Chicago is known the world over for political corruption. But every so often, the suburbs have a way of reminding us that they, too, are not immune.
In a case that seems ripped from the Chicago headlines, the former executive director of the DuPage Housing Authority appears to have used a taxpayer-funded credit card for a wide variety of personal expenses, according to recent investigations.
Allegations of misappropriation of federal housing dollars against ex-director John Day and others have been unraveling for months, but details reported separately in the Chicago Tribune and the suburban Daily Herald this week lay out in detail some of the more far-flung expenditures.
The Daily Herald obtained billing statements showing that the agency card was swiped at local restaurants, flower stores and a cigar shop. It also apparently paid for gifts for members of the Housing Board, a satellite radio subscription for his car, and a $112-a-month health club membership for Mr. Day.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development told that paper that meals and some other expenses can be purchased with agency dollars while traveling. But not locally: “If I went next door and had lunch, I could not use my government credit card for that,” the spokeswoman said, “nor could I use it treat my staff to lunch.”
The Tribune cited a federal document obtained from HUD that laid out more questionable expenses, including "more than $2,600 for cruises on Lake Michigan and a $1,181 tab at a steakhouse for an employee Christmas party."
These revelations come as part of a lengthy investigation that has revealed rampant abuse at DuPage Housing. According to a Chicago Sun-Times story, HUD has identified more than $10 million in improper expenditures of federal dollars intended for low-income housing. Day and Chief Financial Officer Robert Hess were forced out as a result of the revelations.
No legal measures have yet been taken, but a Tribune report from earlier in the week said that criminal charges were coming "very shortly."