A campaign finance disclosure filed last Friday with the Illinois Board of Elections reveals that a public relations company that receives lucrative contracts from Proviso High School District 209 contributed nearly $6,000 in services to Dist. 209 school board president Chris Welch’s campaign for state representative.
In January, the Forest Park Review revealed that Danielle Ashley Advertising, which also contributed generously to Welch’s 2005 campaign for board president, had been paid just under $150,000 by Dist. 209 in 2005, with bills in recent months reaching as high as $21,000. Danielle Ashley representatives are typically paid between $100 and $200 per hour for their services.
The district also employs a full time public relations director, Angela McDaniel, who is paid between $60,000 and $70,000, according to Chief Education Officer Robert Libka.
Other districts in the area surveyed by the Review pay between $50,000 and $80,000 to their in house public relations officer, though none said they employ an outside firm.
Asked in January if Danielle Ashley would be contributing to Welch’s state rep campaign, Vice President Paul Davis did not directly answer, but said that “whatever activity we might do, it’s legal.” He also dismissed allegations that the firm’s continued employment at Dist. 209 had to do with its past campaign contributions.
Welch has also vehemently denied this and other allegations of kickbacks in exchange for campaign donations.
The contribution disclosed on March 17 was an in-kind contribution, described as “marketing,” in the amount of $5,600.
Though the Welch campaign has put out nine mailers over the course of the last several months, Danielle Ashley had not disclosed any contributions to the campaign until Friday. The company gave an in kind contribution of $6,417.64 to Welch’s New Students First Party in February, 2005.
A Chicago based company called J&B Signs also gave Welch’s campaign a $5,500 in kind contribution, also described as “marketing.”
Also disclosed last week was a $1,500 contribution from Zpd+a, the company employed as project manager for the construction and ongoing finishing touches on the new Proviso Math and Science Academy at 1st Avenue and Roosevelt Road in Forest Park. The company had previously contributed $3,000 to the campaign.
Welch is running against Karen Yarbrough for 7th District state rep in this week’s primary election.
Neither Welch nor Davis returned calls seeking comment Monday. Welch recently told the Review that, if elected state rep, he would support legislation banning campaign contributions from vendors.