The Lyons Elementary School District 103 was recently purchased for $11,512. The district, serving 2,600 students in west Cook County, has an annual budget over $30 million. What a great deal!
How the school district was bought:
The mayor of one of the five communities the district serves, Chris Getty, decided he should be running the district.
Mayor Getty got five of his henchmen to run for the school board.
Mayor Getty helped the henchmen form the Political Action Committee (PAC) Parents for Student Excellence on 2/24/15. It’s unusual to form a PAC for school board candidates – even in the Chicago area!
Three days later Getty’s own two PACs United Citizens Party and Citizens for Getty each gave Parents for Student Excellence $975 as seed money. Why such an odd number? Because the Illinois Board of Elections must be notified within two days of any donations over $1,000. $975 keeps it under the radar.
Citizens for Getty hid more expenditures as “in-kind contributions” until after the election. A few days before the election they spent $10,341.95 on “in-kind” printing and mailings on behalf of Parents for Student Excellence.
Not one of the five board candidates gave a penny to Parents for Student Excellence. Nor did they bother to show up for the League of Women Voters’ candidate forum.
In addition to the $10,341.95 of “in-kind” contributions Parents for Student Excellence spent $1,169.82 on pictures of themselves (for a flyer) and a mailing service. The PAC spent at total of $11,512.
So what did they spend it on? They sent out flyers and emails telling the residents that the district was “in disarray,” students got “bad test scores” and that the current board engaged in “wasteful spending.” (Riverside-Brookfield Landmark)
The PR blitz worked – four of the five henchmen were elected to the board of education. And Mayor Getty has given them their first marching orders: fire the interim superintendents and hire his political-buddy as superintendent, fire the district’s law firm and hire the mayor’s law firm. More firings and political hirings will come.
So that’s how you buy a school district for $11,512 – enter your own board candidates (but keep them out of the spotlight), fund their campaign with money from your PAC, use smear tactics against the other candidates, and count the votes on election night.
All figures were obtained from the Illinois Board of Election’s website.
Thanks again to the great reporting by Bob Uphues at the Landmark and his story about campaign funding.
Next time: Follow the Money – where did the money for the three PAC’s come from?