Oh, the sweet sport of golf -- a blessing for some, a curse for others. But always a money-maker for politicians.
A funny thing happened at Gleneagles Country Club in Lemont last week: a golf outing political fundraiser… for someone who's no longer a politician.
Joseph Mario Moreno served as a Cook County Commissioner for 16 years until he lost his bid for re-election in 2010.
He has not announced plans to run for any other political job. Yet last Thursday, dozens of supporters each plunked down hundreds of bucks for 18 holes of golf, a cocktail reception and dinner, and a table full of golf prizes.
Asked why he’s holding a fundraiser when he’s no longer in politics, Moreno said, “Well, I like to keep my options open.”
Asked to explain how he uses his campaign fund, Moreno replied: "Well the campaign fund is primarily for political purposes. We're creating a treasury in case we want to do something later."
David Morrison of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform said that under state law it's perfectly legal to raise campaign funds even if you have not declared for office.
The problem is, Moreno has a long track record of using his campaign fund to sweeten his lifestyle.
"This is a campaign fund that bears watching,” Morrison said. "The money he's raising now should be money he's not able to use for personal use. He has a history, though, of spending lavishly on stuff that he attends."
Take a look at the Illinois State Board of Elections website, and you'll find Moreno has used various campaign funds to pay for the expensive lease on his luxury car, scores of dinners at pricey restaurants (including $800 for a Ruth's Chris steakhouse in Cancun), airline tickets to Mexico, and trips to Las Vegas.
Moreno even uses his political funds to pay for some of the expenses of his 44-foot yacht, which is moored in a slip at Chicago’s Diversey Harbor.
"We've had parties there,” Moreno explained. “We've had fundraisers at Diversey Yacht Club, and some of the expenses for those receptions and fundraisers, we expense it out of our campaign fund."
Morrison doesn’t see why it needs to be done that way.
"You can talk politics at McDonalds just as well as you can at Gibson's,” Morrison said. “Some of these places -- they're really pushing the envelope."
Moreno said this year's fundraiser was not as well attended as previous golf events when he was in office.
Still, FOX Chicago News counted nearly 50 signs with names of sponsors and contributors lining the entrance to the country club.
Asked if the parties and trips were a little lavish, Moreno said: "Well yeah, you know we work hard and we're entitled to enjoy our lives. Tomorrow you may wake up dead, Dane."