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April 25, 2024

AG inquiring into the Clark County Electoral Board –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On February 6, 2015


The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor is looking into allegations that the Clark County Electoral Board violated the Open Meetings Act by not deliberating in public on their recent petition objection hearings.

I filed a complaint alleging the board did not deliberate in public. My purpose was to obtain a determination by the AG on whether the OMA was violated when the board attorney circulated from one member to the next, discussing and gathering their information and opinions, then produced the findings, all within around 3 hours of the hearings.

This same situation happened in the Edgar County Electoral Board Hearings back in 2013, and it was never satisfactorily resolved.

There are already AG opinions stating that chain emails, and chain telephone conversations violate the Act, and I am simply seeking a determination that equates those situations with this one where the attorney (or anyone for that matter) goes from one board member to the next, discusses and gathers the information, produces a written decision, and finally gets voted on with effectively no deliberation conducted in public.

The OMA specifically states in the opening paragraph that “In order that the people shall be informed, the General Assembly finds and declares that it is the intent of this Act to ensure that the actions of public bodies be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.

Allegation and AG Letter below:

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  • Virgil
    Posted at 11:53h, 06 February

    What no citizens arrest? Good luck ever pulling that off again for OMA violations without getting in trouble for it. You were very lucky pulling that stunt. Looks like you actually read the statute this time and are doing it the way the law says. You do, in fact, need the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor to make this determination…you cannot do it on your own.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 13:11h, 06 February

      LOL @ Virgil – If the need arises again I will certainly conduct a Citizen’s Arrest on a Board for OMA violations. There was no luck to the last time, it was legal and warranted. I have read the statute, and a “Request for Review” is only one of the ways to get a determination of an alleged violation. This was not a cut-and-dry situation, which is why I punted it to the AG’s office. Filing a civil suit is another option available, but like I said, this was not a cut-and-dry situation. Likewise with a citizen’s arrest while witnessing a crime in progress – I was not absolutely convinced a crime occurred with this, which is why I filed with the AG – to let them decide. Rest assured, if a board refuses to allow any public comment at a meeting in which I am attending, there will definitely be another citizen’s arrest. Public comment is a statutory right.

      There is no “need” for the AG to determine this – I could have taken it to court and let a judge decide. However, if the public were to be denied public comment, I most definitely could determine a crime occurring – all on my own – without the AG’s assistance.

      • Dave L.
        Posted at 14:00h, 06 February

        LOLOL@Virgil…..Stunt??? The only stunt at that park board meeting that night was by the park district attorney!! Go back and read what our own sheriff had to say about the way things were handled by Mr. Kraft that night! I was at that meeting, he did it right….in my opinion, stupid people do not want to try to argue with Mr. Kraft…he is a lot smarter than people think!

  • Hello and Goodbye Kitty
    Posted at 15:00h, 06 February

    Uh…Virgil…when a citizen finds a violation of law they are entitled to make the arrest. You forget the sheriff showed up and agreed. The law is clear: No public speaking time is a violation. We the people don’t need some other authority to determine a prima case like that was. Hence the reason the sheriff arrived and concurred. Keep up the work dogs!

  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 16:04h, 06 February

    You are correct in the citizens right to arrest and detain ANYONE who has committed a crime. Police officers enjoy qualified immunity when arresting anyone. Citizens don’t. So if you arrest anyone for a crime and especially detain them you must be confident it will hold up in court, or you may charged with a crime(s) and / or risk liability a civil lawsuit obviously. Police officers are not the ONLY people who can arrest someone, anyone. This is a FACT and you tested that law effectively John. Thank you again for being willing to take mitigated risks for other people. Keep pushing back. Stories like this inspired me and many others to do same and stand up for our rights in this Republic of ours in OUR United States of America. God Bless you.

  • Curious
    Posted at 17:41h, 06 February

    Could someone list the section or sub-section of the illinois law on open meetings act where it lists citizens arrests or calling of the police as an option for violations. All I find is 2 options. Law suit or filing with the agpac. I don’t see any where in the law that mentions other options. I may be mistaken, but I require more proof than just you all saying it.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 20:35h, 06 February

      —That’s easy: Since we already know that people have the statutory right to address the board during every public meeting [Section 2.06(g)], you should look at:

      (5 ILCS 120/4) (from Ch. 102, par. 44)
      Sec. 4. Any person violating any of the provisions of this Act, except subsection (b), (c), (d), (e), or (f) of Section 1.05, shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.

      —Since we know a Class C misdemeanor is a criminal offense (not an ordinance violation or civil offense), we look to the Criminal Code for guidance:

      (725 ILCS 5/107-3) (from Ch. 38, par. 107-3)
      Sec. 107-3. Arrest by private person.
      Any person may arrest another when he has reasonable grounds to believe that an offense other than an ordinance violation is being committed.

      —Now that we know a private person can make an arrest, why don’t we look to see HOW an arrest can be made:

      (725 ILCS 5/107-5) (from Ch. 38, par. 107-5)
      Sec. 107-5. Method of arrest.
      (a) An arrest is made by an actual restraint of the person or by his submission to custody.
      (b) An arrest may be made on any day and at any time of the day or night.
      (c) An arrest may be made anywhere within the jurisdiction of this State.
      (d) All necessary and reasonable force may be used to effect an entry into any building or property or part thereof to make an authorized arrest.

      —There you have it!
      (I am not an attorney)
      —However, if you wish to rely on what legal firms are instructing their clients, look no further than the Illinois Library Association’s 2014 Annual Conference, where they answer that question at the bottom of this page:

      —The key is to make 100% sure a violation is occurring – not allowing public comment is a 100% sure violation.

      —Incidentally, we have sued prior to a meeting where we believed a violation would occur, and won that suit thru a Temporary Restraining Order:

  • franklin
    Posted at 23:39h, 06 February

    What was the final result of the citizens arrest in clark county did all defendents pay a fine or what

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 07:14h, 07 February

      The State’s Attorney said the State Police were handling it (code word for we’ll never see it again).
      Doesn’t mean the law wasn’t broken, only that he didn’t want to prosecute it.

      • No
        Posted at 09:22h, 07 February

        So no class c misdemeanor? If you hadn’t settled for court costs and it had gone full trial, you wouldn’t have won. A judge would not charge that board with class c misdemeanors for 1 time at 1 park board meeting. You appear to settle more than you win through full trials. You dabble in such minor law infractions that it makes litigation not cost effective. More or less the suits you bring up are settled for annoyance costs. You don’t need to waste your theatrics and over speak on me.

        • jmkraft
          Posted at 09:56h, 07 February

          How does it feel to be ignorant? A citizen cannot prosecute a misdemeanor, only the State’s Attorney can do that. If that had went to full trial on the civil suit it would have certainly won, all the evidence was on video.

  • Lisa "Nickie" Thomas
    Posted at 18:29h, 07 February

    We all know the state’s attorney wouldn’t prosecute anything unless it murder, drug charge or theft. Hell! He watched someone testify to the fact they committed fraud and perjury and didn’t do anything. He wouldn’t want to lose his job prosecuting someone that’s considered influential. Of course this is my opinion. If Dennis Simonton would like to prove me wrong though he could go ahead and prosecute Larry Yargus and if he needs the recording I’d be happy to share it with him. This crime has already been proven to be committed by Mr. Yargus personal testimony on January 13, 2015 at the Clark County Electoral Board hearing.