Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico asked about Save-A-Life Foundation investigation(s) by writer Lee Cary

Arne Duncan, Gery & Sunny Chico appear at 2003 Save-A-Life Foundation annual conference

E-mailed to gchico@chiconunes.com and brooke@gerychicoformayor.com 
Faxed to (312)463-1001

November 30, 2010

Gery Chico
Chico & Nunes, P.C.
333 West Wacker Drive Suite 1800
Chicago, IL 60606

Dear Mr. Chico,

I’m reporting about the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), a Chicago-area nonprofit. In November 2006, ABC7 Chicago reported a variety of false claims associated with the organization and its founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri. Since then, dozens of media reports have raised additional related concerns, such as a San Diego newspaper article this month that reported Ms. Spizzirri’s criminal record.

Since you and your wife Sunny were once associated with SALF, I’d appreciate your answers to the following questions.

1. SALF is reportedly under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General. Have you or has anyone you know been contacted by anyone connected with that investigation? If so, please provide details.

The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) awarded $3.33 million in federal grants to SALF. In financial reports submitted to the CDC, SALF stated that the money was used to provide first aid training classes to thousands of Chicago Public School (CPS) students. Last year, SALF’s founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri told the Chicago Tribune that her organization trained hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Chicago Schools students. Here’s a list of hundreds of Chicago schools in which SALF allegedly provided the training. (The list also highlights Chicago schools at which SALF allegedly trained thousands of students in a program funded by Ronald McDonald House Charities.)

However, in response to a federal subpoena and FOIA requests, CPS records fail to support these claims. In fact, CPS’s entire records re: SALF apparently consist of 22 invoices dating from 2000-2007 indicating that at best a few hundred people may have received training.

As described in a Bagwell for Congress press release last month, a public letter was sent by Tim Bagwell to the Inspector General of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) requesting an investigation to determine if the CDC millions were properly administered.

2. Do you recommend that the HHS Inspector General conduct such an investigation?

At a 1999 Chicago School Board meeting, in response to your question asking how much her organization’s first aid training program costs, Ms. Spizzirri stated, "It's at 75 cents a child. Except it's a dollar for the instructor." The 22 invoices show CPS paid SALF about $62,000 from 2000-2007. Again, however, CPS records indicate that at best a few hundred people may have received training.

3. Do you think that CPS Inspector General James M. Sullivan should initiate an investigation to determine if the $62,000 in public funds paid by CPS to SALF was properly administered?

Please feel free to add any related comments of any length. Thanks for your consideration and I look forward to receiving your answers.


Lee Cary
Writer, Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, the American Thinker

Cc: Tim Bagwell 

Click here for source page of the following materials. Click here to download a single file consisting of the following (and related) documents.

(7:35) Chico: "How many schools have you said that you've been in with this program?"
Carol J. Spizzirri: "I think we've been in a dozen we've completed."
Chico: "What's it cost?"
Spizzirri: "It's at 75 cents a child. Except it's a dollar for the instructor."
(9:00) Chico: "I don't think we can afford to do anything but do this (SALF program)."

Sunny Chico: "My husband Gery was instrumental in bringing Save-A-Life into the Chicago Schools"

100s of Chicago Schools where Save-A-Life claims to have provided first aid training classes

Chicago Public Schools complete records for the Save-A-Life Foundation: 22 skimpy invoices from 2000-2007)

Grant spending reports submitted by the Save-A-Life Foundation to the CDC, 2004-07