Campaign finance reports raise eyebrows

County clerk: Chris K. Johnson’s amendments to D-2 reports among most extensive he has seen

Winnebago County Clerk David Johnson (R) said he cannot recall a more extensive amendment to a candidate’s D-2 report than the one filed Aug. 31 by Winnebago County Board member Chris K. Johnson (R-4).

Chris K. Johnson’s original Semi-Annual D-2, filed July 31, reported neither a single contribution nor expenditure. However, his amended report, filed Aug. 31, showed $3,478.35 in expenditures and $2,399 in contributions.

Political committees in Illinois that receive in excess of $3,000 a year must file Semi-Annual D-2 reports twice per year to the state and their respective counties. The reports detail the financial transactions of the political committee during that particular period.

Asked why these transactions had not been listed on his July report, Chris K. Johnson said, “We had trouble with this file transfer protocol, and we didn’t realize that what was going through turned out to be zeros.”

In addition to the Semi-Annual D-2s, every candidate is required to file a Pre-Election D-2, itemizing the period’s transactions up to days before the election. Chris K. Johnson’s original Pre-Election D-2, filed March 8, reflected all the same zeros as the original July 31 Semi-Annual Report.

In past periods, Chris K. Johnson, who serves as Winnebago County Zoning Committee chairman, properly re-reported Pre-Election contributions to his Semi-Annual Report. His County Board term ends in December.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli said with regard to any possible review of the matter: “Primary jurisdiction on this type of matter rests with the State Board of Elections. They determine if a violation exists, and then impose appropriate deadlines and financial penalties.”

The State Board of Elections’ stance on campaign disclosure is as follows: “Willful failure to file or willful filing of false or incomplete information, required by the Illinois Campaign Disclosure Act is a business offense subject to a fine of up to $5,000.”

Tony Morgando, assistant director of Campaign Disclosure for the State Board, said candidates are typically given an opportunity to amend their D-2s before any fine is administered. Morgando confirmed that his office had contacted Johnson just prior to the Aug. 31 amendments being filed—after The Rock River Times had interviewed Morgando concerning Chris K. Johnson’s original D-2s filed in July.

Since electronic filing is only available for state reports, The Rock River Times asked Chris K. Johnson to explain why his county D-2 had the same zeros he’d alleged were the result of FTP failure. He said: “You print one off and hand it in. … I dropped it off, but I didn’t review it or sign it or anything.”

“I went to the computer and looked my D-2 up, and saw the one that was filed electronically, electronically filed on time, was all zeros,” Chris K. Johnson said. “I went back and got the bank statements and the list of contributors, and tried to put together the D-2.”

Amended Semi-Annual D-2 report

Chris K. Johnson’s Aug. 31 amended Semi-Annual D-2 report shows a $1,372.80 expense for an insert in the local daily, which is in line with current quotes for a single run to District 4 ZIP codes. When asked how many were purchased, however, Chris K. Johnson recalled, “I think it might have ran [sic] twice.”

The amended report also shows a rental fee for Aldeen Café, the purchase of magnetic door hangers, a mailer and a $283.90 expenditure to the Rockford Area Chamber, for which no purpose is stated.

Chris K. Johnson mentioned he was able to reuse many old yard signs, but indicated he had purchased new ones.

When asked how many, Chris K. Johnson estimated: “If we had to get some more? 100? I mean, not a lot.”

There is no reference to yard signs in his reported expenditures.

Chris K. Johnson said he’d sent between 100 and 200 fund solicitation letters, and between 100 and 150 invitations for his March 7 fund-raiser.

Asked why no contributions had been reported for the day of the event, Chris K. Johnson explained: “I think we listed it the day we put it in the bank. I recreated this by the date of deposit.”

Totalling $500, two contributions dated after March 7 are reported.

Chris K. Johnson’s amended D-2 reflects a single mailer expense of $1,145.45. He could not recall the number of bulk mail color oversized postcards, but explained the mailer was based on a voter list.

According to the clerk, there are 15,883 registered voters in District 4.

Chris K. Johnson’s bid for re-election was lost to Dave Fiduccia in the March Primary by 45 votes.

Chris K. Johnson said: “Nobody wrote any stories about what my opponent spent. … Nobody knows it. It’s never been filed. … It’s pretty good that you can do the mailings and do the handouts and do the yard signs like I did and get it done for less.”

