CHICAGO (WLS) -- Kimberly Lightford, a powerful Illinois state senator, is at the center of a scandal involving an embattled Chicago hospital.
Maywood Democrat Lighford is accused of accepting trips, campaign donations and cash through Lorreto Hospital, where she serves on the board.
Senator Lightford rose through the ranks to become the state senate majority leader. She said what makes her proud is helping save the West Side's Loretto from financial collapse. For 21 years, Lightford has served on the Loretto board, steadfastly supporting the hospital during its recent controversy over COVID-19 vaccines. However, a Better Government Association and Block Club investigation reveal Lightford has received perks and benefits from the publicly funded hospital for years.
"Our investigators found that she has received trips to the Caribbean, and we don't know how much in pay from an insurance company that is owned by the hospital," said David Greising, Better Government Association president.
The insurance company is only able to incorporate in the Cayman Islands, and by law, two Loretto board meetings must be held there. They took place at the Ritz Carleton.
"If it happens, they hold board meetings in the Caymans, so be it. An elected public official should not take benefit such as a trip funded," Greising said.
The BGA said Lightford did return the payments for a couple of the trips but not all.
Through a written statement, Loretto Hospital defended Lightford and the board.
Loretto Spokesperson Becky Carrol wrote in part, "Any travel and reimbursements, or modest compensation made for time spent working on behalf of the board, was given to all members, which is a common business practice across industries."
In addition, the BGA said Lightford's campaign fund received about $38,000 from the hospital's management company. Lightford said the contributions were over a 12-year period. Lightford called the accusations against her "beyond ridiculous." She said she followed what are considered standard business practices.
Illinois State Senator Kimberly Lightford accused of taking trips from Loretto Hospital
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