Evanston Together LLC, the political action committee formed last month to back several candidates in the April 6 aldermanic election, disclosed its donors late Thursday.
In a copy of a filing submitted to the the State Board of Elections sent to Evanston Now, the group said it had raised $13,000 from eight named donors and spent $12,957.96 on mailings to residents about the election.
The two largest donors to the group were Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty and Hoda Halim, a member of the family that owns Wilmette Real Estate & Management Company, a firm that owns or manages many apartment buildings in Evanston.
Each gave $5,000 to the group.
Other supporters are Paul Brown of 425 Grove St., Michael Davis of 2726 Sheridan Road, Zak and Nicole Kustock of 2626 Sheridan Road, Kent Swanson of 1110 Forest Ave. and Kathy Tisdahl of 1317 Livingston St.
State regulations require that contributions of $1,000 or more received in the 30 days before an election be reported within two business days.
Since the Evanston Together LLC quarterly report indicates its contributions of $1,000 or more were received on either March 23 or March 24, it would appear that disclosure deadline was not met.
Ed Mullen, an attorney whose practice includes election law issues, says that the group also appears to have failed to meet the two-business-day deadline for reporting some its independent expenditures on behalf of candidates. It reported spending more than $9,000 on direct mail pieces on March 26.
April 1 is the start of a 15 day filing period for full campaign finance reports covering the first quarter of 2021. Given that schedule, it is likely that many campaigns won’t file reports until after next Tuesday’s election.
The mayor issued a statement early today explaining his support for the group:
“When several municipal candidates suggested at a March 2 NAACP forum that they are open to reconsidering Evanston’s form of government, I could no longer stand by silently during this campaign season.
“As a voter, would you ever consider electing our School Superintendents? I can’t imagine. And, as your current mayor, I think it would be detrimental to our City to replace our almost 70 year professionally run City Manager-Council form of government with a Mayor-Council form of government, even if such change offered me and my successors more power.
“I would invite you to look into why nine of the ten cities recognized in 2019 with the coveted National Civic League’s “All-America City” award were Council-Manager forms of government. There’s a reason Evanston is a finalist this year; the Council-Manager form of government works effectively. It also protects minority communities from the politics of the majority, as articulated by Aldermen Peter Braithwaite and Eleanor Revelle, and 5th Ward candidate Bobby Burns at the NAACP forum.
“To those that say this is a tangential issue — not something candidates are really proposing — I suggest they research closely those that are open to this idea. What you’ll find are candidates and their supporters unhappy with the difficult but responsible decisions this Council has made over the last four years. Decisions including those related to development projects, Harley Clarke, FOIA, the Robert Crown Community Center, the City Clerk, hiring a highly qualified City Manager, and my request for a criminal investigation into an intentionally leaked executive session packet that exposed city employees afforded privacy protections under State law. The culmination of their anger was to try and pass an unconstitutional binding referendum process that bypasses our elected representatives. Don’t think if elected they wouldn’t also vote to change our form of government, forcing our entire City into a time consuming, expensive, and unnecessary referendum debate.
“Evanston is one of the best cities in America because we have combined the political leadership of elected representatives, including a Mayor, with the strong, capable experience of a professional public administrator. Let’s continue to be in the good company of cities like Ann Arbor, Austin, Berkeley, Boulder, Cambridge, and thousands of other cities who recognize the significant benefits of Council-Manager forms of government, and reject the political free-for-all and cronyism that can come from Mayor-Council forms of government.”
Update 5:00 p.m.: Late this afternoon Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, one of the candidates endorsed by Evanston Together, said, “I did not solicit the endorsement. I was not notified or interviewed for an endorsement. The mailers were sent out without my input”
He added, “I continue to run a positive campaign based on my service to my residents, and stand by my motto that ‘We are one community.’ When this election is over, we will all have to work together to move Evanston forward.”