) this one, All other Mayors join hands , asPublic Servants against this self serving self promoter who desperately wants to become th Tourism Czar of all of Northwest Indiana or more. ? Combining area efforts might even be a good idea, done right, but it will NEVER work or nefer hapoen until Spiros (sic) is GONE. Too many people know him too well, and now with his newest Flyin Pig Circus his crass opportunism is open for all to see. ? And theres so much more, personal , political, financial thats coming out now if he pushes. Talk about time for a change! Its today.

Logic tells us that, if the Chair of the Democratic Party wanted the Air Show in his city, it would be there. Apparently, logic has no place in the thinking of George Van Til as his rant appears to indicate that Mayor McDermott was somehow left out of the loop in this decision. If George Van Til has anything worthwhile to say, maybe he should save it for his change of plea hearing. He may get a month or two off his sentence.

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Libertarian Party of Lake County Meeting Thursday 11/21

20 Nov

Submitted by Beth Duensing, Lake County Libertarian Party Chair

Just a quick reminder that the LPLC meeting is tomorrow at 6:30 Pm. We
will meet in the back dining area of Amarillo Roadhouse in Schererville.

All are welcome to attend. If you’re not already a voting member consider
joining the National LP via this link. When you join the LP before the end
of the month you will receive a copy of Rex Bell’s book, Stinky Shorts. The
book is a very entertaining compilation of short stories with libertarian
viewpoints.

http://www.lp.org/join

The agenda will include determining when and where our county convention
will be held plus discussions regarding possible candidate training and
outreach opportunities. If you would like to be a candidate in 2014 now is
the time to start planning!

See you at the meeting.