Election

Why did some congressional candidates skip filing mandatory financial disclosure reports?

Sunlight shines on the U.S. Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Only about half the non-incumbent congressional candidates in the north, west or northwest suburbs have filed financial disclosure reports with the U.S. House that were due in May, records show.

Some of those who didn’t, including 14th District Republican Jaime Milton of Fox River Grove, said they haven’t reached the $5,000 fundraising threshold at which filing is mandatory.

A few, such as 6th District Republicans Gary Grasso of Burr Ridge and Rob Cruz of Oak Lawn, missed the deadline but said they intend to file.

Others, such as 3rd District Democrat Juan Aguirre of Chicago, didn’t respond to interview requests.

Late-filing penalties start at $200, according to the House Ethics Committee’s instruction guide. Failing to file can trigger fines of up to $66,190 and up to one year in prison.

Why they’re needed

The disclosure reports are transparency tools designed to reveal potential conflicts of interest.

They detail information about the source, type and amount of a filer’s income, personal investments, spousal income, gifts, contracts and money from other sources. Debts must be reported, too.

Members of the House and Senate, candidates and some congressional employees must file reports by May 15 each year. Extensions are common.

Congressional reports can be found online at disclosures-clerk.house.gov/PublicDisclosure/FinancialDisclosure.

The House clerk has up to 30 days to make the documents public. Traditionally, non-incumbents’ reports are posted as they’re put into the system, while members’ reports are posted 30 days after the deadline or later if an extension is granted, the clerk’s office said.

Wednesday is the 30-day mark. Four suburban incumbents -- Marie Newman in the 3rd District, Sean Casten in the 6th District, Raja Krishnamoorthi in the 8th and Brad Schneider in the 10th -- have extensions until August.

Who filed?

As of Monday, disclosure reports for 2022 were available for 18 of the 33 non-incumbent candidates running in the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 14th congressional districts.

In the 3rd, Chicago Democrats Iymen ChehadeDelia Ramirez and Gilbert Villegas and Winfield Republican Justin Burau turned them in.

Of note, Chehade reported receiving $34,000 so far this year as a campaign staffer for Newman. His contract with Newman -- who now is running in the 6th -- has been a source of controversy since Chehade sued her and said she tried to discourage him from running against her in 2020 by promising him a job. The Office of Congressional Ethics concluded Newman may have violated federal law; the House Ethics Committee is investigating.

Ramirez reported receiving $89,461 for her service as a state representative this year. Villegas reported stock holdings and a $116,000 aldermanic salary. Burau reported no assets.

In the 6th District, reports are in for Republicans Niki ConfortiScott Kaspar and Keith Pekau.

Conforti, of Glen Ellyn, reported owing between $100,001 and $250,000 in student loans; Pekau, of Orland Park, reported his mayoral salary, stock and mutual fund investments, and other income; Kaspar, also of Orland Park, reported stock in Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Tesla and the Walt Disney Co.

“I invest in companies that I believe to be technological innovators,” Kaspar said. “Personal politics is not a factor.”

In the 8th, Democrat Junaid Ahmed of South Barrington and Republicans Chris Dargis of Palatine and Peter Kopsaftis of South Barrington filed. Standing out from his peers, Kopsaftis reported no assets and debts that included a student loan and a federal small business loan.

In the 11th, Republicans Mark Carroll of North AuroraJerry Evans of WarrenvilleSusan Hathaway-Altman of the Geneva area, Catalina Lauf of Woodstock and Cassandra Tanner Miller of Elgin filed reports.

Carroll reported owing between $50,001 and $100,000 in businesses taxes to the IRS. He said the debt stems from his former law practice.

Evans listed the eponymous music school he owns as an asset worth between $500,001 and $1 million, while Hathaway-Altman reported investment property and mutual funds among her assets.

Lauf reported receiving a $5,000 book advance from publisher Post Hill Press. The book will address the nation’s political divide “and what millennials need to remember about our history,” Lauf said.

In the 14th District, Republicans Scott Gryder of OswegoMike Koolidge of Rochelle and James Marter of Oswego filed reports.

Gryder reported owning stocks including the Ford Motor Co., Meta, Portillo’s, the Walt Disney Co. and Tesla. Koolidge reported having money in a pair of cryptocurrency accounts.

Marter listed a coin collection among his assets.

“One of the most interesting (coins) is a $20 gold piece ... from a sunken ship recovered off the East Coast,” Marter said.

Everyone else

Reports weren’t available for 15 candidates.

Aguirre was the only 3rd District candidate who didn’t file.

In the 5th, Republicans Malgorzata McGonigal of North Barrington and Tommy Hanson of Chicago showed no reports. Hanson said he hasn’t hit the $5,000 threshold; McGonigal said she thought her team sent one.

In the 6th District, 2022 reports weren’t available from Grasso, Cruz, Republican Catherine A. O’Shea of Oak Lawn and Democrat Charles Hughes of Chicago. O’Shea and Hughes said they haven’t hit the threshold.

In the 8th District, reports weren’t available for Republicans Karen Kolodziej of Itasca, Chad Koppie of Gilberts or Phil Wood of Carol Stream. Koppie said he hasn’t hit the $5,000 threshold; the other two couldn’t be reached for comment.

Reports also weren’t available for 9th District Republican Max Rice of Northbrook, 10th District Republican Joe Severino of Lake Forest or 11th District Republican Andrea Heeg of the Geneva area. Rice confirmed he didn’t file; Heeg said she didn’t reach the threshold; Severino wouldn’t answer questions.

In the 14th District, Milton and fellow Republican Jack Lombardi of Manhattan didn’t file. Lombardi said he asked for an extension, but as of Monday the clerk’s website had no record of such a request.