Voluntary Potential Conflict of Interest Disclosure Gains Momentum as a Campaign Issue

One of the roles McHenry County Blog plays is alerting daily newspapers of stories they otherwise might not think of.

This might be one of those articles.

The Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water came up with an idea to help remove the suspicion that many members of the public have that county board members use their office for personal gain.

If you tell me people you have talked to haven’t brought this up, I’d suggest you are not very deeply into local citizenship.

The questionnaire idea was presented at the committee level of the McHenry County Board, received a chilly reception, and sent to the State’s Attorney’s Office for reviews, that is, to see if any or all of it would be legal for a non-Home Rule unit of local government to impose upon its officials.

Then, District 3 challenger Craig Steagall decided to fill out the form and submit it to ALAW.

District 2 challenger Donna Kurtz followed suit.

As of now, seven challengers and three incumbents have submitted such information about their personal financial situation.

Ten in all.

Considering Steagall is in District 2 and has demonstrated deep enough pockets to buy full page ads in the Northwest Herald, perhaps it is not surprising that two of his opponents—former County Board member Nick Provenzano and incumbent Barb Wheeler– have decided to make voluntary disclosure.

In District 5, incumbent Tina Hill has filed. In District 6, Mary McCann is among three candidates who have made disclosure.

So, three incumbents running for re-election are willing to stand up for reform.

Barb Wheeler

Tina Hill

Mary McCann

And, they are all women.  Does that tend to re-enforce my analysis that voters think women are less likely to be crooks than men?

Only three, it should be noted. They deserve to have their photos here, don’t you think?

And no one not up for reelection has yet to file a form.

Below is ALAW’s press release:

CANDIDATES DISCLOSURES KEEP COMING

Ten candidates for County Board in the upcoming primary have now voluntarily sent ALAW statements pursuant to the ALAW conflicts disclosure ordinance. Disclosure have been received from

  • Donna Kurtz (R), District 2;
  • Craig Steagall (R), District 3;
  • Nick Provenzano (R), District 3;
  • Barb Wheeler (R), District 3;
  • Jeff Thirtyacre (D), District 4;
  • Tina Hill (R), District 5;
  • Frank Wedig (Green Party), District 5;
  • Diane Evertsen (R), District 6;
  • Mary McCann (R), District 6;
  • Richard Draper (R), District 6.

(Incumbents are shown in bold face type; party identification has been added.)

The disclosures and the ordinance are both posted on the ALAW web site here.

ALAW expects to receive more disclosures over the next few days and challenges all candidates file statements.

There is no deadline for filing statements, but it is hoped that all candidates will file prior to the February 2 primary election.

ALAW presented the draft ordinance to the County Board on December 1, 2009.

It is currently under review by the McHenry County States Attorney’s office. If passed, the ordinance will require up front disclosure of elected and appointed county official’s real estate holdings and business relationships with the county.

“Our intent is to dispel the perception that our county officials sometimes place personal interest over their duty to their constituents. That idea has been an undercurrent in our county for a long time, and has recently become more widely expressed by the general public,”

said ALAW Director Emily Berendt. “With “transparency in government’ being such a key issue statewide right now, and the primary election approaching, the timing was right to present this ordinance.”

ALAW President Patricia Kennedy said,

“This was certainly unexpected but is a wonderful affirmation of our belief that full disclosure is as welcome by these candidates as it is by the public.”

Alliance for Land Agriculture and Water
PO Box 1021, Woodstock
Contact: Patricia Kennedy
815-943-7223

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Come to think of it, this voluntary disclosure idea probably has as it precedent the voluntary release of income tax forms by Illinois Democratic Party politician Paul Simon.  I remember reading his Atlantic Monthly article in my Aunt Louise Stevens copy while visiting my grandparents in Maryland several years before moving to Illinois in 1958.  His article about the blatant crookedness in Springfield was my introduction to Illinois politics.


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