Friends, family give back to Welch with cash, campaigning
Updated: March 29, 2012 4:02PM
Thirteen friends and family members are giving back to Emanuel “Chris” Welch by contributing to his campaign funds, directly campaigning or circulating petitions for his bid for state representative.
The political contributors all work for Proviso High School District 209 where Welch, as school board president, helped them get jobs or promotions, sources told Forest Leaves.
Ten — Ron “R.C.” Anderson, Angelo Calcagno, Tommie Miller, Carla Johnson, Terrase Craig, Brandon Gale, Daphene Walker, Billy Welch, Cynthia Daniels and Denise Daniels — of Welch’s friends and relatives at District 209 circulated petitions for his 7th District state representative candidacy.
Daphene Walker also notarized some of the petitions, as did Althea Busby, executive assistant to District 209 Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart.
District 209 board members have also helped the cause. Board member Francine Harrell, who has been paid $1,155 by Welch’s campaign thus far for “services rendered” was also out getting Welch signatures.
None of the employees responded to phone calls or an e-mail from the Forest Leaves. Welch also refused to be interviewed.
“It’s clearly a conflict-of-interest, particularly because they are involved in supporting the school board president as a candidate,” said Dick Simpson, head of the politics department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He recently penned a report on political corruption in Chicago.
In December, FOX Chicago News filmed Anderson, Carla Johnson, and her brother Corey Johnson, another District 209 worker, at the Cook County Clerk’s Office in Chicago checking the ballot petition signatures of Welch’s 7th District opponents.
Welch, who was videotaped delivering the employees lunch from his car, later claimed all of the District 209 employees had taken the day off to check the signatures.
Welch has acknowledged that both Corey and Carla Johnson are his “close personal friends.” Carla Johnson, a District 209 secretary, makes $47,659 yearly, and her brother Corey Johnson, a custodian at Proviso Math & Science Academy, earns $45,408 each year.
“The fact of the matter is that very few people make contributions to candidates or circulate [ballot petitions] for people. That’s a remarkably high correlation,” said David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a Chicago-based political watchdog group.
“Ostensibly speaking, that does not appear to be random,” Morrison added, referring to the 13 employees who have supported Welch politically.
Meanwhile, Welch’s campaign funds — The People for Emanuel “Chris” Welch and The New Students First Party — have received $7,250 from four of the employees.
As of Dec. 31, the last filing period, The People for Emanuel “Chris” Welch had $62,426 available. Since then, the committee has received $49,950 in direct contributions and donated items, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
New Students First had no money in its coffers as of the Dec. 31 deadline. That’s because the entire $19,731 it had on hand between July 1 and Sept. 30 of 2011 was transferred to The People for Emanuel “Chris” Welch.
New Students First also owes Welch $20,967 from personal loans he gave the committee between 2005 and 2009.
Billy Welch, Chris’ brother, gave him $6,000 between September 2011 and January 2012. He is a custodian and makes $56,760.
Angelo Calcagno, who makes $106,290 as building manager at Proviso West, gave a combined $550 from 2009 to 2011.
Fred Gianneschi, a building manager at Proviso East in Maywood who also earns $106,290, gave a $200 contribution last year.
Brian Carey, a District 209 attorney, gave Welch $500.
And there’s also DelGaldo Law Group, LLC. The Berwyn firm earned $307,518 doing legal work for District 209, according to District 209’s 2011 statement of affairs. The law group gave Welch’s committees a combined $2,676 last year in direct and in-kind contributions.
District 209 spokeswoman TaQuoya Kennedy’s Chicago public relations firm TMK & Associates contributed a combined $550 to Welch’s campaign committees last year. The firm is paid $60,000 annually to do PR work for District 209.