SOUTH BEND, Ind. — New campaign filings in St. Joseph County show Democrat South Bend City Clerk Candidate Bianca Tirado spending campaign contributions on every day living expenses such as gas, groceries and restaurants. She also appears to have used the funds for luxury items, such as a tablet and data plan with Verizon Wireless.
The following are just some of the uses of campaign contributions according to Tirado’s CFA-4 campaign filings for January 1st – April 7th, 2023
March 3rd: Brunos Pizza — $37.94
February 27th: Cheesecake Factory — $66.14
February 27th: Taste of India — $34.72
March 1st: Meijer — $14.94
March 6th: Trader Joes — $117.57
February 27th: Speedway — $41.81
February 23rd: Always Open — $38.20
According to the filings, Tirado also spent $856.57 on a tablet and data plan with Verizon Wireless on February 24th.
SECRET CONTRACT WITH THE CITY
In December of 2022, a REAL News Michiana investigation obtained the secret contract of a Tirado had with the City of South Bend, hiring her to do the job of the South Bend City Clerk. That investigation also uncovered questionable invoices, charging the City of South Bend more than $11,500 for a month of work. The contract was never seen or approved by the entire Common Council. In fact, it appears council President Sharon McBride and Vice President Sheila Niezgodski are the only two who even knew about it. It also appears none of the other council members were aware of the invoicing either.
“This is a scandal.” Democrat Common Council Member, Henry Davis Jr., said to RNM at the time. “Let’s not push it aside. The council deserves more. The city needs more. The council leadership allowed this to happen. All parties need to apologize and/or resign.”
“I have never seen the contract or any invoices (prior to you providing them).” 5th District Councilman, Eli Wax (R), stated in an email in December. “To my knowledge, the contract was never voted on by the whole Council.”
The contract, which took effect in April of 2022, had Tirado acting as the defacto City Clerk in her scope of duties. However, South Bend citizens are responsible for electing their City Clerk. The current Clerk is Dawn Jones.
As stated above, Tirado billed the City of South Bend for nearly double the agreed to rate in December of 2022. Her invoice is also extremely questionable. She lists “emails” and “logistics” with little detail, claiming those took 8 hours. Every item listed also shows she worked an 8 hour day.
“With regard to the amount of the contract: $60 per hour does seem high, but I don’t know what market rate for similar services would be.” Council Member Wax told RNM. “I also don’t know why there is an invoice for greater than $6,000, if the contract states that monthly fee would not exceed $6,000. Finally, with regard to the invoices themselves, the lack of detail does raise some questions for me. I look forward to explanations from Council leadership regarding these questions.”
The contract states, “The parties agree that the Consultant will be compensated at a monthly rate not to exceed $6,000 a month. It is understood that if performed hourly, the services to be provided would approximate $60 per hour for hours approved by the Common Council… Upon receipt of the Consultant’s monthly summary of services, the Common Council may request greater detail from the Consultant as it deems appropriate.”
Despite that, Tirado charged the city $11,520 for work done between 11/18/2022 and 12/20/2022. She claimed to work 8 hour days for 24 work days that month. And, most of the council members weren’t able to request greater detail about her work and billing because the invoices were never provided to them, not to mention nobody had seen the contract either.
Tirado left her job as the Chief Deputy Clerk for the City of South Bend in April to work as the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the South Bend / Elkhart Regional Partnership, a non-profit that works to facilitate economic growth in Michiana. Sources tell RNM Tirado resigned from that position on November 4th to focus on running for City Clerk in 2023.
Multiple sources with the City of South Bend tell RNM that there is a major rift between local Democrats and current City Clerk, Dawn Jones. Sources say city leaders like Mayor James Mueller, Common Council President Sharon McBride and Vice President Sheila Niezgodski have been pushing for Tirado to run for City Clerk against Jones and that they may have colluded to create this position to help her pad her campaign coffers.
“(She was paid) $11,000 for sending emails! She’s making half of my salary in less than a month and she only did that because she was allowed to and told to by the council president.” Council Member Henry Davis Jr. said. “They’re funding her upcoming campaign with taxpayer dollars. That is fraud.”
According to her campaign filings, Mueller’s campaign donated $11,000 to Tirado’s as well.
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