There's more news on Maine Township District 207 Candidate Aurora Austriaco from the North Cook News that documents the company Aurora is keeping. We've covered how Aurora Austriaco has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Boss Mike Madigan and the 13th Ward political operation, but the news that she used Joe Berrios personal attorney for her ballot challenge? That's nuts!
Maine Township District 207 School Board candidate Aurora Austriaco has friends in high places.Go read the whole thing. It is damning. Why would the Chicago Democrats care about Park Ridge and Des Plaines schools? Money, of course.
A State House speaker once helped her raise more than $497,000 to run for state representative.
One Illinois governor awarded her law firm nearly $1.5 million in state contracts.
A second appointed her to a powerful state commission.
Last month, when Austriaco faced a challenge to her nominating petitions that threatened to derail her candidacy, a top counselor to the powerful Cook County assessor stepped up to represent her before the Cook County Electoral Board.
Why would someone as well-connected as Austriaco -- a powerbroker who has rubbed shoulders with Democratic party luminaries like Michael Madigan, Rod Blagojevich, Pat Quinn and Joe Berrios -- bother to vie for a seat on a sleepy suburban school board?
She isn't saying.
But school boards represent an even bigger opportunity. High school districts are typically the biggest pot of public money in local government. And their budgets -- and automatic annual tax increases -- are vigorously defended by teacher’s unions, often the most politically organized group in a suburban community.Emphasis, ours.
District 207 spends $130 million per year -- $115 million of which comes from local property taxpayers. That total includes hundreds of employees and tens of millions spent on outside contracts that can be steered to politically connected vendors.
Austriaco had once hoped to serve Madigan in Springfield herself.
Madigan initiated an Austriaco run for state representative in 2008 against longtime Republican incumbent Rep. Rosemary Mulligan of Park Ridge. Her campaign raised $497,962 from the state’s most committed Democrat interests, including tens of thousands from trial lawyers and public employee unions.
But her law firm’s $109,000 in donations to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and the state contracts it received, ultimately did in Austriaco. She denied the donations were “pay to play,” but the connection proved too damaging.
Austriaco lost by 3,600 votes. But she stayed involved, serving as campaign treasurer in Murphy’s Senate campaign in 2016.
If she wins a spot on the Maine Township School Board, Madigan might get a return on his investment, just yet.