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Committee For Better City Government names Hunt Harris as treasurer; Harris again denies involvement

Committee For Better City Government names Hunt Harris as treasurer; Harris again denies involvement

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The Committee for Better City Government, the political action committee behind two rounds of controversial campaign mailers sent to Moline households, has filed its first quarter report with the Illinois State Board of Elections and in it, lists Hunt Harris as the current treasurer.

The report, filed April 15 at 6:12 p.m. by Moline attorney Karla Steele, has an electronic signature for Harris on the committee's D-2 form, despite Harris saying he was no longer part of the committee and didn't know who sent the mailers in a March 31 interview with the Dispatch-Argus and Quad-City Times.

The campaign mailers, sent out the last week of March, accused mayoral candidate Sangeetha Rayapati of covering up an incident at Moline High School that allegedly involved a teacher who posted a sex video on social media. No charges were filed against the teacher, who remains on administrative leave. 

Harris wrote a letter to the editor April 10 again denying involvement with the committee and "urging that political action committees have clear and current information about their officers and supporters." 

Harris said Friday he had nothing to do with filing the D2 report with the ISBE and said it could have defaulted to his name considering his past association with the committee. 

"If these folks had no prior experience with the election website, they may have missed that and misfiled it, but I have no idea who that would have been," Harris said. "It was my understanding that that whole committee was going to be shut down. 

"Again, I have nothing to do with that, and why it was misfiled under my name, I do not know."

Harris said he did not know who the current treasurer and chairman of the committee were, and that he advised the group they needed to update the new officers with the ISBE. 

"I don't like my name dragged through the mud on all of this when I am not associated with it," he said. "I hope somehow this all blows away because it's kind of tarnishing my reputation." 

Harris said he sent an email to someone involved with the committee, telling them how upset he was with the mailers and their content. 

"They know I am not at all happy and don't want any involvement with it. That's all I can do at this point," he said. "It's really up to them to go in and file it and do it right."

According to ISBE reports, the Committee for Better City Government recorded an in-kind donation to Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri on April 6 in the amount of $5,452 paid to Quad City Press, the company used to print the mailers.

Quad City Press owner Dave Brieser confirmed Friday that the $5,452 was spent on the two rounds of mailers and it was the only purchase from the committee on behalf of Acri. Brieser said the invoice was paid by mail and declined to provide a copy of it to the Dispatch-Argus and Quad-City Times. 

Acri lost by 1,417 votes to Rayapati in the April 6 municipal election, capturing just 39% of the vote compared with 61% for Rayapati, according to unofficial results.

According to the ISBE, top donors to the Committee for Better City Government in the first quarter were Jack Laud, owner of Emery Construction, with $1,000; Daniel Palmer, owner of Tri-City Electric, with $1,000; Bob Ontiveros, owner of Group O, with $500; and Miller Trucking and Excavating, with $500. 

In the first quarter, the committee donated $15,000 to Acri's campaign; $2,500 to Alderman at-large Sonia Berg; $1,000 to 2nd Ward Alderman David Parker; $500 to 4th Ward candidate John Zelnio; and $2,500 to 6th Ward Alderman Kevin Schoonmaker. 

Berg, Parker, Zelnio and Schoonmaker were all defeated in the April 6 election. 

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