Joe Berrios: “Forrest Claypool’s $300,000 sunshine”

(From the Berrios campaign)

 

How much does it cost to buy some sunshine? About $300,000 if you’re Forrest Claypool, who
has repeatedly said he wants to bring “sunshine” to the Cook County Assessor’s office if he
wins the Nov. 2nd General Election.

 Reports released Monday by the Illinois Board of Elections showed Claypool received two
contributions totaling $300,000 recently – one from Assessor James Houlihan, the other from
media mogul Fred Eychaner, who cut an insider deal with Claypool for a parking garage lease
that Chicagoans will be paying for 400 years.

 “Who wouldn’t have sunshine in their lives with friends like that,” asked Joe Berrios, the
Democratic candidate for assessor. “On one hand, we have Jim Houlihan, who is about to be
out of a job, and on the other, we have a very wealthy man who wants to keep getting sweet
deals and tax breaks from Claypool.”

 Two weeks ago, Claypool, a Cook County Board commissioner, voted against ethics reforms
which would have capped individual contributions at $10,000.
On Oct. 1, Houlihan, who is retiring, contributed $100,000 from his own coffer to the campaign of Forrest Claypool, a former Democratic seeking the same office. Eychaner gave Claypool $200,000 on Sept. 17. Houlihan receives money from property tax attorneys, a practice in which Claypool has used as his main criticism against Berrios.

 Houlihan has given Claypool over $130,000 in recent months, and held a fundraiser at his home for the former Democrat on October 12th.

 Claypool was behind one of the worst long-term parking garage leases in Chicago history.
Claypool was Mayor Richard Daley’s chief of staff at the time, and then became park district
chief.

 Claypool worked behind the scenes to broker Eychaner’s 400-year-lease with the Chicago Park
District
, headed by Claypool, back in the 1990s. Eychaner’s Ogden Plaza Garage Co. leases
land from the Chicago Park District for a lucrative parking garage in Streeterville. The lease,
which costs $10 annually, is good for 374 more years, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Since cutting that deal, Claypool has received over $625,000 from Eychaner, state filings show.
“If that isn’t insider back-scratching, I don’t know what is,” Berrios said. “But this is what
we’ve come to expect from Claypool and his donors. They are big property owners giving big
contributions in exchange for big tax breaks if he’s elected assessor. They are the rich people
who don’t want to pay their fair share.”