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Cook County commissioner candidate alleges opponent violated ethics ordinance

Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Cook County Board Democratic primary candidate Alma Anaya talk to reporters at City Hall about alleged ethics code violations in the race for the 7th District county commissioner seat, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

With two weeks until the primary, Alma Anaya, a candidate for Cook County commissioner, and Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) say illegal campaign contributions have given Anaya’s opponent an unfair advantage in the race.

Anaya, who is running to take over Garcia’s 7th District seat on the county board, filed a second request for investigation against her challenger Angie Sandoval on Tuesday after no action was taken on her February request.

“Pay-to-play politics is definitely catching people’s attention,” Anaya said at a news conference. “We’re seeing that happens with the assessor and some other politicians that people are tired. It’s time that we stand up and fight against this type of machine politics.”

Garcia, who is running for a Democratic seat in the state’s 4th Congressional district, added that the “illegal” contributions are a sign of the political “machine playbook” at work.

A county ordinance prohibits companies that have contracts with the county from contributing more than $750 in non-election years.

That same ordinance is the reason Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios was slapped with a $41,000 fine by the county’s Board of Ethics for taking contributions in excess of the county’s limits.

Anaya said four contributions to Sandoval’s campaign show that her opponent is “following in the footsteps of Joe Berrios,” – an ally of Sandoval’s, according to Anaya.

Reliable Asphalt, which had a nearly $160,000 contract with the county, recently contributed $6,250 to Sandoval, records with the State Board of Elections show. Another contributor, D Construction Inc., which had a contract with the county last year, contributed $5,000, according to the Board of Elections.

There is also a complaint against Anaya for failing to disclose in-kind donations from Garcia, said Homero Tristan, a spokesperson for the Sandoval campaign. The outgoing commissioner defended Anaya, saying any allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Sandoval campaign’s are “cheap political stunts.”

Tristan called Anaya’s comments “baseless” and emphasized that Sandoval will continue to “focus on issues important to the community.”

“Angie Sandoval remains committed to the facts of the campaign and strongly denies the desperate allegations her opponent is making,” Tristan said.

“Alma Anaya’s baseless allegations are filed in retaliation to distract the public because Ms. Anaya herself has a pending complaint before the State Board of Elections due to Ms. Anaya’s purported violations of campaign finance law.”