Springfield State Journal-Register

March 9, 2006

Lobbyist working for Shimkus PAC resigns

By Dori Meinert

WASHINGTON -- A lobbyist who served as treasurer for Rep. John Shimkus' political action committee has resigned, a Shimkus spokesman said Wednesday.

Lobbyist Mark Valente, who has a broad range of corporate clients, had served as treasurer of Shimkus' PAC, the John S Fund, since it was created in 2003.

While it's legal for lobbyists to serve in such official fundraising capacities for lawmakers, such close relationships have come under new scrutiny in the wake of the scandals surrounding former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to bribery and other charges, and former Rep. Duke Cunningham, R-San Diego, who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes.

But Shimkus, a Collinsville Republican who represents part of Springfield, said he didn't ask Valente to resign.

"We appreciate the work Mark did as treasurer of my leadership PAC, which was to file the appropriate FEC reports. While I did not solicit his resignation, I can understand his desire to separate himself from that type of work," Shimkus said in a statement issued by his office.

Until recently, Valente also served as treasurer for nine other leadership PACs, and some of those lawmakers were pressuring him to quit, Shimkus press secretary Steve Tomaszewski said.

While Shimkus earlier said he was considering removing Valente, he said he didn't want to act too quickly because it might suggest there was something improper about their relationship.

"There is nothing improper about this relationship so I don't feel the need to move like either he or I have done anything wrong," Shimkus said last month. He said Valente never lobbied him after becoming his PAC treasurer.

Valente didn't return a phone call Wednesday seeking his comment.

In a Feb. 28 report to the Federal Election Commission, Jennifer Dillman is identified as the new treasurer for Shimkus' PAC. Dillman, a Springfield resident, also is treasurer of his campaign fundraising committee, Tomaszewski said. However, the report lists an Alexandria, Va., address that Shimkus' press secretary said belongs to a professional fundraiser and should have been changed. He wouldn't identify the person.

Many lawmakers have cut their ties to lobbyists in recent weeks. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Chicago, the only other Illinois lawmaker to have a lobbyist as treasurer of a fundraising committee, replaced the lobbyist more than a month ago. In January, Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, notified 23 lobbyists who served on his campaign steering committee that he no longer wanted them to sponsor fundraisers for him.