State rep settles fines with election board

Calvin Giles remains on the ballot despite other pending fines

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By TERRY DEAN

State Rep. Calvin Giles (D-8th) agreed to fork over $25,000 to Illinois state election authorities Jan. 9 in an effort to settle more than $144,000 in campaign fines racked up by the Chicago Democrat since 2000.

The State Board of Elections threatened to kick Giles off the March 21 primary ballot by late January if he didn't pay his fines, stemming from late filing of his campaign disclosure records.

Giles' 8th District includes North Riverside east of Desplaines Avenue and Riverside north of 31st Street and east of Desplaines Avenue.

No previous elected official has owed such an amount to the state. The Board of Elections approved the settlement Jan. 9. Giles has until Jan. 19, when ballots are certified, to pay the $25,275 settlement, which the board agreed to accept to cover penalties for late filing of his semi-annual and pre-election contribution disclosure reports.

The four-term Democrat, whose 8th legislative District includes North Riverside east of Desplaines Avenue and Riverside north of 31st Street and east of Desplaines Avenue, racked up around $80,000 worth in fines from 2000 to 2003. Due to a technicality in state law, the Board of Elections cannot use that amount to keep Giles off future election ballots. Giles was allowed to stay on the November 2004 ballot following a court order.

State elections officials said they might still go after Giles for the $80,000 amount. State officials did hit Giles with another $63,750 in fines after the 2004 election. The Jan. 9 settlement covers a portion of that amount.

He only has to pay 10 percent of the remainder connected with his unreported A-1 reports detailing campaign contributions. The state board allows first-time offenders to pay 10 percent. A state amnesty program allows office holders with excessive fines to settle a portion of them for as little as 10 cents on the dollar. Despite owing thousands of dollars for almost six years, Giles is considered a first-time offender.

The amount Giles paid is about one-third of the amount in his campaign war chest from a year ago.

Chicago businessman LaShawn Ford, who's challenging Giles in the March 21 Democratic Primary, filed an objection Jan. 6 with the State Board of Elections challenging Giles' ballot eligibility.

Ford, 33, said Giles' lingering fines made the state legislator unqualified to run. The objection is pending.

Giles, 43, is the nephew of former Chicago 37th Ward Ald. Percy Giles , who was convicted in 1999 of bribery, extortion and racketeering in the federal Operation Silver Shovel investigation into Chicago City Council corruption. Calvin Giles was not accused of any wrongdoing.

Calvin Giles is chairman of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. In January 2005, Giles lost his chairmanship of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to state Sen. James Meeks, an independent from Chicago's South Side.

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