Martwick, property tax lawyer, fails to disclose political cash

Austin Berg

Director of Content Strategy

Austin Berg
July 22, 2017

Martwick, property tax lawyer, fails to disclose political cash

State Rep. Robert Martwick blamed “poorly written” ethics laws for his failure to disclose income from political consulting work.

State Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, failed to disclose $170,000 in income from his political consulting business, according to an investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The investigation found Illinois politicians have paid Martwick $673,000 through his consulting business, First Tuesday Inc., since 2005. But Martwick failed to list $170,000 in income from First Tuesday over a two-year period after he took office in 2013.

If Martwick willfully filed an incomplete statement of economic interests, he could face misdemeanor charges. According to the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act:

“Any person required to file a statement of economic interests under this Article who willfully files a false or incomplete statement shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.”

Martwick did list First Tuesday on the economic interest statement covering 2016, according to the Sun-Times. “I don’t know how to interpret those questions,” the Chicago Democrat told reporter Dan Mihalopoulos.

Martwick is no stranger to murky waters when it comes to ethics.

The state lawmaker and his father, Robert Martwick Sr., are part of the cadre of politically connected property tax law firms in Cook County that make money by lowering property tax bills. Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Chicago Alderman Ed Burke also run lucrative property tax law firms in Cook County.

Martwick’s law firm relies on the office of Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios to lower property valuations for their clients. Berrios, in turn, has hired Martwick as a political consultant through First Tuesday. The assessor has also depended on lawmakers such as Martwick and Madigan for success in his side gig as a Springfield lobbyist.

Berrios has faced harsh criticism after a sweeping Chicago Tribune investigation found gross inequities in property valuations coming from his office.

A 2010 New York Times investigation revealed lawyers at Martwick’s law firm were the top political donors to Berrios and his daughter, now-former state Rep. Maria Antonia Berrios, over a 10-year period, contributing more than $164,000 to their campaigns.

Martwick’s most recent major vote in Springfield was to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a state budget, which included the largest permanent income tax hike in Illinois history.

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