With so much practice, Fioretti shouldn’t have problems paying campaign workers

SHARE With so much practice, Fioretti shouldn’t have problems paying campaign workers
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Bob Fioretti distributes campaign material to riders at the Clark and Lake CTA station during his 2015 mayoral campaign. File Photo. | Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media

Oops, he did it again.

Even after being busted for the same misdeed twice before, Bob Fioretti— the former alderman running for Cook County Board president in the upcoming Democratic primary — stiffed yet another campaign worker out of hard-earned wages.

A minimum-wage receptionist forFioretti’s 2015 campaign for mayor had to file a complaint with state officials. They forced the frequent candidate to finally pay up a couple months ago, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

You might have thoughtFiorettiwould have learned about the importance of making good with campaign workers after he was exposed previously for failing to do so.

ANALYSIS

During the 2015 mayoral race, I reported that two workers forFioretti’s first campaign for 2ndWard alderman had successfully pressed state wage-theft claims against his political fund. Yet, even with the state on their side, the two women had to wait years to get thousands of dollars theFioretticampaign owed.

And now we know that Fioretti’s losing mayoral bid three years ago neglected to pay $800 that its receptionist was due to get long ago.

According to a complaint filed with the Illinois Department of Labor in July 2015, the former campaign staffer was to get $10 an hour, but “they never paid anything.” The complainant’s named was deleted from documents provided to the Sun-Times, with state officials citing a privacy exemption in the Illinois open-records law as reason for keeping the employee’s identity secret.

The lawyer for the Friends of BobFioretticampaign committee, Jeffrey D. Greenspan of Skokie, told the Labor Department he would provide proof that “everyone had been paid correctly,” according to state records.

Bob Fioretti, during his 2016 run for the Illinois Senate. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Bob Fioretti, during his run last year for the Illinois Senate. File Photo. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

In a letter to the state in November 2015, Greenspan said it was the campaign manager and a consultant who “oversaw the day-to-day operations” of Fioretti’s mayoral bid — not the candidate himself.

“Mr. RobertFiorettihad no responsibilities or oversight with regard to the committee or with regard to the campaign and its workers,” Greenspan told the state.

Labor Department officials ruled that Friends of BobFiorettibroke state law and ordered the campaign to pay up. The check for $800 — the full amount that the employee sought — came through in November, records show.

“This matter was addressed,” said a spokeswoman forFioretti’s current campaign for County Board president, declining to comment further on the employee’s case.

The situation with the mayoral campaign’s receptionist echoed the travails of Emily Miller and Jane Deronne, two young women who helped Fioretti get elected to the City Council in 2007.

Both Miller and Deronne were paid only after filing complaints with the state — and after officials sided with themagainstFioretti.

Miller finally got the $3,000 she was owed more than two years afterFiorettiwas sworn in as alderman. Deronne had been denied $1,475 in wages.

At the time those disputes became public,Fiorettitried to brush the issue aside, saying he firmly believed “people deserve to be paid for what they put in.”

When he lost badly in the first round of voting in the 2015 election,Fiorettithrew his support to Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the runoff. Despite years of animosity between the two men, Emanuel returned the favor of Fioretti’s runoff endorsement by hosting a post-election fundraiser forFioretti.

Ironically, the mayor told the crowd at the fundraiser that he hoped his assistance would ensure that Fiortetti’s campaign “pays everybody and everybody gets whole.”

Now, Fiorettiis the only challenger to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the March 20th primary. He promised his campaign will “play hardball with Preckwinkle on behalf of taxpayers.”

This sort of talk could appeal to taxpayers angry about the county’s sales tax hike and the tax on pop, which was repealed last year over Preckwinkle’s strong objections.

By hesitating to pay his own, most vulnerable campaign workers, Fioretti risks alienating the very voters he says he’s courting — the working people who expect to get paid fully and without delay.

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