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Report: Kirk bills benefit ex-girlfriend

June 1, 2012 at 8:22 PM   |   Comments

CHICAGO, June 1 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., backed bills that helped clients of his ex-girlfriend's firm collect millions in public funds, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.

Kirk is currently supporting a bill that could bring in more millions for clients of Arcadian Partners, the public relations company his ex-girlfriend Dodie McCracken headed, the newspaper said.

Kirk, who served in the U.S. House before he was elected in 2010 to the Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama, supported bills directing the Treasury Department to mint and market commemorative coins, with three non-profit groups collecting a surcharge on the transaction. All three were clients of Arcadian Partners, the Tribune said.

Two bills generated $2.81 million in revenue for the Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial Foundation and more than $2 million for the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. Kirk is a co-sponsor of a Senate bill that could result in $5 million in revenue for the March of Dimes, also a McCracken client.

At least two of the measures were brought up after Kirk and McCracken began a romantic relationship, the Tribune said. Kirk and McCracken were living together when the March of Dimes bill was introduced.

Kirk's ex-wife, Kimberly Vertolli, asserted in a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission last year that during his 2010 Senate race, Kirk's campaign may have improperly hidden payments to McCracken by paying her through another company working for the campaign. McCracken's name does not appear in Kirk's federal disclosures, the Tribune reported Wednesday.

A campaign aide for Kirk said the senator is no longer romantically involved with McCracken and denied wrongdoing. The aide called Vertolli's complaint vindictive.

McCracken has said she received more than $143,000 in fees and expenses for her work on Kirk's campaign, the Tribune said.

Vertolli, a lawyer, was hired by the campaign after saying she would no longer support Kirk's candidacy and was paid $40,000 after the election, the newspaper said. Vertolli said she believes the money she received was to "get me to be quiet about my misgivings about McCracken."

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