CITY HALL — Ald. Deb Mell (33rd) is in hot water over free rent provided by her father, former Ald. Dick Mell.
Kristen Crowell, executive director of the grassroots group United Working Families, said Wednesday she has filed a formal complaint with the City Council watchdog and the Board of Ethics over $300 in "in-kind contributions" Deb Mell has reported in her state campaign disclosures, the value placed for rent for her campaign office at 3655 N. Kedzie Ave., provided by her father. Crowell originally threatened the action last month.
Dick Mell left office in July 2013 and was replaced later that month by his daughter, who was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Dick Mell became a registered city lobbyist shortly before a new ethics ordinance was to take effect banning such revolving-door transitions.
Crowell's complaint lays out how, father-daughter relationship or not, the city ethics ordinance forbids lobbyists from giving more than $1,500 to any candidate in a calendar year.
The complaint states that, at $300 a month, "this total not only exceeds the $1,500 aforementioned yearly limit — it grossly undervalues the space when compared with the $5,200 monthly rent that the Citizens for (Richard) Mell committee paid to Richard Mell in 2011, according to [state Board of Elections] records."
Deb Mell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The office of Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan has previously stated he has to wait to have an official signed complaint before opening an investigation, but according to Crowell that complaint is now filed.
"We can't confirm or deny anything that comes in, because it's confidential," said Kelly Tarrant of Khan's office.
If Deb Mell is found in violation, she could be fined $1,000 to $5,000 or three times the total value of the illegal contributions.
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