Dolton Mayor Tiffany Henyard billed wrong taxpayers nearly $10K for pricey political junket

Dolton Mayor Tiffany Henyard went to Washington. But who is footing the bill?

A FOX 32 investigation found that the controversial south suburban politician went on a pricey political junket that got billed to the wrong taxpayers — and critics said it might be illegal.

Henyard was in Washington D.C. in mid-January as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Winter Meeting, along with mayors from hundreds of communities across the country.

Part of the meeting included a White House tour with brief remarks from President Joe Biden. Henyard live-streamed part of her visit on her Facebook page, then later published a slickly produced music video showing highlights of her tour and meeting with the president.

It was a big moment for a mayor from a relatively small suburb of about 20,000 people. The problem is that Henyard billed the trip to the wrong taxpayers.

"These appropriations are misappropriations," said veteran municipal lawyer Burt Odelson, who represents Dolton trustees opposed to Henyard. "Every time I say I can't believe she would do something, here comes another."

FOX 32 showed Odelson credit card records we obtained showing expenditures for the Washington trip. Those expenditures include $5,000 to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, plane tickets for Henyard and Assistant Keith Freeman for $718 apiece, hotel rooms at the Washington Hilton for over $1000 each and a $629 rental car. The total cost to taxpayers? $9,167.

However, there's a catch: those taxpayers don't live in Dolton, where Henyard is mayor.

"The township residents are paying for her fun," said Odelson as he reviewed the credit card statements.

Indeed, the credit card used to pay for the mayor's conference is from Thornton Township, a completely separate government body where Henyard also serves as township supervisor. 

"There's no reason for anyone from a township to go to a mayors' conference," said Odelson. "A mayors' conference is a mayors' conference for mayors!"

FOX 32 showed the credit card statement to Thornton Township trustee Chris Gonzalez. 

"This is a Thornton Township credit card. Yet, there are payments going to a mayors' conference. Does that make any sense to you?" FOX 32 asked Gonzalez. 

"No, it really doesn't," he responded. "But unfortunately, this is kinda what we see going on for a while now."

Gonzalez said he's frustrated by the lack of transparency about the township's bills and credit cards, which are rarely detailed when trustees vote on the bills. 

"That's one of the reasons I vote no when we go through our board packets. Some of the stuff you don't know exactly what it's for. And then when you ask a question there's no answer," said Gonzalez.


Stephanie Wiedeman, a former Thornton Township employee who was fired by Henyard, obtained the credit card statements through an open records request.

Wiedeman said Henyard's dual roles as Mayor of Dolton and Supervisor of Thornton Township, two separate government entities, are constantly being blurred. 

"I have found bills that were made out to the Village of Dolton that were paid with a Thornton Township check," said Wiedeman. "It's hard to decipher what is Dolton and what is township because she blends them so carelessly."

Wiedeman and others believe Henyard is using township funds because Dolton is broke. 

Trustees in Dolton estimate the village is as much as $5 million in the red. In part, they say, because of massive spending by Henyard on out-of-town trips, her police security detail, endless lawsuits and overuse of credit cards. All of which are now the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation at the village and township. 

Within the past several weeks, the FBI has served multiple subpoenas on both Dolton and Thornton Township requesting a massive trove of documents, including credit card statements and travel records.

Odelson said he wouldn't be surprised if the FBI was looking at the Henyard's trip to Washington on the wrong taxpayer's dime. 

"Misappropriations of funds for personal use? Yes, it's a crime," said Odelson.

Gonzalez said he warned Henyard when she was appointed supervisor two years ago to be careful not to mix business between the two government entities. 

"It's not that hard. If it's for Dolton, Dolton pays for it. If it's for Thornton Township, Thornton Township pays for it," said Gonzalez.

FOX 32 reached out to both Henyard and Keith Freeman, who holds the Thornton Township credit card on which the charges appear. Neither have responded to our questions.