Mihalopoulos: Ally of Rauner and Trump sails into port job
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Throughout the recent presidential campaign, this mostly blue state’s Republican governor tried to keep a safe distance from Donald Trump.
While Bruce Rauner skipped his party’s convention last summer, Palatine GOP leader Aaron Del Mar cheered Trump enthusiastically from the arena floor, as a member of the Illinois delegation in Cleveland.
That difference must not matter much because Rauner picked Del Mar last week to represent him at the city-state agency that runs the port of Chicago through June 2020. Del Mar stands to make $20,000 a year to sit on the Illinois International Port District’s board, which meets once a month.
Del Mar says he’s the best person for the job, citing a degree in public management from Indiana University, his prior service as a Palatine village trustee and his current position as Palatine Township’s highway commissioner.
“I’m honored the governor appointed me to this position,” Del Mar said. “My resume speaks for itself. I have real-life experience and the educational background.”
During his stint as the Cook County GOP’s chairman, Del Mar gained perhaps his widest notoriety beyond the northwest suburbs for a string of menacing text messages he allegedly sent his ex-wife in 2013. According to court documents, Del Mar “threatened to initiate physical violence against [his ex-wife’s] significant other” in such text messages:
- “U don’t know me or what I’m capable of.”
- “I’m fully prepared for the repercussions and consequences of kicking his [butt].”
- “My suggestion is to keep him as far away from me as possible . . . If it gets physical, that would really look bad.”
- “Tell him to watch his back.”
The ex-wife sought a “no contact” order but withdrew the request. Del Mar, 37, said he had no regrets when asked in 2014 about that behavior. “Any parent or husband would have acted in a similar fashion,” he said. “I defended my family.”
Del Mar’s Palatine Township Republicans endorsed Rauner in the 2014 primary.
In this year’s race for the Republican presidential nomination, Del Mar initially backed Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who had help from other Rauner allies.
Rauner then made clear he had better places to be than at the convention when the GOP nominated Trump last summer.
But the state party’s central committee chose Del Mar to go to Cleveland as an at-large delegate for Trump, and he reveled in the experience.
Del Mar stood next to the state party chairman at the convention as he declared that most of the delegates from Illinois were giving their backing to Trump.
On Facebook, Del Mar posted a photo of the “Make America Great Again” ball caps, T-shirts and other Trump swag that delegates got.
“Special thanks to ‘The Donald’ for the welcome package!” Del Mar wrote. “Who doesn’t love free Trump stuff?”
Besides his role in Republican Party politics, Del Mar has been involved in suburban companies that organize parties. The state slapped his Articulate Promotions Inc. with tax liens for a total of more than $4,000 in 2012 and 2013, records show.
Del Mar dissolved the company in January, and he said Tuesday he would have to ask his accountant whether the allegedly unpaid state taxes were paid after all.
Rauner made the appointment of Del Mar to the port district board on Friday, according to state records. The governor’s spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.
Under state law, the Democratic-controlled Illinois Senate and Chicago’s Democratic mayor, Rahm Emanuel, must approve the governor’s pick.
If Del Mar’s old company still is on the hook for taxes to the state, it might be nice for taxpayers if they could deduct that money from his pay as a port board member.
He also could ask the wealthy governor — or even tweet the billionaire president-elect — for help in covering any amount he might owe the state.Tweets by @dmihalopoulos