Sen. Durbin’s Illinois Senate rivals Willie Wilson and Mark Curran have not filed financial disclosure reports

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With early voting underway in Illinois, self-funded Senate third-party candidate Willie Wilson still has not filed his financial disclosure report and neither has GOP nominee Mark Curran.

Wilson is a businessman who said he is wealthy enough to put $5 million of his own cash towards his Senate bid. He also ran for mayor in 2019 and 2015, and in those races he did not disclose any income on the City of Chicago statement of financial interest form candidates for city offices are required to file.

Wilson answered no to the question on the Chicago disclosure report asking, “In 2017, did you serve as an employee, officer, director, associate, partner or proprietor or in any advisory capacity for any professional, business or other organization (other than your City employment or appointment) from which you received or derived income of more than $1,000.00?”

When he ran in 2015, Wilson checked a similar no when asked that same question about his 2013 business activity.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., routinely files his Senate financial disclosures and takes the additional extra step — and this is rare — of voluntarily attaching to the disclosure report the federal income tax return he files jointly with his wife, Loretta.

When the three candidates met with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board on Friday, Sept. 18, Durbin said at the end that Curran and Wilson had not filed their Senate disclosures.

Durbin said at that endorsement session his opponents should “consider following and obeying the law themselves.” Durbin said the filings were due — and this includes deadline extensions granted — by Sept. 12.

Neither Curran nor Wilson jumped in to take issue with Durbin’s comments.

The Ethics in Government Act and Senate rules require senators and candidates to file public financial disclosure reports with the Secretary of the Senate.

WILSON’S RESPONSE

F. Scott Winslow, a spokesman for Wilson, told the Sun-Times in a text the Senate disclosure rules are “largely written to prevent use of government resources for campaign purposes, so it largely applies to elected officials.”

That is incorrect.

The point of the public disclosure report is to throw a spotlight on the assets, income and other financial details of senators, staffers and candidates. This information is often crucial when it comes to questions of conflicts of interest.

And regarding the issue of potential conflict: Wilson’s business activities would seem ripe for scrutiny since he labeled himself an “International businessman” when asked his occupation in the Chicago Sun-Times candidate questionnaire. Even as Illinoisans are voting, we don’t know — in something written down that is official — any details about Wilson’s finances.

Wilson has said he has a medical supply business and in response to the COVID-19 crisis, he has donated millions of disposal face masks in Illinois.

The Senate Select Committee on Ethics states the purpose of requiring personal financial disclosure on its website: “Public disclosure of a public official’s personal financial interest is often considered the key component to an effective code of conduct. …. full and complete disclosure” (is) the heart of the Code of Conduct.”

Winslow said in a text Wilson’s report will be filed by “the October 3rd deadline.”

The assertion that Oct. 3 is the deadline is a very generous reading of the rules. In any case, it shows the Wilson campaign did not want to comply with the disclosure requirements until what it deemed the last possible day.

Both Wilson and Curran signed a Statement of Candidacy declaration with the Federal Election Commission in August 2019. The Select Committee on Ethics disclosure instructions suggest Wilson and Curran should have filed their first disclosure by Dec. 15, 2019, since they became candidates in 2019.

CURRAN’S RESPONSE

Curran, in an interview with the Sun-Times, said he had been having major “technical difficulties” in filing his report with the Senate. He said Thursday he was trying to file.

As for not filing until October, Curran said, “I’m not blaming anybody else … I didn’t file it, I mean I didn’t know I had to file it. Nobody told me. I talked to a lot of people getting myself prepared for this race and … we didn’t know it was required.”

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October 1, 2020 at 08:20PM

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