Metro-East News

Port board member Andy Economy’s body shop got port business

Exterior view of Andy’s Auto Body in Madison.
Exterior view of Andy’s Auto Body in Madison. snagy@bnd.com

The board of commissioners that oversees the sprawling American’s Central Port operation voted to pay fellow commissioner Andy Economy more than $4,000 for auto repairs and towing, according to a copy of a vendor ledger covering the last five years.

Economy, who is also the Venice Township supervisor, is under investigation by a special prosecutor requested by Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons.

The probe includes Economy’s alleged failure to list payments on county economic interest statements and more than $33,150 paid to his business — Andy’s Auto Body & Towing in Madison — over three years by the Metro East Sanitary District, where he is also a board member and currently serves as president. Economy could not be reached for comment.

Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan on Thursday called for Economy’s removal on ethical grounds for allegedly failing to list the payments from the district, also known as the levee board, on the economic statements. Dunstan said he will present a written request to county board members asking for Economy’s removal at the next board meeting on Nov. 18. As chairman, Dunstan appoints members to dozens of Madison County boards and commissions.

The payments to Economy by the port district were approved by a nine-member board that includes five mayors and three township supervisors. Ten payments were listed since November 2010 totaling $4,004.

I take full responsibility. Certainly that (investigation) brings it to light. Again, looking at it now, in hindsight, was that the best practice in the past? Probably not.

Port Executive Director Dennis Wilmsmeyer

Port Executive Director Dennis Wilmsmeyer said he was aware of the payments when they were made.

“I take full responsibility,” Wilmsmeyer said, adding that the publicity regarding Economy’s payments from the levee board spurred his decision to ask the port board for a policy that would end payments to board members. “Certainly that (investigation) brings it to light. Again, looking at it now, in hindsight, was that the best practice in the past? Probably not.”

Appointments to the port authority board are made by the governor.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s spokeswoman Catherine Kelly did not respond to questions concerning Economy’s payments from the port’s board of commissioners.

However, Kelly stated Georgia Man has been appointed as a state-wide “compliance officer” — a reform to ensure that state employees “comply with all state and federal laws.”

“It is the employee or appointee’s responsibility to ensure that these are properly filed, but it is the chief compliance officer’s role to help our appointees fully understand their obligations and how they comply with them,” Kelly said.

The reform was already under consideration before the News-Democrat in August published the first of several investigative articles concerning the bankruptcies of two members of the state parole board, Kelly said. The reporting, which prompted an investigation by the governor’s office, concerned allegedly false information on the federal bankruptcy and state economic interest statements of Adam P. Monreal and Eric E. Gregg, who are both off the board. Monreal, a former assistant prosecutor in Cook County, was allowed to resign. Gregg, the former mayor of Harrisburg, was dismissed.

Referring to the parole board issues, Kelly wrote that the compliance reform “will hopefully allow us to identify and respond to such instances more quickly and comprehensively in the future.”

$162,686 paid to Andy Economy’s repair shop by Granite City

$40,000 paid to Economy’s shop by Madison

$1,000 paid to shop by Venice Township

Information provided by Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer showed that Economy’s repair shop was paid $162,686 to repair hail damage to 51 city vehicles as the result of a storm in 2012.

Mayor John Hamm of Madison said Economy’s shop was paid about $40,000 over the last several years for the repair of city vehicles, primarily police cars. And Venice Township, where Economy is the township supervisor, has paid his firm just over $1,000.

It was unclear whether Economy was required to report these payments. A check of his county economic interest statements from 2011 to 2015 showed that he wrote “none” or “n/a” in all of about a dozen information categories.

George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625, @gapawlaczyk

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer

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