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Ill. Official Indicted in Extortion

January 28, 1999

CHICAGO (AP) _ Federal officials say city Treasurer Miriam Santos was so hungry for campaign funds when she ran for Illinois attorney general that she blacklisted companies that refused to contribute money.

Chicago lost about $16,000 in interest because Santos cut off the seven companies from city business, a federal indictment charged Wednesday.

``Santos is charged with making decisions about ... the investment of city funds based upon the impact of those decisions on her campaign for attorney general,″ U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar said.

Santos has denied the charges. Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, a Republican running for re-election, thumped Santos in the contest, winning more than 60 percent of the vote.

Lassar said that Santos pressured the companies for money ``with the understanding that if they did not contribute, they would lose their business with the city.″

The 12-count indictment charged Santos, 43, with putting undue pressure on companies to contribute, prodding them to exceed the city’s $1,500 campaign contribution limit and forcing treasurer’s office employees to work in her attorney general campaign while on the city payroll.

Santos, who is running for re-election as treasurer in the Feb. 23 city election, said she was innocent of the charges.

``The timing of this indictment only weeks before the election is not only unjust, it is patently unfair,″ Santos said.

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