Illinois' 106th Legislative Race Raises Ethics Concern

                                     ---   Bennett Campaign Questioned  ---

In the Illinois House race for the 106th legislative district, a violation of the State Officials and Employees Act may have triggered an investigation into state ethics laws.

In question is the campaign disclosures of Tom Bennett of Gibson City, one of five Republican candidates seeking the legislative seat in the area covering east-central Illinois.

WGFA News discovered through the five candidates D-1 Statement of Organization documents filed with the Illinois State Board Elections that the ethics violations occurred in March and again June of 2011 when a former campaign manager may have performed election work on taxpayers time.

State Board of Elections records show former campaign treasurer Andrew Killian, while working for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS),  used office time and equipment to send documents in support of Tom Bennett’s campaign.

Under Illinois law, state employees are not allowed to politick on the state clock.  The ethics act states, “political activity is prohibited during any compensated time; employees shall not misappropriate state property or resources for the benefit of any campaign for elective office or political organization.”

The State Board of Elections records reveal documents for Bennett’s campaign committee were faxed to the Board of Elections during state working hours. The fax number, WGFA’s investigation found, was clearly at the top of the faxed page which was sent from the DCFS office in Urbana.  The documents are signed by DCFS employee Andrew Killian.

WGFA Newsinquiries about the potential ethics violations were directed to the Governmental Ethics Act & Employees Ethics Act in the Office of Secretary of State.  Further investigative questions about possible misconduct—WGFA News learned—could be directed to the Inspector General’s Office.

On a related note--- a former top aide to Governor Pat Quinn was slapped with a $1,000 fine for doing campaign work in June of 2011.  Carolyn Brown Hodge, a former deputy chief of staff in Quinn’s office, resigned after her potential ethics violations surfaced in a Chicago Sun-Times report.

Bennett responded, telling WGFA News, “it (the incident) was not intentional; we certainly want to do what’s right.  We can only learn.”

Bennett said "in a campaign of this size you depend on volunteers and sometimes a few things like this may be overlooked."  But, he said ," I take full responsibility; this is my campaign."  

The Ford County resident said "a mistake was made; transparency is important here and we can just move forward."

Bennett is one of five GOP candidates in the 106th House race.  Other candidates include Josh Harms of Watseka, Scott McCoy and Brian Gabor, both of Pontiac, and Richard Thomas of Dwight.  


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