Former state Sen. Annazette Collins charged in new tax indictment

The legislator-turned-lobbyist, who lost her primary in 2012, now has ties to two of the feds’ ongoing corruption investigations.

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Former state Sen. Annazette Collins

Sun-Times file

A former state senator-turned-lobbyist with ties to two of the feds’ burgeoning corruption investigations faces tax charges in a new indictment filed Wednesday.

Annazette Collins, 58, has been charged with two counts of filing a false individual income tax return, two counts of failing to file a corporate income tax return and one count of failing to file an individual income tax return.

Reached Wednesday by the Chicago Sun-Times, Collins declined to comment.

The indictment alleges Collins filed false tax returns for 2014 and 2015, when she claimed her income was $11,533 and $10,154, respectively. She allegedly failed to file an individual tax return for 2016 and allegedly failed to file corporate tax returns for 2015 and 2016 on behalf of her consulting and lobbying firm, Kourtnie Nicole Corp.

Collins lost the Democratic primary in 2012, and records show she worked as a lobbyist for ComEd from 2014 until 2019. In 2020, federal prosecutors accused ComEd of a years-long Chicago-style bribery scheme. It allegedly sent $1.3 million in indirect payments to associates of then-House Speaker Michael Madigan for doing little or no work for the utility, all while ComEd hoped to land Madigan’s support for legislation in Springfield worth more than $150 million.

Madigan has not been charged with a crime, and he denies wrongdoing.

Also charged in a related bribery indictment last November were Madigan confidant Michael McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, onetime ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and ex-City Club President Jay Doherty.

Court records filed Wednesday in connection with Collins’ indictment listed a grand jury number matching the one in other records related to the ComEd investigation.

The Sun-Times has also reported that Collins lobbied in support of unlicensed video gambling machines known as sweepstakes machines. They are at the heart of a bribery case that has led to charges against former state Rep. Luis Arroyo and businessman James T. Weiss, son-in-law of former Cook County Democratic Party chairman and ex-county assessor Joseph Berrios.

Collins lobbied in 2019 for Weiss’ company, Collage LLC, records show.

This is not the first time Collins has faced federal scrutiny. The Sun-Times reported in 2012 that federal prosecutors had opened a criminal investigation into a series of legislative scholarships Collins had awarded. Collins lost her primary that year to Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins, who turned a controversy over tuition waivers by Collins into a cornerstone of her campaign.

Collins’ name also came up during the federal fraud trial in 2017 of a woman who would be convicted for spending state grant funds on shoes, cars and other personal expenses. The woman put the grant money into an account she then used to make a $100 payment to Collins’ campaign, according to testimony.

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