Fiduccia, a police officer of nearly 30 years, confirmed his winning campaign against Chris K. Johnson cost $1,800. Since only campaigns that spend or receive in excess of $3,000 in a year are required to have an official committee, Fiduccia was not required to file D-2s.

Fiduccia does not have an opponent in the November General Election.

William Charles, Ltd., contribution

Similar to the Semi-Annual D-2, the original Pre-Election D-2, filed March 8, also showed zero contributions and expenditures. The amended Pre-Election D-2, filed with the state on Election Day, March 21, showed a $250 contribution from developer and blacktop company William Charles, Ltd., which was received Jan. 24.

However, the $250 from William Charles, Ltd., was still absent from the amended Semi-Annual D-2 filed Aug. 31.

When asked about the missing contribution, Chris K. Johnson said he thought that since he’d reported it on his Pre-Election D-2, it would automatically become part of his Semi-Annual D-2 without having to document it on both reports. “I thought it would have came [sic] up together,” he said.

The state’s campaign disclosure guide stipulates that a Semi-Annual report must include any contributions or expenditures reported on the Pre-Election report for the same period.

In regard to the disclosure guide given to all candidates, Winnebago County Clerk David Johnson indicated: “It’s quite specific as far as what you should do. …You get money in over $150, you’re gonna report it. You’re gonna have expenditures. You report those. … In the long run, it’s not overly complicated, but it is a requirement by law.”

David Johnson added that the clerk is merely a “keeper of the records” and that it’s ultimately the responsibility of a campaign to file accurate information in a timely manner.

Candidates may ask for help when completing these forms. While it’s not the task of the clerk’s office to make sure the forms are accurately completed, they are eager to assist in answering any questions a committee may have.

“We’re more than happy to try and help anybody fill out their D-2,” Winnebago County Election Supervisor Margie Mullins explained. “If we’re not sure of something, we certainly will be happy to give them the 800-number to call, for the State Board, to find out what the correct answer would be.”

Mullins is running against Republican Tony Savaiano to take over as clerk when David Johnson retires at the end of this year.

Chris K. Johnson’s wife, Judy Johnson, serves as treasurer for the Committee to Elect Chris K. Johnson. Her name can be found at the bottom of most D-2s in the campaign file. Judy’s name is nowhere to be found on Chris K. Johnson’s county reports for 2003 and 2004, however.

In 2001, Chris K. Johnson was a trustee on the Rock Valley College Board, which voted to purchase a nearly $300,000 home adjacent to the campus. Judy was the listing and selling agent, for which she collected commissions.

Although the campaign reported to the state semi-annually for 2003 and 2004, only one report (improperly covering 12-month stretches) was submitted to the

clerk for each year. Those reports weren’t filed until Feb. 8, 2006. Johnson blamed the clerk’s office for the filing lapse.

Chris K. Johnson said: “The county said I didn’t file. I filed with the state. Well, the state doesn’t electronically notify the county because the county isn’t capable.”

Petition signing questioned

Chris K. Johnson was nearly knocked off the March ballot when Rockford Township resident Karen Nelson alleged he’d improperly signed petitions that he hadn’t personally circulated. A candidate or campaign worker may only put his or her name next to the signatures he or she witnessed.

David Johnson had signed the petition, but acknowledged to the Electoral Board that Chris hadn’t been present at the time. The name of the campaign worker who circulated the petitions in question was scratched out and replaced with Chris’ name. Many in Winnebago County would agree that people have been knocked off the ballot for less, but the Electoral Board chalked this up to “sloppiness,” and Chris K. Johnson was spared a write-in campaign.

The issue was highly publicized by WROK host Tom Seymour, a three-term former board member, who just began his new job as manager of Government Affairs for the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.

Chris K. Johnson said of Seymour: “He spent more than 15 months bashing me and bashing my paperwork. … Nobody bothered to ever care about the work you do, or the votes you cast, or the speeches you make, or the attempt to change and put together policy.”

Seymour responded: “We covered petitions and financial disclosure reports for all County Board members on my show. No one was singled out for special attention.”

To learn more about campaign disclosure, or to check up on your local leaders, visit

From the Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2006, issue

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