Lawsuit names White Sox owner, former governor

CHICAGO (AP) — The former head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority filed a lawsuit Monday against White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, claiming they conspired to fire her two years ago to stop her reforms at the public agency.

Perri Irmer, the agency’s former executive director, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago. It claims Reinsdorf and Thompson “sought to silence Perri Irmer and to stifle her efforts to protect Illinois taxpayers from Reinsdorf’s greed.”

Reinsdorf pressured Thompson to remove her when the former governor was chairman of the agency, according to the complaint, which alleges Reinsdorf opposed Irmer because she succeeded in getting the White Sox to pay the agency $1.2 million in yearly rent for the use of U.S. Cellular Field.

Thompson and a Reinsdorf spokesman denied the lawsuit’s claims, with Thompson calling the suit a “self-serving tirade.”

Irmer’s lawsuit, which seeks unspecified financial damages to cover her losses, includes biting language to describe Reinsdorf’s alleged clout.

Reinsdorf exercised “undue influence over former Governor Thompson and apparently over all the members of the ISFA Board of Directors who became complicit in allowing Reinsdorf to treat Cellular Field and the surrounding publicly owned lands as his personal fiefdom,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that the public agency has used taxpayer money to build and renovate U.S. Cellular Field and to build the Bacardi at the Park restaurant next door, but the White Sox organization has kept most of the revenue.

“The highly favorable terms granted to the White Sox in 1988 and intended to last until at least 2029 served to create a sense of entitlement on the part of White Sox Chairman Reinsdorf, who has repeatedly acted as though Cellular Field was a gift by the Illinois taxpayers to Reinsdorf and his team,” Irmer’s lawsuit contends.

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