Meeting this afternoon at the Administrative Building, the McHenry County Ethics Commission voted 4-0 that Cal Skinner’s ethics complaint against Undersheriff Andy Zinke was not sufficient.
The Commission gave no idea to the public or the parties why they reached that decision. All discussion was behind closed doors.
No Commission member offered a reason for his or her vote against finding the complaint adequate to proceed.
Zinke was represented by law partners Mark Gummerson and Rebecca Lee.
Gummerson argued that he should be allowed to put on a defense (he used the phrase “evidentiary hearing”) for Zinke, but the Commission only allowed his verbal comments and a written motion which was not provided me until after the hearing had concluded.
To put a chilling effort on others who might be thinking about filing Ethics Complaints for campaigning on county time, Gummerson said he was going to ask “for sanctions of up to $5,000 for filing a frivolous complaint.”
After being denied what Gummerson called “due process,” he said he had “witnesses who will rebut anything that Mr. Skinner has put on.”
After the decision, Sheriff Keith Nygren said that he had directed Zinke to send the email to all Board members because I was denigrating his Department.
Gummerson claimed, “Mr. Skinner sent an anonymous email with a picture to each of the twenty-four County Board members.”
Later he seemed to soften that charge by asking, “Did Mr. Skinner send that photograph to the County Board members?”
Gummerson urged the Ethics Commission “not be a pawn in Mr. Skinner’s political campaign.”
Another of Gummerson points was that I had not specified any specific subsection found in the Ethics ordinance.
When Gummerson was finished Lee argued that my complaint did “not allege that this email campaigns in any active way”
“[Zinke} justifiably felt compelled to respond to the picture”
“His reference …of his being a candidate is [not politically prohibited] activity”
Gus Philpott asked and was given permission to address the Commission.
He asked whether Gummerson’s representation of Zinke was as “Undersheriff or as a future candidate?”
The question went unanswered.
Members of the local Ethics Commission are
- Thomas B. Spencer, Chairman
- Scott Hartman
- Melissa M. Hernandez
- Cherie R. Rickert
- John White
Hartman did not attend the meeting.
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Woodstock Advocate Editor Gus Philpott wrote two stories on the hearing entitled, Ethics Commission blinks and “Dilbert on ethics – don’t miss it.” Keven Craver of the Northwest Herald wrote a story entitled, “Ethics commission tosses charge against McHenry County sheriff candidate.” Zane Seipler posted this: “Open Letter to Cal Skinner.” The First Electric Newspaper weighed in with “County Ethics Commission Exonerates Zinke.”
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You can read Zinke’s email and see the photos I took of him at the Crystal Lake 4th of July Parade in the reprinted article below:
Below is an email from Undersheriff Andy Zinke sent from his place of work…even though he talks about his “candidacy” and “my run for office.”
I believe campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime is against the law.
(Sentences in some paragraphs have separated into additional paragraphs to make the email easier to read. Nothing has been removed.)
The first of five photos of Andy Zinke at the Crystal Lake Parade.
From: Andrew Zinke <[email protected]>
To: [McHenry County Board Members]
Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 3:40 PM
Recently, I was victimized by a local blogger who posted a picture of me that he created a false story around.
[See original story on Sunday, July 7: “Politicians Appear at Crystal Lake Independence Day Parade.”
[See follow-up story on Monday, July 8: “McHenry County Undersheriff Andy Zinke’s Giving the Finger in Crystal Lake Parade Brings Comments.”
[The five photos I took of Zinke are posted within his email.]
Many of you have had pictures of yourselves taken out of context, or in a negative position, posted on a blog.
Photo number two of five taken of Andy Zinke at the Crystal Lake Parade.
After being targeted and victimized, I can now say I understand why so many people loath him.
Other than to acknowledge that I was apparently holding the roof of a vehicle with my middle finger instead of all my fingers, there isn’t much more to say.
I received cheers and applause throughout the parade from hundreds of people on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office and I was honored to be a part of such a rich tradition. I have received several calls that you are now receiving pictures at your home or place of business.
The third of five photos of Andy Zinke at the Independence Day Parade in Crystal Lake.
Since announcing my candidacy [emphasis added], I have been accused by local bloggers of working with a drug cartel, corruption, and now, publicly driving down the Crystal Lake Parade giving everyone “the finger.”
The personal attacks by my opponent and his supporters on my family, my friends, my wife, my children, my in-laws, co-workers, and county board members is despicable and have no place in a legitimate race.
This type of disingenuous behavior is troubling in so many ways. It is mean spirited and takes away from the real issues facing McHenry County. Please know I remain steadfast in my commitments to both the Sheriff’s Office and McHenry County as a whole.
The fourth of five photos taken of Andy Zinke last Sunday.
During my 25 year career of chasing and apprehending criminals nothing has ever been so dangerous as my run for office. [emphasis added] I have not publicly commented or lowered myself to the depths in which my opponent and his supporters operate.
I will remain open, honest and ethical; of that you can be assured.
The fifth of five photos taken of Andy Zinke at Crystal Lake’s Independence Day Parade.
I know many of you have been victimized by similar lies and accusations and I respect your professionalism and guidance throughout the political process.
I would like to thank you for your words of encouragement and support.
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I only cited two places where Zinke was obviously campaigning. On his blog, Zane Seipler found a lot more.
Take a look.