Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is Sen. Steans Lying About Evergreen Healthcare Involvement?

Heather Steans
Sen. Steans
We think she might be. Illinois State Senator Heather Steans has said some odd things about her involvement with a troubled local nursing home facility and the company that owns it. Chicago News Bench has found troubling connections between a member of Evergreen Healthcare Center's management and Heather Steans, as well as Steans’s father Harrison and sister Jennifer.

UPDATE: Family Settles Bed Sore Lawsuit Against Troubled Nursing Home Oak Lawn Patch, Jan. 15, 2013

On June 16 it was reported by the Chicago Tribune that “State health authorities have moved to revoke the license of a southwest suburban nursing home part-owned by state Sen. Heather Steans because of repeated citations for serious patient neglect.”

Trib reporters David Jackson and Gary Marx wrote that “Steans does not have any operational role in the facility, Evergreen Health Care Center in Evergreen Park.” Okay, that’s believable. But they also wrote that Steans “said she has drawn little or no income from what she described as her small ownership stake in companies that manage the home.”

That's where Heather Steans leads us into the realm of the not-so-believable. In fact, Steans seemed to contradict herself in the June 16 Tribune article, which said that Steans said the facility had "taken corrective action."

Poor Heather Steans said she did "not have any operational role in the facility,” but she had the quick answer that the facility had "taken corrective action." How would she have known that? She might have made a phone call. As a state senator who claims to care about nursing homes, one would think that she would regularly call management to find out what's going on, and maybe even drop in now and then to make sure everything is good for the residents. Apparently, that didn't happen.

Or she might have heard it directly from Neele E. Stearns, Jr. (That’s Stearns, with an “r”. Heather’s last name has no “r”.) We’ll learn about Neele in a moment.

On June 30, Marx and Jackson wrote a followup article. They reported that Sen. Heather Steans “divested her ownership stake in a troubled southwest suburban nursing home that has faced repeated citations for serious patient neglect, including medical failures that allegedly contributed to two patients' deaths.”

Neele Stearns, Jr., is the Chairman of Financial Investments Corporation (FIC), FIC is, in effect, the Steans’s company. Heather’s sister Jennifer is FIC’s President. Harrison Steans is FIC’s Chairman of the Executive Committee. He formed FIC in 1967 for the purpose of acquiring the Hyde Park Bank & Trust Company. (

Neele Stearns, Jr. is also listed as management for “Evergreen Healthcare Center LLC” (see graphic at left; click to enlarge).

Neele Stearns, Jr. is not only close to Harrison and Jennifer Steans through FIC in Chicago. In Arizona, FIC Advent Corporation listed its directors as Jennifer W. Steans, Harrison I. Steans and Neele E. Stearns, Jr. FIC Advent Corp. was created for purposes of real estate and seems to have been dissolved in March, 2010 and is "not in good standing" with the State of Arizona. See here, here, here and here.

Neele also sits on Friends of Heather Steans, and contributed $3,000 to her from 2007 through 2009. Heather is a "progressive" Democrat, clearly not the kind of candidate to whom Neele would normally contribute. Has Neele Stearns, Jr. given assistance to Heather Steans only as a favor to Harrison Steans?

Neele Stearns, Jr. is a conservative and has donated to conservative politicians. He seems to favor conservatives/Republicans and has donated to McCain-Palin, Mitt Romney and the IL GOP. However, Stearns served/serves on the Friends of Heather Steans committee.

Neele is also listed as management for Evergreen Healthcare Realty, LLC (see graphic at left; click to enlarge). We are not aware of any involvement by Heather Steans with that company.

None of the Steans - Harrison, Jennifer or Heather - are the type of people to carelessly toss their money away. It pushes the limits of credibility to think that any of them, including Heather, would invest in any company that would not give them some kind of return for their money. That return could be financial, or influence, or both. Heather Steans told the Tribune on June 16, however, that she “has no operational role in Evergreen Healthcare Center” and gets “little or no income from what she described as her small ownership.”

If that’s the case, why would she have invested in Evergreen? For fun? Out of boredom?

Furthermore, we have seen that Neele Stearns, Jr. is close to the Steans family. Are we to believe that Stearns would not have said anything about the pending problems faced by Evergreen Healthcare Center, LLC to Harrison, Jennifer or Heather? And if he did mention it his coworkers Harrison and Jennifer, would they not have said something to Heather? Maybe, maybe not, but this raises a big question: What did any of the Steans know, and when did they know it? If they truly knew nothing, what does that say about how well the Steans can trust Neele Stearns?

Heather Steans filed her Statement of Economic Interests with the Illinois Secretary of State on April 29, 2009. The statement asks filers to “List the name and instrument of ownership in any which the ownership interest held by the person at the date of filing is in excess of $5,000 fair market value or from which dividends in excess of $1,200 were derived during the preceding calendar year....”

She listed “Evergreen Healthcare Realty LLC” (on her Attachment A), and listed her “Instrument of Ownership” as “Membership Interest in LLC.” She listed “Evergreen Healthcare Realty LLC” (on her Attachment C), and listed “Position Held” as “Investor.”

It is important to note that Heather Steans was required to list both Evergreen entities only because her ownership interest was “in excess of $5,000 fair market value” and/or because she got “dividends in excess of $1,200....during the preceding calendar year” (2008).

Yet, she claims that her involvement with Evergreen Health Care was minimal and that she has “drawn little or no income” from her investments of at least $5,000. Perhaps she thinks these are insignificant amounts. Perhaps Heather Steans, a wealthy woman from a wealthy family, is just putting what would be considered a large amount of money by the average person into her rich girl perspective. Perhaps.

The ties to Evergreen, then, run deep and long. The tale that Heather Steans is spinning is difficult to swallow. If we are to believe her, she invested but not a lot of money, she doesn’t know what’s going on at a nursing home that she owned a part of, and the investment didn’t return any real gains to her. Perhaps she could offer you a good deal on a bridge in Brooklyn, too.