Indicted Lawmaker Did Not List Some PAC Money, Data Shows
Campaign reports for Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-Ill.), indicted last week on sexual charges, fail to list thousands of dollars in contributions since 1991 as required by law, a review of election records found.
A spot check of the unreported political action committee donations turned up some that were deposited at two banks that at the time were not registered to handle his campaign accounts.
The Chicagoan’s campaign finances are being investigated by federal authorities. State officials last week charged him with child pornography and sexual assault of a 16-year-old campaign volunteer.
The government imposes strict rules requiring campaigns to quickly disclose donations and spending to ensure no political money is misused.
Federal law imposes penalties up to $5,000, or 100% of the campaign money involved, for failure to disclose donations. The Federal Election Commission can double those fines and also recommend criminal prosecution if the violations were knowing and willful.
Reynolds and his former campaign treasurer, who has filed a complaint against the congressman with the FEC alleging campaign irregularities, differ on who is to blame for the finance problems.
Reynolds said any unreported PAC contributions were spent on the campaign. He blamed former treasurer Earl Worthington.
“If it wasn’t on the report, that means that either Mr. Worthington deliberately didn’t put it on or it was an oversight,” Reynolds said. He said he is reviewing all campaign records and would file amended reports to disclose any donations that previously were not.
Worthington, however, said he was “just a ghost treasurer” who followed Reynolds’ instructions.
Worthington said he believed the congressman frequently converted all or portions of contribution checks into cash instead of depositing the entire donations and writing out checks to cover bills.
“He probably just wanted to use my name so that if anybody caught on . . . he would use me as a fall guy. And that’s what he’s trying to do,” Worthington said.
PACs, the political arms of special interest lobbies, can contribute up to $10,000 to a candidate per two-year election cycle.
PACs and candidates are required to report to the FEC. Through a computer-assisted search of those reports, the Associated Press compared what PACs said they contributed to Reynolds with what Reynolds recorded on his own reports.