On Thursday, in front of the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, Cabonargi falsely denied exceeding contribution limits imposed by the Cook County Ethics Ordinance and also denied any association with a committee used by him to circumvent the ordinance 

Chicago, IL – Progressive reformer and Democratic candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Jacob Meister, joined Caroline “Coco” Soodek, the petitioner in a complaint filed with the Cook County Board of Ethics and her attorney Scott Kane to discuss serious and ongoing ethics violations by Board of Review Commissioner Michael Cabonargi.

“Yesterday, on behalf of Ms. Soodek, I filed a formal request for investigation with the Cook County Board of Ethics regarding Board of Review Commissioner Michael Cabonargi’s past, present, and ongoing violations of the Cook County Ethics Ordinance’s limitations on campaign contributions. The Ethics Ordinance specifically restricts candidates and elected officials from accepting contributions above a certain threshold from several categories of individuals, including, inter alia, those seeking “official action” from county offices. The complaint presented today shows that Cabonargi has repeatedly violated these restrictions by accepting violative donations – many of which are from attorneys that appear before him and the other commissioners at the Board of Review,” said Attorney Scott Kane. 

The complaint was filed yesterday with the Cook County Board of Ethics.

“With the election of Mayor Lightfoot and Assessor Kaegi, the public has made clear that they expect our public officials to operate in the public interest, not their own personal interest. Mr. Cabonargi has a long history of engaging in pay-to-play and on hundreds of occasions has taken political contributions that exceed ethical limits from litigants and lawyers who appear before him and are seeking to have their property taxes reduced.  Cook County cannot afford to elevate yet another pay-to-play politician like Cabonargi to the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court. Cabonargi represents everything that is broken with our county government and he cannot be trusted to take control of the operations of our court system.” said Jacob Meister.

Michael Cabonargi has previously been cited for at least 126 violations of the Ethics Ordinance by the Cook County Board of Ethics – approximately $68,950 in such excess donations. 

“I felt obligated to call out this injustice, it’s bad enough that members of the Board of Review are allowed to take contributions from those seeking to lower their property taxes. On top of this, Cabonargi is trying to circumvent the rules so he can collect more money in another committee. I hope that when my complaint is reviewed, we will all see that systemic change needs to take place with how the Board of review accepts donations,” said Coco Soodek. 

The complaint states that since being ordered by the Board of Ethics to correct his unlawful campaign finance practices, Cabonargi has:

  • Redirected approximately $38,550 of these violative contributions into the political party committee which is under the direct control of Cabonargi’s fundraisers and operates at his direction.
  • Accepted approximately $76,463 in additional donations that violate the Ethics Ordinance into both his primary and “redirect” committee.
  • Simply failed to refund approximately $5,200 of the identified violative contributions.
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