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Suit: Chair of Topinka’s committee took nearly $90K for personal use

The son of former state comptroller Judy Baar Topinka filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging the chair of his mother’s campaign committee took nearly $90,000 from committee accounts for personal use after his mother died last year.

The suit alleges that Nancy Kimme, Judy Baar Topinka’s former chief of staff and chair of Citizens for Judy Baar Topinka, withdrew $25,000 and $63,807 from the fund on separate occasions in January and August 2015.

Kimme said the $63,807 that was withdrawn in August was returned to the account in an effort to consolidate the committee’s bank accounts after the former comptroller died in December 2014. The $25,000 previously withdrawn, she said, was used to pay the stipends of campaign staffers.

That money was “used for Kimme’s personal purposes,” including “loans, debts, clothing, club memberships [and] travel expenses,” the suit stated.

The suit alleges that Kimme’s personal spending violated the Illinois Election Code and the State Gift Ban Act. However, the former aide said her work to keep the money within the committee was in line with Judy Baar Topinka’s philosophy.

“She didn’t want to use it for personal purposes,” Kimme said. “Clearly that’s what her wishes were and I feel like I need to follow her wishes.”

The committee’s treasurer, Bradley A. Burnett, was also named as a defendant. The suit states that, in his official capacity, he oversaw “the disbursal of any and all funds.”

Joseph Baar Topinka claims the committee fund had $341,618.52 on hand before 1998, and, citing the State Gift Ban Act, said those funds should be transferred directly to him.

“It just seems to me like he’s trying to get that money that was grandfathered in,” Kimme said.

Joseph Baar Topinka is being represented by former Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica.

The four-count suit asks the court to order Kimme to reimburse the money she allegedly spent and to see that Joseph Baar Topinka be transferred the $341,618.52 on hand before 1998.