EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –
The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform was permitted to enter an amicus curiae brief in support of the Illinois Attorney General and her decision to not allow public funds for former Edgar County State’s Attorney Michael McFatridge’ defense in civil suits.
Those that have been following us the past year or so should find this document with familiar subjects. We have used a lot of these points in our statements to the various public bodies in Edgar County.
Even the Attorney General Binding Opinion against the Edgar County Airport Board included a quote that I used during public session at the Electoral Board, and used to have it at the top of our main webpage. “To what avail is an open door to the public if the proceedings are secret. The eye can see, the ear can hear, but secrecy conceals all.” IL Att’y Gen, 1933
This article is more about the content of the brief and how it pertains to every decision a public official makes and should be required reading.
“Public Officials have an Absolute Duty to safeguard the Public Fisc.”
They cited the Illinois Constitution, Article VII, which we have used in statements many times: “public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purpose”. That the funds belong to the public, not the public officials.
This needs to be driven home and driven home hard. The extent of self dealing we have come across the past 2 years is staggering. Airplane tickets for spouses, expensive meals, payment for meetings that never occured, falsified mileage reimbursments, deputies buying guns from the former sheriff, credit cards for family vacations to Disney World, credit cards for continuing legal education by a mayor, election campaign donations, and many, many more.
Please take the time to read this paper, as it makes a good argument for forcing public officials that intentionally and willfully violate our laws to provide and fund their own legal defense. Why should the people have to pay to defend the illegal act that initiated the suits?
As far as the Attorney General having the autority to decline defending a public official, a State’s Attorney has that same authority at the local level. A State’s Attorney has three clients: the People, the Public Official, and the State. It is his duty to determine which party is correct, and then represent that party – this mean the State’s Attorney can prosecute FOIA and OMA violations by public officials, in support of the People. Not only can he do that, but it is his DUTY to do that (if he believes there was a violation). He is not bound to defend a public official if he believes that official violated the law.