Irvin’s Pay-to-Play Politics Leave Illinoisans to Pay the Price

As Mayor, Irvin repeatedly used his power to make millions for friends and financial backers




After months of flip-flopping and dodging important questions, Richard Irvin has left voters wondering why he should earn their vote. Equally puzzling is the question of what Irvin has done to earn $50 million in campaign contributions from Republican mega donor Ken Griffin, but recent reporting unearthed a clear glimpse into Irvin’s corrupt web of influence.

In April, WTTW found that Irvin abused his mayoral power to push for millions of dollars in city contracts for Scientel Solutions, a telecommunications firm that contributed $135,000 in funds connected to Irvin’s campaign. Not only has Scientel donated directly to Irvin’s campaign, but there are also reported ties between Scientel and Ken Griffin’s own company, Citadel Securities.

In another example of Irvin’s conflicting public and private interests, JTE Real Estate services, a company run by Irvin’s former mayoral campaign treasurer Michael Poulakidas, which also employs Irvin’s ex-wife Crystal Rollins, struck a development deal with the city of Aurora in 2019. That team is positioned to receive $15 million in city incentives and Irvin has already received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from companies connected to the project.

Most recently, the Chicago Tribune reported that Irvin founded a consulting firm with a city employee and his administration awarded city contracts to former business partners in Virginia — further proof Irvin is willing to cross lines and blur boundaries in his capacity as mayor. No wonder Griffin wants to buy his way to Springfield. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Griffin’s millions will come at a cost, and Illinois’ taxpayers are the ones who will bear the brunt of it.


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