Updated 10/04/11 – 10:20 p.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM) — A report from the city’s inspector general has raised questions about whether former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration pressured companies that got city subsidies to donate money to former First Lady Maggie Daley’s favorite charity.
It’s all laid out in Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s report that examined charitable contributions made by businesses in exchange for tax increment financing from the city when Daley was mayor.
Ferguson said his investigation found that, during Daley’s time in office, corporations who wanted TIF subsidies for development projects were also required – under a little known ‘public benefits clause’ – to donate to charity. The charity that benefited most was After School Matters, the non-profit founded 20 years ago by Maggie Daley.
“It has the appearance of a quid pro quo,” Ferguson said. “That’s the concern, that there is certainly that appearance.”
Ferguson said that, from 2002 to 1009, there were 27 TIF subsidies in which the developers gave money to non-profits as part of the agreements.
In 16 of those cases, the donations went to After School Matters, the highly praised youth program founded 20 years ago by Maggie Daley. Ferguson said that other non-profits were never used more than once in a TIF agreement.
“When we asked how that came to be, nobody anywhere in the process could answer the question,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson did not accuse the Daley administration of strong-arming the businesses to give specifically to After School Matters, but said that the frequent selection of that program for contributions gives the appearance of preferential treatment. The report also notes a lack of transparency in the process and Ferguson said that also leaves open the question of whether anything criminal happened.
Ferguson stressed that the findings have nothing to do with Maggie Daley herself, or the integrity of After School Matters. It’s solely about the city’s way of doing business.
Mayor Daley didn’t comment, but in a statement, After School Matters officials said implications that donations were made under political pressure are “flat out false.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel declined direct comment, but noted he has formed a TIF reform commission.
“The charge for the TIF board was to reform TIFs – tax increment financing – so they were focused on economic and business and job creation and weren’t the instrument of politics or political favoritism.”
That panel has recommended strict standards for the TIF program.