Union Gives Tainted Illinois Official Cash

Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 “passed the hat” for scandal-plagued Miriam Santos and plans to hold a fundraiser to help the ex-city treasurer pay her existing and future legal bills, union president Bill Kugelman announced Feb. 17. Santos was convicted of mail fraud and attempted extortion in May 1999 for shaking down brokers and bankers who do business with her office and blacklisting seven firms that refused to make a $10,000 contribution to the Illinois Democratic Party.  Kugelman said, “[W]hat happened to her was wrong. We all think she was railroaded. It cost her a bundle. She’s thousands of dollars in debt. We’re trying to help her out.”

Santos was released from federal prison in Jan. 19 after a federal appeals court reversed her corruption conviction and ordered a retrial, citing errors by the trial court judge. She plans to return to her $118,650-a-year job with back pay and pension benefits as soon as the law allows.

Santos was hailed as a conquering hero during a closed-door union meeting. Not only did firefighters pass the hat for the former treasurer, they gave her a Local 2 sweat shirt with her name on it. It’s unknown how much money was raised. The meeting was held hours after Kugelman returned from Las Vegas, where firefighters celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the 1980 firefighters strike. [Chi. Sun-Times 2/22/00]

“I bring an agenda of reform, and a record of results. I want to increase citizen participation, return honor to our system and restore confidence in our democracy. In all instances, it should be individuals, not corporate directors or union bosses, who control the political process, because individuals are the backbone of democracy.”

– Tex. Gov. George W. Bush (R) (emphasis added) [Ft. Worth Star-Tel. 2/20/00]