Bring Out the Self-Funders

Rich runs down a bunch of the potentials to replace Tim Balderman as the Republican nominee for Congress in Illinois-11.  God cannot love me enough to let Chris Lauzen run so I’ll discount that possibility right now.

The name that has floated around the most without being shot down is a potential self-funder in Martin Ozinga, one of the brothers running a concrete pouring company.  The business has some issues.  From the Chicago Tribune January 27, 2005

The trucks have brought their owners, Ozinga Bros. Inc. , tens of millions of dollars in city contracts and launched members of the family-owned firm to noted positions in local political and charitable circles.

But behind the scenes, documents and interviews show, the Ozinga firm repeatedly dodged city rules and exploited an affirmative-action program to win lucrative contracts.

Now Ozinga trucks pour concrete for the city under an unusual deal: The city has exempted the company from virtually all minority set-aside requirements.

As City Hall wrestles with scandals in its programs to lift minority- and women-owned businesses, the Ozingas provide a case study in how a white-owned company can work the system–and win.

The company’s actions include creating a spinoff concrete firm in the 1980s to win city business reserved exclusively for minority-owned companies. Martin, Richard and James Ozinga–all white men–enlisted the help of two African-American churches in Chicago’s depressed South Side, giving nine church members 51 percent ownership to technically meet the city’s rules.

But two of the African-American church members now say the spinoff company was bogus and that minorities had little control of the business. “It was a classic front,” church member Henry Washington says.

It’s messier than that and I’ll have more later, but this looks like a fine choice for the Illinois GOP.