CHICAGO (STMW) – “All of the liquor, none of the clothes!” the billboards promise. Take a drive across the south suburbs and you know: Strip clubs are big business.
But it’s not just nude girls and club owners making money. Thousands of those dollars bills have found their way into campaign coffers across Cook County.
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A SouthtownStar analysis has tracked where this money flows. For some politicians, the results were troubling.
A spokeswoman for County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said the campaign would return $2,000.
Northridge-based Allstars Gentlemen’s Club, which burned down in December 2010, donated the money to Preckwinkle for President earlier that year. Preckwinkle spokeswoman Jessey Neves said the contribution was made during a fundraiser that brought in just under $30,000 for a campaign that raised about $3.5 million.
According to Neves, Preckwinkle is going to return the money due to the “nature of the business.”
“We’re not financially dependent on that amount,” Neves said.
But others say donations are fair and legal — just like the clubs themselves.
Former Chicago Heights mayor and current State Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights) has received in his two political committees $2,000 from Jimmy’s Restaurant and Club 390 since 2005.
DeLuca is the chairman of Friends of State Rep. Anthony DeLuca and the Unity Party for Anthony DeLuca.
City chief of staff Matt Fares is the treasurer of those committees.
He didn’t see a problem with the strip club money.
“Whether someone is in the adult entertainment business or someone in the garbage business or someone in the printing business, there’s many people who contribute money who are involved in all types of business,” DeLuca said. “Just the fact that they are in the adult entertainment business, it doesn’t exclude them from being in the political process either.”
Not everyone agrees of course. The clubs, while attracting thousands of customers as legal businesses, often bring scrutiny from religious and community groups.
“I think politicians know that the center of strip clubs is very close to prostitution,” said Michael Murphy, University of Illinois-Springfield associate professor of women and gender studies. “If you had a degree from Harvard, you wouldn’t be shaking it. Neither would I.”
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