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Kwame Raoul to return campaign donation from UNO contractor after questions raised

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State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) -- a possible Illinois Attorney General candidate -- accepted a $2,500 campaign contribution from a company that is at the center of the controversy over a state grant to UNO, a politically influential charter school operator.

After the Chicago Sun-Times asked questions about the donation, Raoul's committee said it would return the money.

"Out of an abundance of caution, especially as this investigation continues, we are returning the contribution," Hanah Jubeh, senior adviser of Raoul's campaign committee, said today.

The company, d'Escoto Inc., is a prolific campaign donor. However, Raoul accepted the $2,500 from d'Escoto Inc., just over two weeks ago -- long after the company had been put under the microscope, campaign records show. It was on the same day Gov. Quinn's administration cut off funding to the state's largest charter-school operator, United Neighborhood Organization, over insider deals involving d'Escoto that the state says violated terms of a $98 million state grant.

In an interview in April with the Sun-Times, Raoul said he didn't plan to focus on fund-raising until the session was over. Raoul has been tapped to head up concealed carry legislation in the Illinois Senate.
"I'm going to turn my attention to that as we conclude our legislative session. Fund-raising is the arduous but necessary task you have to tackle, when considering running for any office," Raoul said.

In February, Miguel d'Escoto, who was UNO's senior vice president of operations, resigned "by mutual agreement." Two of d'Escoto's brothers were hired as contractors on state-funded school construction projects in Chicago.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity began investigating UNO in response to reports in the Sun-Times that revealed that d'Escoto Inc. and Reflection Window Co. have been paid a total of $8.5 million out of the state grant. D'Escoto Inc. is owned by Federico "Fred" d'Escoto. Reflection Window is owned by Rodrigo d'Escoto.

With reporting by Dan Mihalopoulos

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