Thursday, February 23, 2012

EXTRA: Will Beavers, the “hog,” take on feds the way he takes on Toni?

Bill Beavers, the self-described “hog with the big nuts,” is going to have to brawl with the federal government in coming months, and it will be interesting to see if he is as feisty with “da G” the way he can be with county board President Toni Preckwinkle.
BEAVERS: Speak up to the feds?

For Beavers is the Cook County Board member who represents the far southeastern corner of Chicago and who uses his position to question just about anything that goes on in government that doesn’t meet his standards.

NOT THAT HE has the standards of the “goo-goos.”  Beavers, who was once with the Chicago Police Department and also was alderman of the seventh ward for many years, is an old-school political type who doesn’t have much time for a lot of the “good government” nonsense – as he sees it.

Back when former county board President Todd Stroger was still around, Beavers was a solid backer of his. When Preckwinkle came in and used her authority to eliminate the county sales tax increase that Stroger used to balance the budget, Beavers was her biggest critic.

To this day, Beavers can be counted on to engage in a rant about how short-sighted the county government officials were to do away with that increase – any time anything comes before the county board that requires extra money.

Will Beavers try to adopt the same attitude in dealing with the federal investigators who on Thursday got a grand jury to indict him on tax-related charges? It’s very likely.

WILL BILL BEAVERS go into the Chicago history books as someone who got busted for tax evasion, similar to Al Capone? It’s very possible.

Because what strikes me about the charges now pending against Beavers is that his actions, in and of themselves, are not illegal. To listen to the Internal Revenue Service, he wouldn’t be in any legal trouble if only he had filled out his tax returns differently.

By comparison, I suspect many people will be more offended by the ways in which Beavers spent money, and will be less concerned about the way his tax return was filled out.

The bottom line is that Beavers is charged with obstructing the IRS and three charges of filing false income-tax returns.

WHAT HE ACTUALLY did was used money donated to his campaign committees (which are supposed to pay for his Election Day efforts) and his county commissioner expense accounts for personal purposes.

No one is being specific, but it is being said that some of the money wound up being gambled away by Beavers – which in and of itself is not a crime.

Another part was used to pay into funds that enabled Beavers to get a larger pension for his time with the Police Department AND with the City Council – a $68,763.07 payment by Beavers nearly tripled his pension to just over $6,500 per month.

It’s no wonder he can afford those self-described “finely-tailored” suits.

HIS ACTIONS ARE completely legal. I recall once having a conversation with then-Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan about this very issue, and how he was planning to bolster his eventual pension by buying credit for more time worked -- making up for the fact that in his early working years, he short-changed his pension contributions so he could have more money for his family’s expenses.

BUT, when you use these kinds of funds for personal purposes, you’re supposed to consider them additions to your income. That means you’re supposed to acknowledge them on your tax return, and be prepared to write out a check to cover the additional tax burden you face from such income.

Federal prosecutors say Beavers did no such thing. When the IRS began investigating, they say Beavers had his campaign committees create records to try to cover up the lack of such payments.

Somehow, I think people are going to be more offended at the idea of a person who already was entitled to a $2,890-a-month pension thinking he should be able to get more.

YET IT’S LEGAL, and surely the kind of activity that Beavers will support.

I have no doubt he’s going to claim in coming months that he is the one being prosecuted. I just want to see for myself if he will get as “lippy” with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as he does these days with Preckwinkle – and anyone else who dares to challenge his way of thinking.


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