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CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Mayor Richard M. Daley is responding angrily to allegations about his wife’s favorite charitable project.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, allegations surfaced last week that recipients of tax increment financing (TIF) grants from the city of Chicago under Daley were pressured to make donations to then First Lady Maggie Daley’s pet project, After School Matters.
The former Mayor calls those allegations “disgraceful.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports
Daley called the allegations a personal insult to his wife. He says no one was ever pressured to donate to After School Matters.
“My wife has been involved with After School Matters since 1989. No one – no one – talked to anyone,” Daley said Monday. “It’s a disgraceful thing they did, but you accept that in public life.”
The former mayor spoke before leading visitors on a walking tour of Millennium Park as part of Chicago Ideas Week, an appearance for which he said he was not being paid.
Last week, Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson issued a 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.