Illinois Senator Mark Kirk (R) has been accused by his ex-wife, Kimberly Vertolli, of breaking campaign finance laws for not fully disclosing payments of more than $143,000 to his then-live-in girlfriend and campaign aide, Dodie McCracken.
But wait! It gets weirder. Vertolli herself was hired as a lawyer for the Kirk campaign and paid $40,000.
So — Kirk hired his ex-wife to work alongside his current girlfriend? What could possibly go wrong?
Happier times: Mark Kirk and Kimberly Vertolli divorced amicably in 2009, but she said that it was the excessive ‘Svengali’-esque rule that PR consultant Dodie McCracken had over him that caused their split (via Daily Mail)
According to the complaint filed with Federal Election Commission, the Illinois Senator never paid McCracken directly but instead used a third party.
“Though it is legal for a candidate to pay a spouse or friend for work on a governmental campaign, Ms Vertolli is now raising questions about the timing of those payments,” the Daily Mail notes.
Why would the timing be odd? Well, you see, Vertolli and McCracken have a history.
The Illinois senator divorced his wife in July 2009 when he was still a Congressman. The divorce was “amicable,” according to reports at the time.
However, in a 2010 interview, Vertolli told the world how she really felt about McCracken.
“[W]hen Ms Vertolli was interviewed by Chicago Magazine [she] said that she felt that her ex was too easily influenced by Ms McCracken, who she said was a ‘Svengali figure,’” the Daily reports.
“In the interview, Ms Vertolli said that Ms McCracken, who had Mr Kirk as one of her clients before she and her ex were even married, was ‘a pernicious force on his team who is wielding a disproportionate amount of negative influence,’” the report adds.
But if you think that’s bad, here’s the kicker: Vertolli blames McCracken for the divorce.
“Mark could either stay married to me, or she could find another place. But there wasn’t enough room for the two of us to stay in Mark’s life,” Vertolli said.
“Unfortunately, she never left. When Mark decided to run for the Senate, she shifted most of her attention [from other clients] to trying to control Mark and the direction of Mark’s campaign,” she added.
So why in the world would the Kirk campaign put Vertolli in the same room with McCracken? According to the senator’s ex-wife, it was to get her to shut up about his girlfriend.
Vertolli claims that although her payments were also not listed with her name it was legitimate (unlike the payments to McCracken).
“Ms Vertolli told The Chicago Tribue that $40,000 was deposited into an ‘obscure corporate entity’ after Mr Kirk won the election,” the Daily reports.
Suspicious: Kimberly Vertolli thinks that she was just hired by her ex’s campaign to stop her from badmouthing his relationship with McCracken (via Daily Mail)
“While technically that may be legal, she now thinks the money was merely a ruse to ‘get me to be quiet about my misgivings about McCracken,’” the report adds.
The campaign staff for Sen. Kirk has criticized the complaint.
“While Sen. Kirk and Ms. Vertolli divorced amicably three years ago and she actively supported Mr. Kirk’s 2010 Senate campaign, Ms. Vertolli has since filed a groundless complaint consisting of bitter personal attacks and is attempting to involve a federal agency in a divorce settled 36 months ago,” the senator’s campaign manager Eric Elk told The Tribune.
“We are saddened that she decided to file this ill-advised complaint and abuse the FEC process to air personal grievances,” he adds.