DeKALB – At the end of last year, the nonpartisan Barb City Action Committee of DeKalb reported to the Illinois Board of Elections that it had collected nearly $20,000 to support the campaigns of seven local city and school board candidates.
However, committee chairwoman Christie Krupp said that barring a contribution of less than $150 toward one candidate, the committee has not financially supported any of the people it is backing for April’s consolidated election.
Krupp said this might be because of the response of some residents who have harangued the acceptance of contributions from a political action committee.
“The purpose was to support the candidate’s campaign efforts, but because of what I would characterize as hyperbolic negative insinuations that have been made regarding this political action committee, people have avoided taking money,” Krupp said. “When someone will turn this around as a truly negative thing to accept contributions, it’s not worth it for the candidates to lose an election based on these negative insinuations.”
Krupp added that although the Barb City Action Committee might be the first legally formed PAC from DeKalb she knows of, nonregulated PACs come in many forms and operate throughout DeKalb.
“Any other groups, teachers, city employees or churches organizing to support a candidate or cause with their efforts, voices, calling trees or money are really political action committees,” Krupp said.
Mayoral candidate Jerry Smith, who was one of the first candidates to receive the group’s backing, said that although this criticism might have been a small factor in why he didn’t ask for monetary contributions from the Barb City Action Committee, he informed the PAC early in his campaign that he might not need the financial support.
“I spoke to them early on after the endorsement that if I was successful in raising my own money, I wouldn’t have to accept their money,” Smith said.
He added that he has raised more than $23,000 toward his campaign, most of which came from more than 200 letters he sent to potential supporters.
The rest came from unsolicited donations.
In contrast, Mayor John Rey has raised about $16,000, which includes a personal loan of $5,000 toward his campaign.
Misty Haji-Sheikh did not immediately respond to a request for comment on her campaign contributions, but she has raised or spent at least $5,000, according to a D-1 Statement of Organization with the Illinois Board of Elections.
Michael Embrey also did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and no campaign documents were found on the election board’s website.
All campaign committees are required to report their first quarter contributions and expenditures by April 17, according to the Illinois Board of Elections website.
If the Barb City Action Committee stays intact until the next election cycle, Krupp said that the remaining funds simply would roll over.
But if the committee dies, he said, all of the funds would be donated to The Salvation Army.
“Most of the public realize that the funds are a benefit, but the goal is to support candidates that are strong, proven leaders, and that is the bottom line,” Krupp said. “I’m not begrudging our candidates at all, but it’s unfortunate funding has been construed the way it has.”
Sixth Ward candidate Mike Verbic, who received the PAC’s backing and now is running unopposed after his opponent, Michael “Max” Maxwell, dropped out, said he planned to raise his own money throughout his campaign.
“I appreciate the committee’s endorsement,” Verbic said. “But their goal was to recruit candidates for local offices that were proven leaders, and I applaud those efforts, but I would not ask them for financial help.”
Verbic said he managed to raise about $2,100 in individual contributions for his campaign.
The Barb City Action Committee also is backing 4th Ward Alderman candidate Patrick Fagan in his race against Mike Bauling and incumbent Alderman Bob Snow.
In the last week of the election, Krupp said the committee is pushing to send postcards, make signs and buy radio advertising to support its selected candidates.