Boykin bankroll helped candidate win primary

Lion's share of campaign funds went toward direct mail

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

A cash infusion of $125,000 from 1st District County Board candidate Richard Boykin in the last six weeks of the March 18 Democratic primary helped lead the candidate to victory, according to state records.

Boykin, who loaned his campaign the money in the final days of the race, spent $320,112 in 2014, while Sercye's campaign spent $216,137.

Boykin said he was forced to spend his own money to hold off second place finisher Blake Sercye, who surged after being endorsed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel about a month before the primary.

Preckwinkle's campaign fund donated $52,000 to Sercye's campaign. Sercye also received a number of four-figure contributions from out-of-district donors with close ties to Emanuel.

Boykin said Sercye's endorsements by Emanuel, Preckwinkle and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White hurt his fundraising efforts, prompting him to put his own money into the race.

"Whenever you get somebody like Mayor Emanuel involved, it sort of freezes people," Boykin told the Wednesday Journal. "We had invested too much energy, effort and time in order to come up short. We were not about to be outmaneuvered or outspent by all these elected officials who decided that they wanted to back the Boykin campaign."

In addition to the loans, Boykin donated $14,500 to his campaign in August. He made another loan of $7,000 to his campaign last month to pay campaign expenses, he said.

Boykin could raise the money to repay the loans but he said he has made no effort to do so yet. "We've given donors a break," he said.

Direct mail was the largest cost for both Boykin and Sercye, according to state records.

Boykin spent nearly $150,000 on nine separate mailings to district voters, while Sercye spent close to $110,000 on direct mail. Boykin also spent just over $17,000 on a campaign commercial on WGN-TV that featured Congressman Danny Davis.

Sercye's campaign hired The Strategy Group, an Evanston-based political firm run by well-known Illinois political strategist Peter Giangreco, to produce its direct mail pieces. The Strategy Group has done extensive work for Barack Obama and a number of other high-profile clients.

Emanuel's role in directing money to Sercye's campaign is evident in a number of contributions the candidate received from individuals associated with Grosvenor Capital Management, a Chicago-based hedge fund.

The firm's chief executive officer, Michael Sacks, a Highland Park resident who is close to Emanuel, donated $4,000 to Sercye's campaign in March as did a number of others associated with the firm. Sacks has donated $110,300 to Emanuel campaign committees since 2011.

Emanuel is chairman and Sacks is vice-chairman of World Business Chicago, a nonprofit that aims to entice businesses to locate in Chicago.

Sercye also received several $4,000 contributions from Grosvenor executives, including partner Stephen Malkin, vice-chairman Paul Meister and managing director Joseph Gutman.

Sercye also received contributions of $2,000 from three members of the Crown family, including a $2,000 contribution from Lester Crown, who has given generously to both Democrats and Republicans in Illinois and contributed $5,300 to Emanuel's campaign fund in March.

Sercye also received a $1,000 contribution from Bettylu Saltzman, an early backer of Obama.

Longtime lobbyist Al Ronan contributed $750 to Sercye's campaign.

Sercye, a young lawyer at the law firm of Jenner& Block, donated $3,850 of his money to his campaign and loaned his campaign another $8,000. He spent nearly $500 of his own money on Facebook advertising for his campaign, expenditures that were recorded as an in-kind contribution to the campaign.

Other candidates in the race were badly outspent by Boykin and Sercye.

Former 29th Ward Ald. Ike Carothers, who finished third, spent $47,425 in the quarter ending March 31, according to state filings, while Brenda Smith, who placed fourth in the race, spent $7,663. Oak Park activist Ron Lawless, who placed fifth, self-funded his campaign, loaning himself $50,000 and spending $25,380.

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Posted: May 7th, 2014 12:10 AM

He loaned his campaign $125,000 to get a job that pays $85,000 a year. Even averaging over one term that is more than a third of his annual salary if he plans to pay it back any time soon. It is not uncommon for candidates to loan their campaign money but I haven't seen it to this degree in quite some time.

J.Martin Konecki  

Posted: May 6th, 2014 3:56 PM

Richard is a breath of fresh air. He has done more so far before he is even sworn in than some current sitting commissioners. The residents of the 1st District and the entire County are lucky that he won the election. Thank You Richard.

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