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Illinois comptroller calls red-light camera program ‘broken and morally corrupt,’ plans to halt ticket collections

Published: January 6, 2020
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Susana Mendoza’s agency has been helping dozens of suburbs collect from red-light violators who haven’t paid up. But no longer. She’s urging towns to consider scrapping their red-light cameras altogether.

Since 2012, the Illinois Comptroller’s office has served as a sort of collection agency for communities that are trying to get motorists to pay their red-light tickets.

The comptroller’s tool: Deducting the amount owed in outstanding tickets from state-income tax refunds due to the violators — with about $11 million collected this way on behalf of 60 Chicago suburbs in 2019 alone — and forwarding most of the take to the towns while keeping a small cut.

But with federal investigators looking into red-light contractor SafeSpeed over allegations of pay-to-play — amid revelations about politically connected sales representatives for the company landing juicy commissions — Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said her agency will no longer perform this function.

“The comptroller’s office isn’t going to be in the business” of helping “a program that’s broken and morally corrupt,” Mendoza said in a recent interview.

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