You may recall that "Senate Candidate 1" was Barack Obama's choice: his friend, the ultra-qualified Valerie Jarrett. And "Senate Candidate 5" was Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., a man with a better sense of "fundraising" than Carolyn-esque entitlement. But who was "Senate Candidate 3"?
That would appear to be none other than Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL, what else?). An anonymous tipster pointed me to a fascinating post at Red County. It describes Schakowsky's
The Schakowsky family's troubling history with non-profits
• In 2006 Anne Leary reported that Schakowsky's husband -- Robert Creamer -- was sentenced to five months in prison and eleven months of house arrest for bank fraud and tax violations involving a non-profit called the "Illinois Public Action Council" (IPAC). The indictment charged Creamer with floating "check and wire transfer deposits between bank accounts to... hide their deficiencies... [and used] the inflated balances to pay expenses of his organization, as well as his own salary and discretionary expenses." Creamer resigned his longtime leadership positions after "the FBI questioned him about a $1 million overdraft... [he was also charged] with failing to pay more than $300,000 in federal income taxes for employees of the group and for himself between 1996 and 2000. Four other counts allege he filed false income tax returns between 1996 and 1999... Each count of bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1 million fine. Each count of failing to collect and pay withholding taxes carries a penalty of five years, and each count of filing a false tax return carries a penalty of 3 years."
Hubby's ties to other sleazy pols
• After IPAC folded, Creamer advised a wide variety of Democratic luminaries including staunch members of the community like Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Congressman Lane Evans, Chicago Alderman Joe Moore and others.
• By any measure, Schakowsky is one of the most liberal (if not the most liberal) members of Congress. She belonged to, for instance, the "Progressive Caucus," where she joined the likes of Cynthia McKinney, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich, Jim ("Baghdad Jim") McDermott, Bernie Sanders and Lynn Woolsey.
• Schakowsky served on the board of IPAC while her husband was committing various felonies. But we're betting she was completely unaware of her hubby's scams. Hubby was "swindling nine financial institutions of at least $2.3 million while he ran a public interest group in the 1990s." And Schakowsky "co-signed the fraudulent tax returns".
• After her husband's conviction, Schakowsky implied that her husband's prosecution was politically motivated: "Schakowsky referred to herself as one of the major critics of President Bush and Ashcroft and said: 'I do think the timing is somewhat curious.'"
Schakowsky's curious earmark: SALF
• Rep. Schakowsky authored a 2009 earmark for another Chicago-area nonprofit called The Save A Life Foundation (SALF), which is described on her website as a "Community Response Systems Initiative". What the... ?
• A 2006 ABC investigation revealed that while Save a Life received millions of dollars in government funds and corporate donations, it made a series of "misleading claims [including] deceptive credentials that raise doubts about [its] integrity, funding and training." According to ABC, founder Carol Spizzirri represented herself as a registered nurse specializing in kidney transplants. But ABC claims she never received a degree of any kind nor was she ever registered as a nurse.
The president of the National Council Against Health Fraud, a watchdog organization of medical professionals, says that federal and state funding agencies have been defrauded by Spizzirri's claims that she has a nursing degree and license... Save-A-Life charged [Chicago schools] $50,000 the past two years.
...Spizzirri pays herself an annual salary of $120,000, according to Save-A-Life records on file with the Illinois attorney general. She travels on a generous expense account while working to obtain additional government funding for expansion of her organization nationally.
ABC also reported that Spizzirri fabricated circumstances of her daughter's death when lobbying lawmakers.
• A subsequent ABC investigation in 2007 revealed more problematic activities linked to Save-a-Life and possible misuse of public funds. These include allegations by a temp worker that state funds were used to reproduce a copyrighted 600-page instruction manual that Save-a-Life would then edit and claim as its own.
• ABC also noted that the American Red Cross "recommends the opposite of what Save-a-Life teaches school children for emergency response."
• In light of the two ABC investigations, most public funding sources for Save-a-Life appeared to dry up.
That is, until Jan Schakowsky got involved.
• Schakowsky's committee roles include service as a "Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection and as a member of the Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations."
Shouldn't she be investigating SALF, not funding them?
• Red County asks the salient question: given her investigatory committee roles and her own problematic history with non-profits, "why is Rep. Schankowsky carrying an earmark for The Save A Life Foundation rather than investigating them?"
What is it with Illinois? Something in the water? In any event, pass the popcorn, Nahanni.
Update: Creamer, Schackowsky's husband, is routinely given a column of honor at Puff Ho, though -- for some reason -- his felony conviction is omitted from his bio.
Update II: Commenter LadyBo suggested I ask Rep. Schakowsky this question. Excellent idea! I sent the following message to her official email address (jan.schakowsky-at-mail.house.gov).
Dear Rep. Schakowsky,
I've read quite a bit of information that calls into question the leadership, mission and spending of the Save-a-Life Foundation (SALF), which is listed as one your '09 ARs.
For instance, ABC did an investigation in '06 ( http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news&id=4770490 ) and in '07 ( http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news&id=5354419 ).
Could you please describe:
(a) your rationale for this request; and
(b) any ties between SALF and yourself, your family members, staff, lobbyists or business partners?
Thank you. Have a wonderful and safe New Year.
I'll let you know what I hear.
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