By Shane Nicholson
The campaign committee for Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen spent over $2,000 with a company that is part of the ongoing FBI investigation into county expenses.
Christiansen and county Auditor William Crowley were subpoenaed in September as the FBI sought credit card statements and various county service contracts dating to Jan. 1, 2014, and invoices from Kelley Williamson Co. and World’s Finest Chocolate dating to 2010.
Former Purchasing Director Sally Claassen, placed on leave in August, resigned Sept. 11 amid the ongoing investigation first prompted by Sheriff Gary Caruana’s analysis of the 1 percent fund, meant to pay off jail construction and operational debts.
But documents obtained by the Times Wednesday show that Christiansen’s own re-election committee, Christiansen for Chairman, paid $2,378.20 to World’s Finest Chocolate during the last reporting cycle.
The gifts expenditure marked the committee’s third-largest expense in its most recent quarterly filings with the State Board of Elections, totaling nearly 10 percent of the committee’s outgoings from July 1 to Sept. 30. The payment was logged the first day of the reporting period.
Officials have indicated that the board was cooperating fully with the FBI’s investigation, though some have painted Claassen as a sole actor in the budget irregularities.
A source told the Times that the campaign’s expenditure with a business of interest in the investigation was explained by the chairman at a recent board meeting as his effort to clean up the mess left by others.
Two board members the Times talked to said that to their knowledge Claassen was not personally responsible for the county’s purchases from World’s Finest Chocolate. They said a closer look at the manner of the transactions is necessary as the board works to implement new purchasing procedures.
No arrests have been made as part of the FBI investigation.