A Cook County judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann and Trustee Carol Quinlan (Dist. 5) that alleged both had absconded with campaign funds belonging to the former Unity Party.
Village Clerk Jane Quinlan and Trustees Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2), Tom Duhig (Dist. 4) and Tom Phelan (Dist. 6)—the mayor’s former Unity Party slatemates—filed a lawsuit in February 2011 in which they claimed $25,929 in campaign funds were improperly transferred by the mayor to his village board ally, Carol Quinlan.
Judge Mary Mikva said in her order of dismissal on June 28 that the plaintiffs did not present any facts that would suggest there was a “fiduciary duty owed to them by [Heilmann or Carol Quinlan].”
The mayor formed the Unity Party political action committee in 2003. Heilmann, Jane Quinlan, Olejniczak and Phelan
The party split in 2009 over political differences after Heilmann and Carol Quinlan, who is related to the village clerk by marriage, objected to Oak Lawn’s hiring of the Querrey and Harrow law firm.
According to a press release issued by the mayor’s attorney, —Jane Quinlan, Phelan, Olejniczak and Duhig, who was elected to the village board in 2009, “met in a bar” and formed bylaws of a new group called “Unity Party of Oak Lawn.”
Claiming that they were now in control of all the committee’s campaign funds, they sued Heilmann over improperly expending funds raised by the former Unity Party. The lawsuit also alleged that Carol Quinlan was an improper beneficiary of the campaign funds.
Heilmann has called the lawsuit an “embarrassment” to Oak Lawn during an interview last year. The mayor said that he and his friends raised the Unity Party’s first $24,000.
“You have the village clerk suing the mayor she ran with,” Heilmann said. “What disappoints me is that my wife spent six months putting together a musical fundraiser… my friends spent three months working their hearts out and raised $16,000 or $17,000 in 2005 … all these people did that for Erica (the mayor’s wife) and I.”
The mayor added that none of the other Unity Party members’ fundraising events “brought in that kind of money.”
As chairman and treasurer of the Unity Party, Heilmann controlled the campaign funds from 2003 to 2011. In his attorney’s press release, Heilmann said he had to sue the other members of the former Unity Party to get Carol Quinlan’s share, about $18,000, of the campaign funds.
Village Clerk Jane Quinlan said the group only wanted a “six-way split” of the remaining funds.
“I brought a substantial amount of money to the party and labor,” Jane Quinlan said. “Everyone brought something to the party. “You’re a team and if someone would have told me that the mayor would have taken all our money I wouldn’t have believed it.”
Jane Quinlan said Heilmann brought her on board as candidate for village clerk after he first approached her to run for the Dist. 6 trustee seat.
“Dave knew my sister. They were in plays,” the village clerk said. “He came a back a month later and asked if I’d run for clerk.
According to Jane Quinlan, the mayor reached out to her through Carol Quinlan, because their husbands are cousins. The Unity Party parted ways in 2009, when members met at Jack Desmond’s Irish Pub in Chicago Ridge
“That’s a bar,” Jane Quinlan said. "Dave had mentioned he’d like to have fundraiser down the road and we found out that the invitations already went out. How do you think we felt then?”
Before Heilmann transferred funds and dissolved the Unity Party, Jane Quinlan said the mayor offered her $1,000.
“I’m not pimping my party for $1,000,” she added.
Krafthefer called the dismissal of lawsuit “a significant victory for Mayor Heilmann and Trustee Carol Quinlan.”
“Maybe the clerk and trustees will now be able to set aside their political differences and work together with the mayor for the good of Oak Lawn,” Krafthefer said.
Do you think village board members will be able to work out their political differences? Tell us in the comments.
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