Embattled Cole Finally Withdraws from Unfunded Tuition Program

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yingling Credits Petition Drives, Taxpayer Outrage at Hypocrisy

Representative Sandy Cole
Representative Sandy Cole

Round Lake Beach, IL – It took multiple petition drives, criticism from dozens of elected officials, and a scathing expose’ for Representative Sandy Cole to finally withdraw from the controversial Legislative Scholarship Program that is both an unfunded mandate and the subject of widespread abuse, including ethics violations and FBI inquiries.

Cole had voted to eliminate the program but, for years, had continued doling-out the coveted perk.

Avon Township Supervisor Sam Yingling, Cole’s opponent for State Representative in the new 62nd District, called for Cole to withdraw from the program after local Representatives Gaffney and Sullivan voluntarily did so and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno lead her entire caucus to stop offering the tuition waiver.

Cole responded seven days later by quietly adding her name as a co-sponsor of current legislation that seeks to eliminate the program. This prompted Yingling and others to insist she be held accountable, saying her move to co-sponsor without opting-out was “hypocrisy” and that “Cole has a pattern of doing one thing in Springfield and the opposite in the district.”

Yingling started a petition drive urging her immediate withdraw. The Better Government Association (BGA) and the Illinois Policy Institute also launched initiatives calling for immediate withdraw.

But Cole would not respond publicly. Her only known response was an email to District 116.org blogger Gene Carey, who published a series of articles on Cole’s flip-flopping. In the email, she blamed others but never addressed the central issue of her own continued participation in the unfunded mandate. This prompted Carey to do a follow-up piece, exposing years of hypocrisy and detailing Cole’s voting record to eliminate the program in Springfield and then actively promoting it back home. (Carey’s report can be read here) Carey ran the piece on February 7th; the same day the BGA reported Cole finally opted-out.

Cole’s only statement on the issue came via her personal Facebook page, where she attempt to divert blame to Yingling, saying “Seems like my opponent in the November election doesn’t read the Chicago Tribune,” apparently in reference to a January 31st article by Eric Zorn in which he lists legislators as “Opting-Out/ Opposed to.” Cole was on this list. However, on that date neither the State Board of Education, who monitors which legislators are participating in the Scholarship Program, nor the BGA were informed of a withdraw from Cole.

Yingling said in reference to the Facebook post: “This is what Cole does, she tries to fly under the radar, evades directly addressing important issues, then blames others.”

“The whole issue was that she opposed the tuition waivers in Springfield but supported them back home. Of course she was on Zorn’s list, she voted against it! But by saying I don’t read the Tribune means she either doesn’t understand what she’s doing is wrong or she’s intentionally trying to manipulate the public. Either way, it’s tragic. She talks out of both sides of her mouth and thinks she won’t get caught.” said Yingling.

With tuition waivers Cole got caught.

“But ultimately we got what’s best for the taxpayers,” said Yingling. “Her Facebook comment called this a ‘campaign stunt.’ What she fails to recognize is that accountability is not a stunt, it’s what’s missing in politics and the reason taxes in Lake County are among the highest in the Country.”

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