TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Republican state senate candidate Seth McMillan failed to disclose a series of small, no-bid contracts his landscaping company secured with the Taylorville school district during a period of time when he sat on the district’s school board, according to documents obtained by WCIA.
“At the time, I did not view that as a conflict,” McMillan said on Tuesday. Without providing any evidence, he claimed that he only charged the school district for materials and labor and did not collect a profit. He did admit, however, that “It was an oversight and it was a mistake on my part.”
State law requires public officials to disclose such business relationships to the public each year. Penalties for willfully failing to disclose an arrangement can be as high as a $1,000 fine or jail time.
McMillan served on the Taylorville School Board from 2009 to 2017. During that period, his company, McMillan’s Landscape Company, invoiced the school district for charges totaling at least $7,196.34. At no time did McMillan report that income to the county clerk.
McMillan’s company has also charged the South Fork School District in Kincaid and for the Christian County Highway Department for landscaping work, but he held no position of authority in either of those units of local government.
In 2016, the Taylorville school district paid McMillan’s company three separate amounts combined for a total of $1,623.99, a figure high enough to trigger one of the state’s required reporting thresholds on income above $1,200. On that question, McMillan’s disclosure form inaccurately reads “N/A.”
“An employee of the Taylorville School District came in and bought supplies for somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 dollars,” McMillan explained. “That was purchased through the school district and I didn’t know that that purchase had been made.
Receipts show one transaction worth $503.95 was made at his retail store, and does not appear to be connected to his original contract arrangement with the school district.
While he admits the error and says he has hired an attorney to file an amended return, McMillan says it was “inadvertent” and that “my company doing a yearly contract of a thousand dollars in some cases to fertilize the grass at a football field is not something to be blown out of proportion.”
McMillan is running to unseat Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) in the state’s 48th senate district.
“This is a simple thing,” Manar said on Tuesday. “If you have a relationship with a unit of government, you have to disclose it as a candidate. It’s not hard. It’s not something that oftentimes gets botched by candidates.”
“In the future, I’ll be careful to disclose that information,” McMillan vowed. “We’re talking about small amounts of money, small projects that I did at cost to help my local school district out.”
“Seth McMillan should follow the law,” Manar responded. “Attempting to cover up mistakes by minimizing the importance of basic public disclosure and transparent government is something that a career politician would do. We have enough of that in Springfield already. We do not need more.”
Local school districts, unlike the state, are not required to seek competitive bids for contract work. McMillan claims his company was the only licensed and insured company in town that could deliver on the contract. That contract is no longer in place as the district replaced the grass on their football field with artificial turf last year.