Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dan Seals Pays $1000 a Month for His Commute to the 10th District (UPDATED)

Dan Seals, the Democratic candidate for Illinois' 10th Congressional District, doesn't live in the 10th District, as we've noted time and again, for some years now. He's never moved in, despite the fact that he can't vote for himself (he actually lives in Jan Schakowsky's district, but could never beat her in a primary), and every cycle (this is his third try for the seat) he hands his opponent - first Mark Kirk and now Bob Dold - a juicy campaign issue.

We've talked about this so much that even I'm sick of the harping on it, although I found it interesting that as recently as last week, the Lake County News-Sun felt compelled to ding Dan once again on the issue, even as they gave him their endorsement.

So, we were content to let it lie, and allow 10th District voters to once again decide for themselves is this is an issue or not, until we noticed while looking through Dan Seals' FEC campaign disclosures that Dan buys a lot of gas every month for his commute into the 10th District from his home in the 9th District, even though it's only a few blocks, as Seals' defenders always like to point out.

And I mean A LOT of gas.

We've known that Dan Seals has a thing for gas ever since his ill-fated "gas for votes" stunt that failed miserably last cycle, and got him in a whole lot of hot water with Lincolnshire police, as Team America readers well remember.

But now we find that Dan Seals has been getting reimbursed, on average, about $1000 EVERY MONTH since January, for his gasoline expense. Check out the monthly reimbursements (with filing links) below:

"Jan auto reimbursement", $1112.00
"Feb auto reimbursement", $1009.00
"March auto reimbursement", $994.50
"April auto reimbursement", $1132.00
"May auto reimbursement", $1018.50

"June auto reimbursement", $1059.50
"July auto reimbursement", $1006.00
"August auto reimbursement", $1078.00

By the way, this is all apparently personal reimbursement to Dan, as his other campaign workers also get specific reimbursements for things like their auto expenses, medical insurance, etc. So, doing the math, if you take $1000 worth of gas a month, assuming about $3.00 a gallon, that's using about 333 gallons a month. If Seals' car gets about 20 miles to the gallon (I assume being the 'green' kind of guy he is, he probably drives a hybrid, so I think 20 miles is probably pretty conservative), that means that Seals is driving a whopping 6,600 miles a month, or over 200 miles a day. That's an awful lot of round trips around the 10th District, PER DAY.

Now, I suppose Seals could be leasing a car and is being reimbursed for that (although I suspect his supporters might look quite askance at that kind of use of their donated campaign funds), but even supposing the campaign is paying for a $500/month Beemer for our frugal man-of-the-people candidate (and I have no idea if that's the case), that's still around a hundred miles a day in gas expenses, EVERY DAY of the month.

Seals has been called out before for paying himself living expenses out of his campaign fund. Is he really using this much petrol exclusively for his campaign efforts, or is something else going on here, folks?

UPDATED 10/20/10 6:30 a.m.: I did some more looking at Seals' FEC filings last night and came away with two other interesting observations:

First, if you look at the entries for 'auto reimbursement' for 2010, the checks for the first three months, January, February and March, were all cut to Seals on the same day, April 21, 2010 (he then started being more timely with cutting monthly reimbursement checks to himself the rest of 2010). Odd - Seals was keeping his car/gas/mileage/whatever-he-did records for those months but decided to sit on them until April? Didn't he famously complain about how he's not a "millionaire" who can't personally afford to move into the District -- but now he can eat $3000 of car expense for several months until he gets around to asking his campaign for the money back? Moreover, didn't a Seals sycophant recently make a similar complaint about something similar with Bob Dold not timely accounting for expenses in his campaign?

Second, I went back to the FEC filings and as far as I can tell, Seals did not claim any auto reimbursements in 2009, despite the fact that he announced his third try for this congressional seat way back in July 2009.

So, let's get this straight: in 2009, the beginning of this campaign cycle for Seals, he claims no auto reimbursements that entire year. He was locked in a tight battle with State Rep. Julie Hamos for the February 2010 Dem primary, which he won by the slimmest of margins. So, he was definitely campaigning his guts out (or at least what passes for that for Seals). Then, in April of 2010, he makes a retroactive claim to his campaign for three months worth of 2010 car expenses, with amounts eerily consistent every single month, showing that from nothing in 2009, he instantly started driving around the District to the tune of roughly a $1000 a month in 2010, and continued this level of consistency, based on the monthly average, the rest of 2010?

And don't tell me that Seals is new to this and only just now, in 2010, figured out to reimburse himself for his campaign car expenses. He's been campaigning for this seat for five years, has moved millions of dollars through his campaign account, and even knows how to pay himself a salary out of his campaign fund when he needed to.

Folks, something about this just ain't right.


Anonymous said...

If you google map his house, 638 laporte ave in wilmette, 60091, and then go satellite street view it looks like he has a red suv/minivan in the driveway and black ford taurus in front.


Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for a glib statement from Blue or someone else in denial about this goofy guy. No, it's not illegal to pay yourself from campaign funds, but it sure speaks to the kind of fool who'd do it again. And the pup IS that kind of fool. 10th District voters are not going to be fooled or duped by this guy. But his antics would fit right in with the Chicago style politcs now alive and well on the Potomac.

Blue Wind said...

The debate tonight between Alexi and Kirk was really remarkable. Worth watching. Alexi made Kirk look real bad. Unable to answer basic questions. Like this one:


Alexi will be a great senator. One of the best IL ever had. He will win decisively in 2 weeks.

