CHICAGO - Back in 1994, when I ran for congress against Rep. Bobby Rush in the First Congressional District, his back taxes were already a problem. The media and Congress ignored it then.
Will they continue to ignore it now after this latest investigation involving Rep. Rush that has unearthed more than $195,000 in back taxes and the disappearance of $1 million contribution to his nonprofit that was meant to build a technology center on Chicago's troubled South Side?
Why do we continue to allow our congressional representatives to live by different rules than the people they serve? The media have ignored Rep. Rush's indiscretions for too long and it is now coming home to roost. Talk about giving Chicago a bad name: Rush isn't just proof of the Chicago Way, he's proof that Chicago's Way is the wrong way.
Back in 1994, I sent out press release after press release about the congressman's $50,000 in back taxes and unpaid child support and all were ignored by the media in Chicago. When the media turned a deaf ear, I pulled copies of the tax liens and confronted the Chicago congressman at his own press conference about his taxes and child support. I made the news but days later, the Chicago media the story was dead and gone and no mention of it in the days leading up to the election.
Here's the video:
Then I found evidence of the congressman's more than $10,000 in unpaid parking tickets and brought the information to famed investigative reporter Walter Jacobson. Instead of reporting on the issue, Jacobson contacted Rush who promptly paid his parking tickets and the story never aired.
Was it on purpose to protect the congressman? You be the judge.
Here is a partial list of Rush's liens of early tax liens up to 1996.
Questions plagued Rush and his wife over defaulted mortgages in 2012 but the story was buried in Chicago newspapers' inner pages and the questions dissipated.
Now, a new series of investigations by the Chicago Sun-Times in Chicago have uncovered more serious questions of abuse of power and corruption:
- Rep. Rush's nonprofit was given $1 million to create a technology center on the South Side yet no center has ever been built. What happened to the money?
- Utility and telecom companies donated $1.7 million to organizations tied to Rush.
- Rush hasn't paid rent on his campaign office for 12 years, a potential campaign violation. Instead, Citizens for Rush has paid Rush's wife, Carolyn, more than $404,000 as a campaign consultant and given $196,000 to help the church the congressman founded, Beloved Community Christian Church pay off creditors and buy property.
- The Chicago Sun-Times/BGA investigation also showed that Rush, his wife, Beloved Community Christian Church, and another Rush non-profit may owe as much as $195,000 in delinquent taxes.
The reality is that Bobby Rush's tax problems have been ignored for decades. He has been given a pass that few other political figures have been given. So what now? Will the media keep the heat on this time or will the questions fade? Will Congress finally investigate Rep. Bobby Rush? Or does his past as a former Defense Minster of the Black Panther Party absolve him of paying taxes too?