DuPage Co. (ECWd) -
An article published yesterday by the Chicago Tribune reported that College of DuPage Chairman Kathy Hamilton violated the ethics policy as it relates to prohibited acts.
The Taxpayer-funded, electioneering, witch hunt at COD
In an effort to show the level some people will stoop to, we will break down the failings in this "audit" one at a time, as there are number of them and it is clear this was use of taxpayer funds in an effort to discredit Hamilton.
An ethics complaint was filed. According to our sources, Breuder DIRECTED a COD employee to file the complaint. Does that give you an indication where this is going?
According to the internal audit report, COD adopted the state ethics policy in its entirety. Board policy reflects they also adopted their own ethics Ordinance (instead of the Attorney General's Model Ordinance), which address the minimum requirements of Gift Ban, Prohibited Political Activities, and Penalties. Interestingly COD's Ordinance fails to address several key points.
- Who do you file an ethics complaint with?
- Is there an ethics commission or board?
- What is the process for evaluating such a complaint?
- Is the person entitled to provide a response to the complaint?
It would appear that the ethics policy adopted missed key elements as it is impossible to assess penalties to violations if you don't have a process in place for complaints to be reviewed, and a decision made that offers the person being complained about an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Board Policy 15-27 outlines the reporting of wrongdoing and it is clear those requirements were not complied with. Specifically, "Complaints involving a Board member will be brought to the Board’s attention by the President upon receipt of the same."
Breuder violated Board Policy because he DID NOT bring this complaint to the attention of the board. If you were not aware of his previous violation simply review the Gift ban and cross referenced all his eating, drinking, and gifts to Senior Administrators, or click here to read the little piggy article on the matter.
Found guilty by who? Under what authority? Sadly, the policy fails to outline answers to those questions. Even more laughable is the fact there is no input provided from the accused because they were never made aware of a complaint. Isn't that special!
Now let's get to the meat of the complaint.
- Ken Florey is involved in providing definitions to the non-lawyer who drafted the internal audit report.
No need for tax payer funds to be spent on Florey when the statute pertaining to this issue defines the very points raised in the report. What I find very odd is the report provides a legal opinion on matters, yet the auditor is not an attorney. What type of justice is obtained when the single person making legal statements of facts never once asks the accused a question?
- "Based on the advice of legal counsel, it is my understanding that an officer is "executing official duties" any time that officer is holding themselves out in their official capacity, which in this case would be as a Trustee or Vice-Chair of the College of DuPage Board of Trustees."
According the the Attorney General, "a public officer or employee, while on compensated time or on public property, engages in organizing a prohibited political activity or otherwise actively participates in a political activity, for example, by giving an introduction or endorsement of a candidate, then the officer's or employee's conduct would violate the Ordinance."
The above advice of the legal counsel is in direct contradiction to the AG opinion. It should be noted that this is the same attorney that tried to cancel the Candidate Forum, and the AG opinion I cited was used to prove him wrong. Since Hamilton was not on compensated time or on public property, she is free to do what she wants as it relates to political involvement. All of the examples presented in the audit report clearly point to matters outside the scope of the laws intent. (Click here to read AG opinion)
Any time that officer is holding themselves out in their official capacity.
The audit report claims other people's Facebook pages and campaign flyers reference Kathy Hamilton in her capacity as Vice Chairman. Are these people actually trying to imply that another person's use of her title means she violated a policy because other people used her title?
- "Soliciting Contributions for a Political Fundraiser"
How is another person's political fundraising twisted to imply Hamilton violated policy? Because her picture was on the flyer? Seriously? I guess the auditor missed the campaign flyer by Savage and Svoboda where Savage referenced her title as COD Trustee. (Click here to see the use of the title Trustee in an article we published previously.)
- "Participating in a Political Event" - "Pictures taken during the event show Vice-Chair Hamilton was there participating in the event."
I guess these people have no clue what the First Amendment is. The more I read in this report, the more amazed I am. When a person is not performing the duties of their elected position they are on their OWN time and can do as they please. You cannot legislate what a person does on their own time.
- "Soliciting Votes on behalf of a Candidate" - "The online
story was accompanied by a video of the event in which Kathy Hamilton is clearly identified as the College of DuPage Vice Chair and she specifically endorses each of three candidates."
How special. The Daily Herald published a video that has typed text identifying Ms. Hamilton as Vice Chairman, however, when she made her endorsement she made NO MENTION of her position at COD. Is this audit actually taking the position that since a newspaper used her title in their video, it means Hamilton violated policy? If that is not a stretch I don't know what is. If you enter the link below into a Google search you can read the article and watch the video. IF you have a subscription simply click on the link. (http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20150223/news/150229500/)
I have seen some witch-hunts in my day but I think this one takes the cake. The report is so out of line I suspect even Erin Birt saw it for what it was and that is why she never brought it to the board.
May I suggest the policy pertaining to false reports be implemented on this situation?
I believe Hamilton's response to this absurd report was appropriate and I hope they are able to move on to fixing the bigger problems at COD. May I suggest they start with law violations by Breuder referenced in this article?
“This memo is absurd. I saw it for the first time yesterday, June 17, 2015. It shows politics gripped COD leadership prior to the April election, and COD leadership spent tax dollars to hold onto its power.
Prior COD leadership cancelled a candidate forum. It used taxpayer-funded counsel and public relations advisers to give political advice to trustee candidates. It spent $400,000 on unprecedented campaign-style mailings. It overlooked Trustees Nancy Svoboda and Kim Savage campaigning together as an incumbent slate. It gave me no notice of the complaint against me, nor opportunity to tell my side of the story. And now, with the memo leaking today, we see the then-president used public resources to create political points to use against an elected member of the board. Free speech and due process reign at COD, as does the entire U.S. Constitution. It always will.”
Internal Audit Report:
[gview file="https://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Internal-Audit-Report-04-02-15.pdf" save="1"]