(MintPress) — An Illinois senator is facing allegations that he paid his girlfriend $143,000 in backdoor funding — a case that draws attention to the growing reputation of corruption in the Illinois political scene.
Kimberly Vertolli, the ex-wife of Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), pointing out that her husband used another company to pay his girlfriend, Dodie McCracken the six figure payment during his 2010 run for Senate.
Kirk holds the seat formerly held by now President Barack Obama — the same seat former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted and sentenced for attempting to sell.
The allegations made by Vertolli come during the trial of John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator and vice presidential candidate, who is facing up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $1.5 million for using $1 million in campaign donations to cover up an affair and child.
McCracken owns a public relations firm and has said she did receive the funding, which was payment for work done on the campaign trail, according to the Chicago Tribune. The issue, however, is why her name is not on Kirk’s federal disclosures — a discrepancy Vertolli is calling attention to.
Money paid to McCracken was done so through the Patterson Group, known as Kirk’s campaign contractor. Vertolli alleges this was done to hide the fact that money was being given to McCracken.
The Chicago Tribune cites a Washington lawyer who states that it is illegal for a politician to intentionally obscure evidence for campaign expenditures. That, however, is what will have to be proven for Vertolli’s complaint to stand.
Kirk suffered a stroke in January, complicating the issue even further. While he did not go on record with a statement regarding the complaint, his spokesperson has, pointing the finger back at Vertolli for creating drama after a failed marriage.
“While Sen. Kirk and Ms. Vertolli divorced amicably three years ago and she actively supported Mr. Kirk’s 2010 Senate campaign, Ms. Vertolli has since filed a groundless complaint consisting of bitter personal attacks and is attempting to involve a federal agency in a divorce settled 26 months ago,” Kirk’s campaign manager, Eric Elk, said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. “We are saddened that she decided to file this ill-advised complaint and abuse the FED process to air personal grievances.”
Vertolli herself campaigned for Kirk during the 2010 run, receiving $40,000 for her work — a payment she’s not denying, either. She is now, however, claiming the funding was hush money, intended to keep her quiet on the McCracken relationship, according to the Chicago Tribune. Vertolli claims the relationship with McCracken is what broke up her marriage with Kirk — they divorced in 2009 after remaining married for eight years.
The complaint is now in the hands of the FEC, which could either throw it out or launch an investigation.