Team America said...

Blue, your credibility here is about zero on such issues - Alexi could have confessed to be a serial rapist on TV and you would still have called the debate for him.

I only saw the highlights on the 10:00 news so far, but from what I saw, I think I agree with Mary Ann Ahern that it probably didn't do a whole lot to move the undecideds either way.

Team America said...

BTW, Blue, no response to the topic at hand, which is Dan Seals' gas habit? Our readers have been waiting for your spin on that. Should be easy for you after fielding the Kirk-Alexi debate.

Anonymous said...

6,600 odd miles a month? That's like driving from NYC to New Mexico each month. So figuring that he is somewhat obeying most speed limits in the 10th, at 40 miles per hour, that means Seals spends a week behind the wheel each month driving around?

Which law of physics is being put to the test here?

Either he has a hole in his gas tank, or a hole in his reported story to the FEC. Which hole is it?

Something is pretty fishy about all this!

Louis G. Atsaves

Anonymous said...

TA, I think you're on to something, but you didn't point out that Seals's claimed reimbursements are simply too consistent to be legit. How can his monthly travel expenses be within $100 of each other each month from January (right before the Primary) through February and March (likely taking a little time off after the election), and then remain steady, every month; Right through spring and summer. No matter what's going on in the election cycle, no matter how many events are going on, no matter what.

Louis you are right, this stinks like week-old fish.

Anonymous said...

Come on, Blue, don't disappoint those of us waiting to read your erudite comments on your boy Dan and his latest gas gambit. I'd be a whole lot more comfortable if he just listed that disbursement as his salary for the month. For him to be so silly about something so blatant speaks volumes. Dan Seals is a bad joke.

Anonymous said...

Trust me, I'm not voting for him, but it's not completely as simple as portrayed:

Multiple campaign events per day across district
Oil changes
Unscheduled maintenance
Tire rotation

If one of his cars is primarily devoted to campaigning, all of those are legit and more. I don't drive nearly as much as the candidates must and I get $300 per month and that doesn't really cover all of my work related vehicle expenses.

Publia said...

Let's assume for the sake of argument that Dan is not cheating and the expenses are sort-of legitimate. I challenge any of you to go over to that 638 Laporte address and leave with the impression that a candidate lives there. The usual candidate trappings--visitors, yard signs, and anything else typical to the house of a candidate--is simply missing. Perhaps by the time you get there his team will have staged the neighborhood, but they sure haven't in two prior campaigns.

There are virtually no yard signs around the district also, although I saw a few on Pine St. in Winnetka last night. Ever see a candidate running a campaign in a district where yard signs didn't show up?

Anyone remember the talk that Dan had sold his house and was planning to move to Wisconsin with his cheese-executive wife after the last election? That might make some sense. Also might make sense if he had already moved to Washington DC where his campaign is located and loves to drive back here for his events.

Blue Wind said...

Sorry but this post is ridiculous. $1000 per month does not sound that much for a candidate who may be using a car constantly during the campaign. But why dont you make it simple? Why dont you post how much does Mark Kirk spend monthly for automobile expenses? Can you find that out? Or how much did he while he was running for IL10?

Team America said...

Blue, you think any hit on Seals (or Alexi) is ridiculous and your guys can do no wrong. But for once we're sort of on the same wavelength - before I posted, I spoke with one of Kirk's high-levels staffers for a gut-check on this issue, and the staffer told me that he thought it was way, way out of whack for the 10th District. See more discussion in this morning's update.

Blue Wind said...

If Kirk's "high level staffers" thought that it was out of whack for the 10th District, why dont you ask them to give the exact numbers for Kirk's campaign in IL-10 in 2008. What was it? $100, $200, $500? Lets see how huge is the "scandal" you discovered. However, if I were you, I would not hold my breath. Kirk's campaign is notorious for avoiding answers to basic questions. So, I doubt that you will be able to get any answers from them about the equivalent expenses of Kirk at the time of the race in IL-10 in 2008. Wanna bet? :)

Anonymous said...

Just moved here from northern CA in time to register for the November 2nd election. So far have received three mail pieces from SEALS and his supporters depicting women behind bars, handcuffed in a police car, etc. all indicating DOLD wants to jail women for invoking their right to choose.

We have some crazy s--t in CA but nothing like this!!It appears Illinois politics really are "full contact."

Everything I've discoved on DOLD'S website and print material shows pro-choice.

Does the SEALS campaign think ALL independants are idiots? I mean really, showing women locked up??

Doesn't even live here in IL-10??

Maybe Il Dems should get some new candidates.....didn't you guys turn down this guy twice already??

Team America said...

Blue, if you have that much doubt, you're certainly free to do what I did (i.e., a little actual research), and look up Kirk's FEC filings for the past 10 years, and moreover, look at Bob Dold's as well. If you can make any comparisons for similar expense reimbursement levels that exonerate Seals in your opinion, please feel free to come back and share.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:56

Welcome to Illinois!!!

We can rationalize everything!!! Try asking the Seals campaign where their guy has worked for the last six years............you'll hear "consultant."

Nice, right?

Hamos was soooooooo much better. I had hoped for a race but two polls now show Dold up by double digits and surging.

I was a volunteer for Seals in 2006 and he repeatedly stated to staff and volunteers that after the 2006 election he was moving into the district regardless of the outcome of the election.

One thing he's not short of is excuses.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who Dan is gonna vote for...

Oh, I almost forgot. Blue Wind, you're an idiot.