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April 24, 2024

LaSalle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne – Where does it end?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On November 7, 2016

LaSalle, CO.(ECWd)

Today I received a package of public records from the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, which as they pointed out, they did not have to turn over because they are not subject to FOIA but they did in the spirit of transparency.  I thank them for providing the records, but believe the legislature needs to take steps to make judicial agencies subject to FOIA as this is a real problem with other judicial agencies refusing to provide records.  More on that to come.

I requested numerous documents related to Brian Towne, the Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office as well as the LaSalle County State’s Attorney.  One, in particular, was any minutes where a vote was taken approving Brian Towne to be paid to teach classes for the Appellate Prosecutors Office.  As suspected, no approvals were made because the have delegated the hiring of those instructors to the discretion of the Director.

Now let this sink in for a minute.

The very Board of Governors that hires a Director, allows the Director to hire the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the very office that employs him.  Share that with anyone, and they will scream conflict of interest.  Ethically, yes it is.  The appearance of conflict stinks to high heaven, however, the statute pertaining to such a conflict stipulates the conflict is tied to contracts or work in which the officer “may” be called upon to act or vote.

In this case, by allowing the Director to make such decisions, the board is not voting, thus the board members are allowed to have contracts and perform work with the very public body they are in charge of.  For those legislatures reading this, need we suggest a legislative fix for this mess?

In this case, Lasalle County State’s Attorney and Appellate Prosecutors Chairman of the Board, Brian Towne, has placed an extra $46,875.00 in his personal pocket since 2012 and did so with no-bid contracts issued by his employee, the Director of the agency in which he is the Chairman.  The letter from the Appellate Prosecutors office stated in part, “…left to the Director’s discretion per years of Board practice”.  Or, as we hear all so often with these types of matters, we have always done it that way.

We find it interesting that one of the  mandates for a State’s Attorney is the commencement of their duties.  The State’s attorney shall enter upon the duties of his office on the first day in the month of December following his election on which the State’s attorney’s office is required to be open.

How can Towne comply with the law, the performance of his duties office on days his office is required to be open when he is out of town getting paid for his part-time no-bid contract gig with the other public agency he is chairman of the Board for?

(55 ILCS 5/3-9002) (from Ch. 34, par. 3-9002)
    Sec. 3-9002. Commencement of duties. The State's attorney shall enter upon the duties of his office on the first day in the month of December following his election on which the State's attorney's office is required, by statute or by action of the county board, to be open.

Towne was off working his private gig a total of 75 days over the last 5 years instead of performing his duties at his office in which the taxpayers pay his salary.  That averages 15 days a year he is working his private gig of which only 3 days of that teaching was done on a weekend day.  So we have 72 days of private work done during public obligation time.

Ok, now for all those naysayers that want to chime in and claim that was all done during vacation time or otherwise.  Great. Let’s assume he took time off to go work for his employee that hired him and never mind it was the Board he sits on that hired that employee.

Can anyone explain why the taxpayers of this state should be paying Brian Towne per-diem from the county funds so that he can go off and work his part time no bid gig with his employee at the Appellate Prosecutor’s office?  Yes, Brian Towne was paid per-diem to go off and work his private gig instead of performing his duties as State’s Attorney during the days his office was to be open.  Per-diem totals for this time frame came to $2,254.00, of which were paid out from various county accounts.  That brings his total earnings to $49,129.00 for his part-time gig.

The question now is where do the citizens of LaSalle turn in order to see that spending is done in compliance with the law.  They can’t take it to Towne as he is conflicted considering it is his office cutting per diem checks for his part time gig and they clearly can’t turn to the Appellate prosecutor as he is the Chairman of that Board and doing work for them.  Although ethical conflicts are clear for all to see in his working relationship on a board he chairs and not technically a violation of law, it does appear getting per diem from the county he was elected to service for while working for another public agency is not within his powers and duties that we can identify in the County Code.

I guess for now we can just add this stuff to the pile of things the FBI is looking into as it relates to Brian Towne and the activities of his office.

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  • G. Barraclough
    Posted at 15:14h, 07 November

    I guess for now we can just add this stuff to the pile of things the FBI is looking into as it relates to Brian Towne and the activities of his office.

    Let’s just hope that in the end, the FBI doesn’t conclude the whole investigation by doing nothing and saying Brian Towne was just “extremely careless.”

    As they did recently in another big investigation of another public official.

  • David Zurinski
    Posted at 18:03h, 15 November

    In every race there are winners and there are losers. Case in point this election year was a race for La Salle County State Attorney.
    The loser is well educated man of the system who was trying to do the only job he has ever wanted, to make everyone in the County safe. A Public Servant dedicated to the office with 24 years experience. This man dedicated himself to the people of La Salle County. He was never self serving as he was portrayed. He is a family man trying to raise a family the way you and I would want to raise a family. To insure there is a place for them to live, eat and sleep in a safe environment. Not a criminal as depicted on the radio or on the sides of vehicles, some sneaking illegally into parades because their clandestine plan was to discredit this Servant of the County. These persons don’t want you to know who they are or what their history is inside the criminal system of La Salle County. Some would say, that if you knew who they were that your vote would have been swayed. So they continued to sneak and discredit. Was your conscience your guide this election year or was it the conscience of these persons?
    Years of experience in this race made no difference. Years of being sure mine and your families were made safe made no difference. Years of getting criminals punished, of trying to control the onslaught of drugs coming into this County, of trying to make it a little safer for us and our children. No, the only thing this time, in this race was all the mudslinging being done to discredit a people’s servant.
    I have said for years that the only thing constant is change. Well La Salle County voters a change is coming! I hope at this time that some of the experienced people still working for our betterment in the La Salle County Criminal System remember the tasks assigned to them and continue to hold themselves accountable to the same standard that our outgoing State Attorney expected of them.
    David L. Zurinski And proud to say Brian’s Father-in-Law

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 19:18h, 15 November

      The paper trail says otherwise. With FBI investigations into actions of his office I prefer to put my trust in the FEDS than a man who has clearly taken steps to fill his own pocket.

    • Kyle Mitchell
      Posted at 00:07h, 19 January

      He was quoted in the Times during a previous election as saying that he wanted his office to be a safe haven where the public came come for answers. When I couldn’t get proper enforcement of laws in Streator, I went to his office for answers and help, but they refused to even talk to me without a police report, which our local police department routinely refused to file. I then wrote letters to him that went unanswered. When I finally got SPD to file a report for a theft incident, but it was very incomplete and false, his office still refused to talk to me. It seems that his comments were nothing but political rhetoric and he was not interested in being involved in providing proper enforcement of our laws in Streator. After my first hand experience in trying to get any help from his office, there is no way that I could vote for him and I made sure to let as many people as possible know about how he refused to help.