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Stephen Hagerty is listed as one of the top contributors to an Evanston political group that has sparked controversy in its mailings promoting candidates in Evanston municipal election.
The group, Evanston Together LLC, forwarded its D-2 disclosure report to the RoundTable after 11 p.m. on April 1, meeting a pledge to release the donors list at the start of the quarterly reporting system. The accompanying note said the D-2 had not yet been filed. The report was signed by its treasurer, Dick Peach.
Mayor Hagerty, naming Hagerty Consulting as his employer on the form, is listed as giving $5,000 to the group.
Independent of the group, Mr. Hagerty made contributions totaling $5,000 to three aldermanic candidates in January and February.
Hoda Halim, listed as an attorney and Wilmette resident, also gave $5,000 to Evanston Together, which is reporting overall contributions of $13,300 on the State Board of Elections form.
Other contributors listed were Michael Davis ($1,000), Paul Brown ($500), Kent Swanson ($500), Kathy Tisdahl ($500), Zak Kustok ($250), and Nicole Kustok ($250). With the mailings, the group has supported five candidates for alderman.
There are contested aldermanic races in eight of the City’s nine wards. Ninth Ward Alderman Cicely Fleming is running unopposed.
A story about the mailers can be found here.
Earlier in the week, Mayor-elect Daniel Biss issued a statement highly critical of the group’s tactics, noting their initial filings with the State Board of Elections gave almost no information, “suggesting that they are either violating campaign finance laws, or more likely in my opinion, craftily timing their fundraising and spending to avoid discussing anything until it’s too late to matter for the election.”
The group also sent out a statement, supporting its “sharing our perspective with voters,” as “no different than a litany of other groups in Evanston.”
The statement carried the names of Marya Frankel, the group’s chair; Mr. Peach, its treasurer; Kent Swanson; Paul Brown; and Mike Davis. The group added that it is a State PAC and would publicly disclose both contributions and expenditures on the first day of the reporting period.
After this story was published on April 2, Mayor Hagerty sent a statement to the RoundTable that read in part, “I would invite you to look into why nine of the ten cities recognized in 2019 with the coveted National Civic League’s “All-America City” award were Council-Manager forms of government. There’s a reason Evanston is a finalist this year; the Council-Manager form of government works effectively.”
Ms. Frankel and Mr. Peach of Evanston Together LLC are members of the Advisory Committee of Evanston RoundTable Media NFP. As such, they are not members of the Board of Directors. The RoundTable has 40 members on its Advisory Committee, most of whom have been active in the community for many years. Advisory Committee members have a First Amendment right to endorse candidates in their personal capacity, but in so doing they are not speaking for the RoundTable, and Mr. Peach and Ms. Frankl have not purported to do so. Moreover, the RoundTable had no part in preparing any documents or mailers disseminated by Evanston Together.
The RoundTable does not endorse candidates for political offices.