My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

More shadiness and wastes of money in 2010 Census advertising campaign (this time by the City of Chicago)

Update: After speaking with the Census Bureau’s public information office, I want to clarify that this is not federal money but Chicago’s money that has allegedly been spent improperly.

I’m not sure how I missed this piece from the Huffington Post when it originally came out on 5/19, but I am now investigating the claims laid out here:

The cronyism, corruption and shady contracts continue to emanate from the Todd Stroger administration, as a new and yet all-too-familiar scandal involving US Census contracts is emerging Wednesday.

With a few hundred thousand dollars of federal grants left to publicize the census, Stroger’s spokesman Eugene Mullins told the Chicago Tribune that he and deputy chief of staff Carla Oglesby awarded contracts to eight publicity firms to spread the word. So far, so good.

But all of the firms — like Oglesby’s own PR firm, which is now under investigation — were awarded contracts of $24,995, five dollars less than the amount that would require County Board approval.

And, of course, as a little digging from FOX Chicago revealed, it gets worse. (Scroll down for video of the FOX investigation.)

Nearly all of the companies receiving contracts were incorporated just days before the contracts were issued.

One business was run by a convicted felon, and listed a vacant lot as its business address. One business appears to be a modeling agency. Two of the contractors submitted nearly identical invoices, and gave the same unlisted phone number.

The contracts were all paid up-front, before any services were rendered.
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And, the Tribune writes, “leaders of the Cook County Complete Count Committee, appointed by Stroger to conduct census outreach, said they were unaware of the contracts.”

How did Mullins respond?

When asked about the contracts on camera by FOX, Mullins was silent. Anchor Jeff Goldblatt said on air that “he called me late tonight, a profanity-laced phone call” in which he “basically threatened to sue” for “defamation of character.”

Mullins gave an on-the-record quote to the Tribune: “Either we can spend the money the best we can or it goes back to Washington,” Mullins said.

Both Mullins and Oglesby, who signed off on all the census contracts, are themselves involved in other Stroger administration scandals.

After Stroger’s defeat in the February primary, the lame-ducked Cook County Board President gave Mullins a $10,300 raise — despite a pay freeze that had been on the books for months.

And Oglesby is only recently back at work after a five-day suspension for steering a similar $24,995 contract to her privately-owned public relations firm, CGC Communications.

According to Finance Committee chairman John Daley, “All of this is under review by the inspector general.”

Here’s the video from Fox:

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8 Responses to “More shadiness and wastes of money in 2010 Census advertising campaign (this time by the City of Chicago)”

  1. anonymous Says:

    I’m not surprised ….

  2. anonymous Says:

    “I am now investigating the claims laid out here”

    picking up the phone and knocking on doors?

  3. end the census Says:

    End the census. End the waste, end the fraud, end the corruption.

  4. Malkia McLeod Says:

    Mr. Morse, during the course of your investigation, please reread the news article. Afterward, we request that you please change your headline.

    This is a news story about Cook County. It is about decisions made by Cook County officials over the use of Cook County funds. Not a single penny or single aspect has anything to do with the U.S. Census Bureau or the advertising campaign.

    Malkia D. McLeod
    U.S. Census Bureau
    Public Information Office

  5. end the census Says:

    One question continues to nag — why, WHY would anybody, any organization or entity, spend such enormous sums of money, BILLIONS of dollars on the census? Nobody spends that kind of money unless they expect to make even MORE money in return. The census bureau is making a profit on this. They can’t lose, because they’ve got the winning hand — the legal right to threaten American citizens with “fines, imprisonment, or both”.

  6. My Two Census » Blog Archive » MyTwoCensus Editorial: Current Census Bureau official involved in Blagojevich scandal must go…immediately! Says:

    [...] undermines the credibility of Census Bureau operations in Chicago. In a city with corruption linked to 2010 Census advertising, the public should not have to worry that upper management positions are being filled by [...]

  7. Blago Accomplice Running Chicago Census bureau Office « SHAWSBLOG Says:

    [...] undermines the credibility of Census Bureau operations in Chicago. In a city with corruptionlinked to 2010 Census advertising, the public should not have to worry that upper management positions are being filled by [...]

  8. Richard Laskey Says:

    Stroger’s Chief fionancial officer; Chief of Staff; Comptroller and Purchasing Director are the only one’s who can approve contracts. NOT ONE FEDERAL DOLLAR WAS USED WITH THESE CONTRACTS!!!!! PRESIDENT STROGER CAN USE HIS PROFESSIONAL FUNDS ACCOUNTS FOR ANYTHING HE WANT TO DO WITH IT!!

    LIKE MAYOR DALEY HAS A 1,000,000 THRESSHOLD LIKE CLOSING DOWN MEGS FIELD!

    THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!! DONT RELY ON THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE AND THE SUN-TIMES TO LIE TO YOU ABOUT A PERSON (TODD) THEY DO NOT LIKE.

    THE TRIBUNE AND THE SUNTIMES DID NOT TELL YOU THAT CHICAGO RICHARD DALEY GAVE HIS WIFE 20 MILLION DOLLARS FOR AN AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM THAT DOES NOT WORK — OR THAT MAYOR DALEY’S NEPHEW ROBERT VERNACKO ( WHO LOST POLICE AND FIRE PENSION FUNDS IN A SCAM THAT YOU NEVER MENTIONED) WAS THE SITTING ATTORNEY DURING LALAPOLOOZA FOR ALCHOHOL SALES AND THE LAWYER FOR THE PERFORMING ACTS.

    MULLINS DID NOT GET A RAISE——

    TODDS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER GOT A 54,000 RAISE AND YOU DONT EVEN MENTION IT.