Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter
About five years ago, Chicago ABC7 I-Team reporter Chuck Goudie, in a series of investigative reports, exposed the questionable veracity of the founder of the Save A Life Foundation (SALF) and the organization’s claimed achievements. Here is the first of Goudie’s reports.
That was the beginning of the end for the “charity” founded in 1993. During its lifetime, the SALF received millions of dollars ($7,856,869 to be exact) in federal ($2.6 million alone from the Centers for Disease Control) and state grants from several Illinois agencies.
SALF lived off the state and federal largess by enjoying the advocacy of a host of state and federal officials, including, but not limited to, Arne Duncan, who ran the Chicago Public Schools then and is now the Secretary of Education, Illinois State Democrat Senators Emil Jones and Donnie Trotter, plus U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D), and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) – a very active promoter for SALF.
It wasn’t all Democrats, though, who hyped SALF. Former Senator Norm Coleman (R. MN) tried, but failed, to get millions more for SALF from the federal treasury. And, current Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk openly supported SALF and once accepted an award from the “charity”. But the majority of the pols promoting SALF were Democrats.
About three years after Chuck Goudie poked a hole in the SALF balloon, it closed up shop in 2009. But that’s not the end of the story.
A writer for the conservative website, American Thinker, gathered all the Illinois Form 990’s – the annual forms that all charities are required to submit reporting their receipts to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. When the grant monies that SALF reported having received over the years were compared to what the various granting agencies reported they’d given SALF over those same years, there was a discrepancy. SALF had not accounted for having received $853,709. Oops!
In July 2010, this discrepancy was brought to the attention of Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office – where apparently math is not a strong suit since they never noticed the discrepancy – and the AG’s Charitable Trust Bureau, the department responsible for monitoring Illinois charities, allegedly began an investigation of SALF’s finances.
It’s been nearly a year-and-a-half now, and the “investigation” is still…“open.” Of course, “open” doesn’t necessarily mean being pursued. In only means…not closed. It could stay open for…well, indefinitely. That would be The Chicago Way.
So what happened to the missing money? Can we say – Illinois Pay-to-Play?