There’s nearly $900,000 in the late Judy Baar Topinka’s political committee fund. But, moving forward, no one will be able to spend a penny of it without a court order.
That because a Cook County Circuit Court judge on Jan. 22 agreed to a request by Topinka’s son, Joseph Baar Topinka, for a temporary restraining order to put the political committee funds under the jurisdiction of the court.
According to the order, signed by Judge Anna Helen Demacopoulos, “no funds in the accounts of Citizens for Judy Baar Topinka shall be expended except for defense of the case by the fund, and with/or by agreement of counsel, court order or both.”
Joseph Baar Topinka, who is also the executor of his mother’s estate, filed suit in late December 2015 against the chairman of the political committee, the late state comptroller’s longtime chief of staff turned Springfield lobbyist Nancy Kimme, and the treasurer, Bradley Burnett.
Kimme became chairman of the political committee fund four days after her boss’ death in December 2014.
The lawsuit claims that, following Judy Baar Topinka’s death, Kimme converted funds in the political committee account for personal use. Joseph Baar Topinka has demanded those funds be returned and also that $341,618 of the fund balance be transferred to either him individually or to the estate, as allowed by state law.
Kimme has called the allegations against her “ridiculous.” A spokesman for Kimme in early January said Topinka was “looking to enrich himself” via the lawsuit. Topinka has said that the funds will go to the Judy Baar Topinka Charitable Foundation, created last year to “assist young women and men with a demonstrated interest in public affairs with leadership, training and education.”
“The issuance of a court order [Jan. 22] prohibiting expenditure of funds held by Citizens for Judy Baar Topinka Committee without a court order was a victory for Joseph Topinka and donors to the committee,” said Anthony Peraica, who is Joseph Baar Topinka’s attorney. “Improper and unauthorized use of the funds by Nancy Kimme will no longer be allowed.”
While the order will indeed prevent those funds from being spent, its impact doesn’t appear as if it will have a great effect on the way funds in the account have been handled since April 2015.
In the past 10 months, the fund has expended approximately $4,500 on things such as email and phone service, software and printing. In the final quarter of 2015, the fund expended $435.72.
As of Dec. 31, 2015 a total of $840,769 remained in the political committee fund.