Dr. Jeffrey Leef, a GOP candidate for Illinois’ Seventh District congressional seat, is so determined to make a difference as a public official that he plans to donate a large portion of his salary from Congress to charity if elected.
“There’s a new department here at the (University of Chicago) – a diversity department here that I would want to give half to,” Leef told West Cook News.
Leef, who has worked at the University of Chicago for 27 years, said another idea he has considered is an initiative that could be awarded to the most impoverished high schools in the district.
“Another charity that I’d like to give to is Opportunity Knocks, which is, I think, based out of Oak Park,” Leef said.
Opportunity Knocks is a nonprofit organization that serves young people with developmental disabilities in Oak Park, Forest Park and River Forest.
Leef, 55, has been a resident of River Forest for more than 12 years and lived in Forest Park before that for 10 years. He grew up in the Westchester Hillside area.
The annual salary for members of Congress is $174,000.
Members of Congress also receive an annual allowance to cover expenses related to their congressional duties, including "official office expenses, including staff, mail, travel between a member's district or state and Washington, D.C., and other goods and services."
As of 2014, the amount allotted for personnel was $944,671 for each member of Congress.
In Illinois, the topic of salaries for state legislators has become a hot-button issue, given the state’s financial mess -- so much so that Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger planned to delay the paychecks of elected officials last month due to the budget impasse and close to $6.5 billion in past-due bills.
Munger insisted she wasn’t trying to take punitive measures against elected officials, who have thus far failed to pass a budget for fiscal year 2016.
Salaries for Illinois’ six constitutional officers and 177 General Assembly members total approximately $1.3 million a month, or $15.6 million annually.
Leef announced his candidacy in April after the March primaries, realizing that a large number of elected positions were going unopposed. This is the first time the radiologist has sought public office. Leef will face off against long-time Democratic incumbent Danny Davis in the November general election.