Mayor Brandon Johnson Faces Scrutiny Over $30K Haircuts And Makeup Expenses

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Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is facing scrutiny over his $30,000 hair and make-up budget, with some amounts seemingly unpaid to the establishments listed as recipients. Johnson’s campaign advisor, however, said that the discrepancy was a result of a vendor who put the wrong name in the disclosure filing sent to the State of Illinois. 

As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, in response to questions about a $4,000 payment to Anthony Jones Salon, which the proprietor told the outlet he never received, Bill Neidhardt, Johnson’s campaign advisor, told the outlet: “The vendor that does our expenditure reports, we gave them the name of the business and they wrote down the wrong one.” Neidhardt also indicated that the filing “will be amended” to reflect that the money was actually spent with AJ Styles Barber and Beauty Salon. 

According to elections board records obtained by the outlet, the progressive mayor pays for his personal grooming appointments with money contributed by supporters of Johnson’s Friends of Brandon Johnson campaign fund. Over the past year, payments for grooming, which includes haircuts and skincare, totaled in excess of $30,000. 

Ahead of 2023, the payments to Denise Milloy’s Makeup Majic, owned by self-described “skin-care enthusiast” and make-up artist Denise Milloy, were listed as “Candidate makeup for TV, Candidate makeup for debate, Candidate makeup, and Makeup retainer.” Post-election, the payments were only listed as “event expenses” and neither Milloy nor Johnson spoke to the paper about it. Milloy’s only comment was that she was “not at liberty” to discuss either her work or the money she received for said work. Milloy received the majority of the $30,000 from Johnson’s fund, while $4,000 went to AJ Styles Barber and Beauty Salon.

on the one hand, grooming services aren’t $25 an hour so this doesn’t seem like an especially outlandish amount of money to me for a year’s worth of on-retainer work for a team of people (article says not just him).

on the other hand, man this dude is so, SO bad at optics. https://t.co/BJsxP3Nxbr

— jena (@jenawithonen) June 7, 2024

Neidhardt clarified that it was the mayor’s policy not to spend taxpayer money in a prepared statement.

“The mayor does not spend taxpayer dollars in preparation for the many public appearances and events he attends every day,” the statement read. “Instead, he is using his own campaign funds to pay Black- and women-owned businesses a fair wage in compensation for their work in preparing the mayor and individuals associated with the campaign for public appearances, events, media segments, and other availabilities. Hair and makeup services are commonplace among high-ranking public officials.”

Their report on Johnson’s spending on hair and make-up follows a previous report about allegations of improper contributions to Mayor Johnson’s campaign. Earlier in 2024, Chicago’s Board of Ethics investigated contributions to Johnson’s campaign, leading Johnson to return a $2,000 donation from lobbyist Anthony Bruno after the investigation concluded.

Ald. Brendan Reilly went as far as to criticize Johnson’s backing from the Chicago Teachers Union, without mentioning either by name, telling the outlet, “In some cases, some of our colleagues are wholly owned subsidiaries of an organization that literally bankrolled their entire campaign. And if this is really about getting money and the influence of it out of politics, it seems like we’re nibbling around the edges here.”

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