Boykin claimed homeowner exemptions on 3 properties

Rival candidates for 1st District commissioner uncover donations to Republicans

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Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

A leading candidate in the 1st District County Board race has claimed property tax homestead exemptions that he didn't qualify for. Richard Boykin has claimed exemptions on three pieces if property, two condominiums in Oak Park and a home in Bolingbrook. A taxpayer is only allowed to claim the homestead exemption on a home that is the taxpayer's personal residence.

Boykin, a former chief of staff to Congressman Danny Davis (D- Chicago) and a partner in the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg, told Wednesday Journal that he was not aware of his multiple homestead exemptions until recently. Once he learned of the issue Boykin says that he quickly took steps to correct the mistake that saved him thousands of dollars on his property taxes.

On Feb. 6, 2014 Boykin faxed both the Will County and Cook County Assessors offices asking that the homestead exemption that he had claimed on two properties that he owns be cancelled.

"That was brought to my attention a couple of days ago," Boykin told the Journal last week.

"We've signed the appropriate forms to waive those exemptions on those two properties. I'm only going to claim it for the one that I'm living in."

Boykin said he lives in a condominium at 106 S. Ridgeland Ave. in Oak Park that he purchased last summer. Prior to that he said he lived at a condominium at 431 S. Harvey Ave. in Oak Park that he purchased in 2005. Boykin said that he has rented out the Harvey Avenue condominium since he moved to the Ridgeland Avenue condo last summer. Both condominiums are titled in Boykin's name alone.

In 2011 Boykin and his wife, Daphne Boykin, purchased a home in Bolingbrook in Will County. Boykin also claimed a homestead exemption worth $6,000 for the Bolingbrook home. Boykin says that he is currently separated from his wife and that only his wife and son live at the Bolingbrook home meaning that Boykin would not qualify for the homestead exemption on the home.

"I've never lived there," Boykin said.

Boykin said that claiming multiple homestead exemptions was just a mistake he made that he is now correcting.

"Until it was brought to my attention I didn't know, to be honest with you, I hadn't even thought about that stuff," Boykin said. "Obviously when we found out about it we did the necessary things in order to make it right."

Boykin's opponents in the March Democratic primary don't buy that explanation.

"We're talking about almost two years of him having a homeowner's exemption" said Ron Lawless an Oak Parker who ran and lost a race for the 1st District County Board seat in 2010 running as the candidate of the Green Party. "The only reason he is addressing this issue is that he got caught."

Lawless said claiming multiple homestead exemptions reflects poorly on Boykin no matter what the explanation.

"If he can't handle his own personal business what makes you think he can handle my business as a Cook County Commissioner," Lawless said. "He's an attorney. If anybody should know better it should be him. He is an officer of the court. He's a person who knows the law. He knows what should be legal and what's illegal. You're either incompetent or dishonest."

Candidate Blake Sercye, a 27 year old, third year associate at the prestigious law firm of Jenner & Block, also isn't buying Boykin's explanation.

"I think it is disappointing that someone who lives in Bolingbrook is running for this office," Sercye said. "You know people who claim multiple homestead exemptions cheat honest taxpayers out of millions of dollars each year and it's unfair for Mr. Boykin to claim that he's lived in Oak Park for however long when from what I've been told he bought a place 40 days before he filed his petitions."

But Boykin says he never lived in Bolingbrook and made an honest mistake that he is now correcting.

"I'm not a real estate lawyer," Boykin said. "It's an oversight. I didn't know. When it was brought to my attention I corrected it. I would never attempt to try to abuse the system. That's not who I am.

"I'll pay whatever I have to. I'm not worried about that. I'll do whatever I need to make it right," he added. 

Supported Republicans

Boykin's opponents also fault him for supporting Republican Mark Kirk in the 2010 Senate race in Illinois and making some other financial contributions to other Republicans.

Boykin acknowledges backing Kirk and says that it is an advantage that he has friends in both parties.

"Mark Kirk has been a good friend of mine for a number of years," Boykin said. "I did support Senator Kirk in the Senate race. I'm proud to be a bridge builder. I've supported Republicans in the past. I've supported more Democrats. I'm proud to be a lifelong and loyal Democrat. In the work that we do you need to bring everybody together from both sides. I think part of the problem in Washington right now is that you have so much partisanship."

Boykin said that he can use his relationship with Kirk to help the residents of the 1st District and that the attacks on him for supporting Republicans in the past are going to fall flat.

"I've heard those allegations and I think it's going to backfire on them," Boykin said. "The real deal is people want to know can you get things done for them. I'm the only candidate in this race who can call a Democratic senator and get my call returned and call the Republican senator from the state of Illinois and get my call returned."

Reader Comments

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Not shocked  

Posted: February 19th, 2014 9:14 AM

And David Pope looks foolish...once again. Way to go!

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 6:18 PM

Anan went on record renouncing his endorsement. He endorses Sercye... http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/2-18-2014/Mayor-Emanuel,-Toni-Preckwinkle-and-Oak-Park-President-Abu_Taleb-Endorse-Blake-Sercye-in-1st-District-race--/

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 4:40 PM

@CDovonan2: Yes, I realize that. I was wondering if the endorsement still stands from both of them.. I misspelled the word re indorse.sorry about that.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 4:12 PM

Not sure who I am voting for, but it sure isn't Boykin!

Cdonovan2  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 3:08 PM

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park; I guess you missed it. David Pope endorsed Boykin two weeks ago in a letter to the Wednesday Journal. The headline referred to only two candidates in the race for 1st District Commissioner; Boykin and Carothers. Unfortunately, Anan already endorsed Boykin. In case you missed today's Tribune there was an article reporting that Preckwinkle and Emmanuel endorsed Sercye.

Matt from Oak Park  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 1:55 PM

Sorry, I know in Cook County you have to actively file paperwork to receive the exemption and it is not easy to believe that we are the only county to do so. He mistakenly filled out paperwork stating that each property was his only residence? muntz, Mr. Boykin is running to secure the nomination of the Democratic Party. I think this is an incredibly fair comment as he wants to represent the Democratic Party in the fall election.

muntz  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 1:05 PM

"I don't think Tim Scott is somebody who represents the values of a true Democrat in the First District," Sercye said..... Well, I am not a Democrat. So is our Rep only supposed to associate with those whose values mirror that of "true Democrats"? If so, I am not being fairly represented. May I secede to another district that feels I have the right to at least a modicum of representation?

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 12:49 PM

I am waiting for past President of the Village of Oak Park, David Pope, to re indorse him.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 9:53 AM

"... I hadn't even thought about that stuff," There's a lot of this going around. Must be the weather!

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 8:53 AM

"Carothers has the most name recognition, although some of it is negative." Some? Seriously? I wouldn't vote for this moron if he was the only one running. And we also have a guy who "just found out" that he had homestead exemptions on three properties?

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 8:50 AM

Holy crap - what great choices we have in this race! Who to vote for? Who to vote for?

Cdonovan2  

Posted: February 18th, 2014 5:40 AM

"... I hadn't even thought about that stuff," Yet, Mr. Boykin will have to think about the amount the County loses each year to exactly this kind of mistake. Vote Sercye!

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