East St. Louis Township Supervisor Alvin Parks Jr. says “clearing his name” with the Illinois Board of Elections is the first step in his future political plans.
Parks owes the state almost $150,000 in fines because of repeated failures to file campaign contribution reports since 2011, when he was mayor of East St. Louis.
Parks said Monday he’s hoping to reach a settlement with the state board later this month.
“The goal is to reach some settled agreement,” he said. “Whatever that fine or penalty, satisfy that so that I can move on with some of the other political pursuits that I have.”
Parks, who also is a former city council member and city manager, owes a total of $149,560 in fines, and on Monday, Dec. 16, he’s scheduled to appear before the Illinois Board of Elections to ask for a settlement that would allow him to appear on election ballots.
State law requires political committees or politicians to file reports every time a contribution of more than $1,000 is made. Parks stopped filing the campaign contribution reports in 2011 and was fined $5,000 for each failure. He was fined again in August for failure to report, according to state board meeting minutes.
Parks, because he owes fines, cannot be certified for elections, meaning he cannot appear on the ballot even if he files for office. He plans to attempt to reach a settlement with the state by offering roughly $8,700.
The fines, Parks said, began with problems with a computer that held the campaign information in 2011 and was exacerbated by his time as mayor and the duties that came with the position.
“I don’t want to make it look like we’re making excuses but it began with a computer crash in February or March of 2011 and the reporting of the state changed at that time,” he said. “Beyond that, I think just being so busy attending to the duties of being mayor of East St. Louis at that time took me away from what we should have been doing. “
He said that if he were to reach an agreement with the state, his first political goal would be running for the East St. Louis District 24 Precinct Committeeman, a seat he held for 16 years before the state revoked his certification to appear on ballots.
He did not rule out running for reelection in his current role as East St. Louis Township supervisor but said “clearing his name” was the biggest goal of the settlement.
“I don’t know that I’ll be pursuing that again but perhaps something else a little bit down the road,” Parks said. “I don’t know what those other things might be but the first thing is you definitely want to clear your name and that’s a big thing I want to accomplish.”
When he was elected supervisor, he owed roughly $95,000 in administrative fines to the state, but due to uncertainty at the state board about how to enforce unpaid fines, he was allowed to remain on the ballot and won the election.
Parks said he’s hopeful about seeking a settlement with the state and noted that he doesn’t believe the election board actually wants him to pay the nearly $150,000 in fees. He said he thought of the fees as a way to “get his attention.”
“I don’t know what made them come up with a fine that is now about $150,000, but I think that was more of a ‘Let’s make sure to get Mr. Parks’ attention,’ “ he said. “I don’t believe and I don’t want to pretend that I’m understanding everything that’s their motivation but I don’t believe they’re looking for me to pay $150,000.”
If a settlement is not reached with the state board, Parks will be unable to seek re-election for his current position as township supervisor in 2021, or for any other seat in the upcoming election. He is set to appear Monday, Dec. 16, to plead his case with the board.
Kavahn Mansouri is a reporter for the Belleville News Democrat, a reporting partner of St. Louis Public Radio.
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