Although they govern a relatively small village, Brookfield politicians are quite adept at raising money to fund political campaigns, but the two political parties go about fundraising quite differently.
An examination of each party’s D-2 campaign contribution records, obtained from the State Board of Elections, show that VIP, through its own party fund and a political committee called Friends of Bill Russ, has raised nearly $140,000 since the beginning of 2003, much of it from sources outside the village of Brookfield.
Meanwhile, PEP has raised $66,000 during that same time through its political party fund, relying heavily on small donations from its candidates and local political allies.
PEP’s largest individual contributors in the past two years are candidates Michael Garvey ($2,335) and Michael Towner ($2,565). But their largest contributor is the law firm of Robert F. Stringini, Garvey’s employer, which contributed $2,700 to the PEP war chest since the beginning of 2003.
PEP is also repaying a $30,000 loan from the law firm of Storino, Ramello and Durkin which dates from 2002 and represents legal costs the party incurred while fighting with the Village of Brookfield over a petition it circulated to derail a bond issue for street improvements.
Other top contributors to PEP in the last two years include C.P. Hall ($1,912), the party’s treasurer; Barbara Bryk ($1,390), a former village employee; Catherine Colgrass Edwards ($1,135); PEP candidate for village trustee; Kit Ketchmark ($1,835), PEP candidate for trustee; William Taylor/Kustom Towing ($1,350), a local businessman who has been involved in a legal battle with Russ since the beginning of 2004; and Richard Billik ($1,000), a Circuit Court judge who lives in Brookfield.
PEP also received a $200 contribution from Illinois State Treasurer Judy Bar Topinka and a $500 contribution from Cook County Commissioner Anthony Peraica within the past two years.
Meanwhile, during the same time, the VIP Party alone raked in over $97,000, with 10 percent of that total?”nearly $12,000?”coming as donations and in-kind contributions from the law firm of Odelson & Sterk and its employees. Odelson & Sterk is the law firm for the Village of Brookfield.
Odelson & Sterk and attorney Burt Odelson himself contributed another $1,600 to the Friends of Bill Russ during 2003-04. Unions also contributed heavily to the VIP and Russ war chests during 2003-04, donating just over $9,200.
The SEIU union, which represents village employees, contributed nearly $2,250 to the VIP Party and another $2,750 to the Friends of Bill Russ. Other prominent union contributors include IBEW Local 134, which donated $1,200 to VIP and $300 to Friends of Bill Russ, and the Sheetmetal Workers union organizations, which donated another $1,230 and $600 to the respective war chests.
VIP and the Friends of Bill Russ also took in nearly $10,000 in 20 transfers from various political organizations, both Democratic and Republican from all over the Chicago area.
The most prominent political contributor has been Michael Woodward, Berwyn city clerk and mayoral candidate on April 5.
Russ hired Woodward to be Brookfield’s blight adjudicator in the late summer of 2003. Since June of 2003, Woodward has contributed $3,500 to the VIP Party and another $1,125 to the Friends of Bill Russ through personal contributions and transfers from his own political fund.
The Berwyn Regular Democratic Organization, of which Woodward is a member, chipped in $210 during 2004 to VIP’s campaign fund.
VIP and Friends of Bill Russ during the last two years has received many smaller contributions from area political figures as diverse as former Democratic Congressman William Lipinski ($900), Democratic State House Leader Michael Madigan ($1,650), Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush ($1,000), Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore ($300), State Rep. Robert Molaro ($520), State Sen. Dan Cronin ($200), Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico ($175), Circuit Court Judge William Kunkle ($180) and South Chicago Heights Mayor Dave Owen ($160), who is also the Brookfield village manager.
Meanwhile, VIP regulars have contributed lightly to the party fund during the past two years. Russ is the top contributor to the VIP cause at $2,500, but gave his last recorded donation in January of 2003.
Alan Dorobiala and Wil Brennan are the next highest contributors at $1,780 and $1,340 respectively. Village trustee candidate Mitch Mierop has donated $1,200 to VIP, while clerk candidate Jeane Eineman has given $1,000.
Village Trustee Linda Stevanovich contributed $1,100, but no contributions are listed in the party’s records since March of 2003, just prior to her reelection. VIP’s president and current village trustee candidate Thomas Nowicki does not show up as a contributor since January of 2003.