Does the Sun Times have a lawsuit accusing the McMahon’s of fraudulent contracting practices?


Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter, Illinois PayToPlay

About five weeks before the Sun Times stated that a ”Whistleblower” lawsuit had been filed by Daniel T. Frawley accusing the McMahon’s of fraudulent business practices, the paper received a copy of a related document from a source known to Illinois PayToPlay.

Was that mid-January document the basis for the paper’s recent articles about the McMahon’s?  If so, that’s a problem for the paper that begs several questions.

Does the “Whistleblower” lawsuit, mentioned by the Sun Times in that March 24, 2012 article, even exist?  Or, did the paper, now solidly in the political camp of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, take information from an unverified document, leaked to it by a confidential source, and use that information to attack contractors once closely associated with the Daley regime?

The document that Illinois PayToPlay made public on March 25th, came out a day after the Sun Times kicked off a series of pieces dealing with the McMahon’s.  But, the document had been sent to the paper by a confidential source back on January 17, 2012, attached to the email below.

        From: (sender’s name withheld)
        To: "Tim Novak" <tnovak@suntimes.com>, "Tim Novak"
        Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 3:14:57 PM
        Subject: Fwd: Frawley Whistleblower suit ?


The attached doc. came from a source in contact with Dan Frawley. It was initially represented to us as being a "whistleblower lawsuit" that Frawley filed that involves the McMahons. It was also represented as being sealed.

When we questioned the veracity of the document as to whether it was an actual legal filing - since it is a crude read even without the added comments, presumedly from Frawley - the source amended the description and described it as a "prototype" of the lawsuit.

Recently, that same source suggested that Frawley is happy that you're investigating the McMahons via FOIAs. We can't confirm the veracity of the doc., but thought you might find it of some value in pursuit of a possible story.

It is forwarded in confidence. We don't know what to make of it. Maybe you do. Maybe nothing.


The sender clearly had reservations about the authenticity of the document as representing an actual, filed lawsuit.

When the Sun Times stated on March 24 that, “Frank McMahon’s first cousin, Daniel T. Frawley, filed a “whistleblower” lawsuit in federal court last July accusing McMahon Food, C & C and Krystal of actually being run by men, even though the companies are certified as being women-owned and –operated,” Illinois PayToPlay wondered if the paper had accepted the January 17 document as an actual lawsuit – which seemed unlikely at the time – or had a copy of a genuine, court-filed lawsuit representing Frawley’s accusations.

When a representative of the paper was subsequently asked if a verified, filed lawsuit had been obtained, the representative was unwilling to respond.  Why not?  It was a simple yes-no question.   Perhaps either answer would have caused problems.  A “no” means there is no lawsuit and the paper knows that.  A “yes” could mean someone illegally leaked a sealed court document to the paper.

Illinois PayToPlay wonders if a real, Frawley-initiated, court-filed lawsuit exists, anywhere on the planet. If it does exist, why won’t the Sun Times just show it to its readers?

If it doesn’t exist, then it looks like the paper took an unsubstantiated lawsuit, gleaned allegations from it unfavorable to a contractor for the City of Chicago during the Daley administration, and then used that information to portray Mayor Emanuel as intent on cleaning up the corruption of the previous regime.

In other words, the Sun Times is bending stories to shill for the Emanuel administration?

On March 27, 2012, the Sun Times announced that, “Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing to permanently ban an electrical contracting company with ties to Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) from getting city work because its owners and their husbands allegedly operated phony women- and minority-owned companies that have gotten millions of dollars in city contracts.”

That announcement came just 72 hours after the Sun Times March 24 article mentioning the Frawley lawsuit. That’s fast. That’s awfully fast. So fast, in fact, that we wonder if the paper knew the ban was already in the works and, in coordination with His Honor’s Office, teed up the ban announcement with its series on the McMahon’s, based on an alleged Frawley “Whistleblower” lawsuit that doesn’t exist.