HUTSONVILLE, IL -
I thought we could quit writing about Roger now that he is no longer in office, but the information keeps flowing. A few weeks ago, we published a couple of articles (here and here) on illegal campaign donations by the City of Paris to the Roger Eddy Campaign fund. When the information became public knowledge the Eddy campaign refunded the donation without actually admitting to any wrong-doing by calling it a “reimbursement for a golf outing entry” instead of a “refund of donation.”
It then comes as no surprise that an organization who cannot acknowledge receiving an illegal donation (even when shown the cancelled check) would once again be involved in what clearly appears to be another misuse of campaign funds.
This particular “reimbursement for legal expenses” was to the Hutsonville CUSD#1 in the amount of $2000.00. I’m going to try and explain the reimbursement by asking two questions:
Q. Why would a school district pay legal expenses for the campaign of an Illinois State Representative?
A. Initial review tells us the school district did not pay legal expenses for the Roger Eddy Campaign – Though it did pay legal expenses incurred from the school board and superintendent’ decision to hire legal counsel to respond to Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking information pertaining only to the school district and/or superintendent. CUSD#1 also used Public Funds to "research" an Illinois Taxpayer who submitted a FOIA request - that action could be a crime, and may be criminal, we will research it further and publish a separate article on the subject.
Q. Why would a campaign fund reimburse legal expenses incurred by a school district?
A. There is no justification for the Roger Eddy campaign to reimburse the school district for legal expenses that did not require action by the campaign.
In a letter from the Assistant Superintendent, Julie Kraemer, it stated that Roger did not want the students or district taxpayers to have to pay for the legal expenses incurred responding to the requests.
Roger Eddy, an educated School Superintendent, former State Representative, School Law instructor for EIU, and future leader of the IASB who is going to train our future school boards, and he doesn't want the "students" to have to pay? Why on earth would the students have to pay anything pertaining to Freedom of Information Requests for the school?
He not only reimbursed the actual legal expenses of the school district, but additional monies for other costs. So is it safe to assume Roger instead wanted his campaign contributors to pay for the schools legal expenses incurred responding to the requests?
Investigating a FOIA Requestor?
In addition to using campaign funds to pay for legal expenses incurred by the school district, the invoice provided from the school’s legal team contained surprising information. One line item from December 9, 2011 listed “Research re: FOIA requester – political motivation.” Does this mean the Hutsonville CUSD #1, under the direction of Roger Eddy and others, used Public Funds to “research” the political motivations of a FOIA requester? Is it a common practice down in Hutsonville to investigate FOIA requesters before responding to the request? Would they provide different information to different requestors? I don’t believe the Illinois Freedom of Information Act authorizes the investigation of requestors (has something to do with civil rights violations and retaliation) – and I don’t think the taxpayers of Hutsonville were aware this was happening.
A FOIA request is simply a request for public documents. Does the School District have something to hide where they need legal assistance to respond to the request?
Whatever the motivation may be, this is clearly an inappropriate use of campaign funds and arguably an inappropriate action taken by the Hutsonville School District and Superintendent to spend taxpayer money to research anyone requesting public records. The lawyers invoice outlines "political motivation" however that doesn't make it OK to use campaign money to cover school expenses.
Stay tuned for future updates on who was being researched with tax payer dollars.
Public Act 78-1183 Campaign Disclosure (5/9-1.5 )
FOIA Request on the $2000 Legal Expense Reimbursement