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Claypool Picks Up Endorsements, Calls Out Madigan

By Kevin Robinson in News on Sep 2, 2010 1:30PM

2010_9_cook_county_logo.jpg Forrest Claypool, who is running as an independent for Cook County Assessor picked up a slew of endorsements Wednesday, with 9th District Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky leading the day's list. She was joined by several other elected officials who endorsed Claypool over his Democratic challenger Joe Berrios, including outgoing county Assessor Jim Houlihan, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, State Senator Jeff Schoenberg, State Senator Heather Steans, Alderman Robert Fioretti, Alderman Joe Moore, Alderman Gene Schulter, Alderman Mary Ann Smith, State Representative Robyn Gabel, State Representative Harry Osterman, Committeeman Michele Smith and former Senator Carol Ronen. Claypool was also endorsed by the 43rd Ward Democrats. “It’s time to take politics and clout out of the property tax system in Cook County. It’s time that average homeowners and senior citizens receive the fair treatment they deserve. I’m pleased that the elected officials and organizations supporting me today also believe that these principles are more important than party affiliation,” Claypool said in his remarks.

Claypool also took a shot at Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, criticizing what he termed a "conflict of interest" for Madigan's close relationship with Berrios, who is a member of the Board of Review while running a law firm that handles property tax appeals. “This relationship and this partnership, so to speak, is exhibit A in . . . the insider culture that has dominated our politics, that has caused our taxes to go up and the level of faith in government to go down,” Claypool said. A spokesman for Madigan defended his law practice, saying that the speaker does not vote on tax matters that might be a conflict of interest, and that there are “zero examples” of anything improper that Madigan has done in a property tax appeals case. Berrios told the Tribune that clients go to Madigan's firm for their expertise, not because of clout.

Claypool also outlined a series of ethics pledges, promising not to accept campaign contributions from property tax appeals attorneys, as Berrios has done. He also says that if elected, he will not hold private meetings with tax attorneys or appraisers, he won't hold political meetings or calls at the office, and that he will have no relatives on the office payroll.