Company founded by political insiders received over $22 million from Illinois in vendor late fees
The state of Illinois has paid $611 million in late fees to vendors. Political insiders who have donated to some of the state’s most powerful elected officials are reaping the benefits.
Illinois’ dismal financial condition is bad news for the state’s residents and taxpayers, but a lucky few political insiders are benefiting from the mess. A company started by Democratic insiders Brian Hynes and Patti Solis Doyle has taken in over $22 million in late fees under a program designed to help vendors that deal with the state of Illinois receive payment of their overdue bills, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Illinois now has nearly $6.5 billion in unpaid bills from social-service providers, technology advisers and health insurers, among others. Under Illinois law, the state must pay 1 percent interest per month on bills that are more than 90 days past due.
The state has paid $611 million in late fees to vendors during the last 12 years or so, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
To assist vendors waiting for overdue payments from the state, Illinois established the Vendor Payment Program. The program steers unpaid vendors to firms that will purchase the vendors’ accounts receivable and then keep the late fees ultimately paid by the state.
At the top of the Vendor Payment Program accounts purchasers list is The Vendor Assistance Program, LLC, or VAP, which Hynes and Solis Doyle started in 2010.
Both Solis Doyle and Hynes have deep ties to Illinois and national Democratic politicians. Solis Doyle was an aide to Vice President Joe Biden and managed Hillary Clinton’s Senate and presidential campaigns. She is a political commentator for CNN and is the sister of 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis. In fact, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that VAP at first operated from the site of Solis’ 25th Ward Regular Democratic Organization.
The Chicago Sun-Times noted that Hynes is a lawyer and lobbyist who served on the staff of House Speaker Mike Madigan and did legal work for Tony Rezko, who was convicted in 2008 on federal charges of participating in a kickback scheme involving clients doing business with government entities.
VAP gave $70,000 to the Democratic Governors’ Association, or DGA, in 2012 and 2013. Solis Doyle contributed $700 to the DGA and $1,000 to former Gov. Pat Quinn’s re-election campaign. VAP also gave $10,500 to Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, the late Republican who occupied the office that pays the state’s bills and late fees.
VAP is yet another instance of Illinois political insiders using their connections to line their pockets with money from state and city taxpayers. These insiders have a vested interest in maintaining the economically ruinous status quo. Wrongful ticketing and attempts at bribery by Chicago’s former red-light-camera company demonstrate that corrupt government programs often enhance only the bank accounts of the purveyors of those services, rather than the safety and well-being of the public. The effects of such programs are also evident in charges that Madigan’s law firm, which handles property-tax-assessment appeals on behalf of clients such as skyscraper owners, benefits from high property taxes.
Politicians shouldn’t continue to foster an environment in which politically connected business owners benefit when the government doesn’t act in the best interest of taxpayers.