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April 14, 2024

What Public Officials Can Get Away With – Is A New Standard Established By Illinois Attorney General?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On March 10, 2024

Champaign Co. (ECWd) –

Several weeks ago we covered the information contained in the Illinois State Police investigation in the Mahomet Township Road District Highway Commissioner Christian A. Doenitz in this article.  We asked in the title, “Do Laws Matter In Illinois?”.

One of the most foundational laws on our books in Illinois is our State Constitution, Article VIII section 1a

Section 1. General Provisions
(a) Public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes.

Violations of this particular section by public officials constituted a felony in the past, but it appears we now have an answer to our question and a new standard set by the Office of The Attorney General.

Mahomet Township Road District highway commissioner Doenitz admitted to the ISP in their criminal investigation numerous examples of questionable spending, but the following key points tie directly to our constitutional mandate regarding public funds and property.

  • “Doenitz also admitted that Harper has worked for him on his farm while getting paid by the township. Doenitz said Harper is paid full-time for both places at the same time.”
  • “Doenitz verified he has a son, Christopher Ryan Doenitz and he goes my Ryan. Ryan works at the Road District on a part-time, winter basis, but used to be full-time until this past March. The Road District has a laptop they use for diagnostic tests on their trucks that Ryan would use. Doenitz admitted Ryan would keep the laptop in his personal service truck and use it for personal use because Doenitz “didn’t care.”

The first admission indicates public funds were used to pay a person who was doing work on the Doenitz farm.  Such work does not have a public purpose and normally would be a violation of Article VIII Section 1a, public funds being used for a private purpose rather than a public purpose.

The second admission indicates public property, a government laptop for diagnostics of township trucks, was being used in Doenitz’s son’s personal service truck, which again does not appear consistent with Article VIII Section 1a of our Constitution. Public property is being used for a private purpose.

According to the Attorney General, such violations appear to be of no concern to them.

“It is our conclusion that the allegations do not rise to the level of criminal prosecution and, accordingly, the OAG has decided to not file criminal charges.”  AG Letter to ISP

For starters, I think the AG should go back and read the ISP report. The ISP did not make any allegations on those points outlined above. They documented admissions.  I think there is a huge difference between an allegation and admission.

Doesn’t rise to the level of criminal prosecution?  We were not aware there was a “level” that had to be reached as there is no such language in the constitution.  Whether some public official steals a dollar or $10,000 dollars, it is still theft.

The choice of wording in the AG response begs the question, what does rise to the level of criminal prosecution in Illinois? Is this not a message to every public official that you can now spend taxpayer dollars to pay people to work on their own private matters?  Is this not a message to every public official that you can loan out government property to family members to use in their private business?  Maybe this new standard is being applied to the matters taking place in Dalton, Illinois by Mayor Tiffany Henard.

While we understand why some crimes do not get prosecuted in this state, signaling that criminal prosecution must “rise to the level of criminal prosecution” appears to be a moving of the goalpost when it comes to the proper application of our laws.

Isn’t the first question that must be asked, does the evidence support that a crime was committed?  If the answer is yes, then a decision to prosecute should be made.  If denying prosecution is the path it should be for sound reasons and not signal that we now have a new standard that a certain threshold must be met.

We note that the AG did not indicate no crimes were committed or that there was insufficient evidence.  They simply said the matter did not rise to the level of criminal prosecution which tends to indicate they believe a crime was committed but just not bad enough for them to act on it.

To the voters in Illinois, elections have consequences!

 

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7 Comments
  • Daniel L Sleezer
    Posted at 12:33h, 10 March Reply

    There are no consequences in Illinois with the entire government in complete control of the Democratic Party. We are only protected in County jurisdictions if you have a no-nonsense States Attorney and Sheriff, but 0therwise there is no unbiased law enforcement in this state.
    It sounds like the Feds are poking around Tiffany’s nonsense, but it remains to be seen how aggressive they will be I don’t much trust the Feds to be unbiased.

  • Brian K Anderson
    Posted at 17:42h, 10 March Reply

    I responded to the last ECWD article regarding Mahomet Twp in depth. I believe I totaled close to $400K of questionable spending from the road district which personally benefitted the road commissioner and his family. I guess the level of malfeasance for the AG to take action is above my comprehension. Disgusting!

  • Droopy: Master Sergeant
    Posted at 19:39h, 10 March Reply

    AG will prosecute if you are a Republican. County clerk Bliss in Boone county met the threshold.

    Shelby county sheriff and highway engineer walked free. AG found nothing wrong. It has been well documented but Democrats.

    The threshold is the party someone is tied to. SICK!

  • NMWTLS
    Posted at 23:39h, 10 March Reply

    Please urge your representatives to vote YES on HB 5050.  The lack of oversight, lack of public participation and the often exposed graft in townships and township road districts are reason enough to eliminate the township road districts and turn the responsibilities over to the counties.  I am not of the belief that we should be governed by a more central government but townships and road districts have outlived their original intent of being local government physically close to the people. Those same people, which often include the township boards, have abdicated their responsibility to participate in the oversight of these entities.  This is just one story of an out of control township road district. The lack of prosecution in so many of these stories is reason enough for elimination of at least this (often overlapping) taxing entity. It would at least be a good start in Illinois.

  • John Weaver
    Posted at 05:31h, 11 March Reply

    When you vote for a democrat, this is what you get!

    • Homer
      Posted at 19:26h, 12 March Reply

      And when you vote republican you get nothing but lies

  • james
    Posted at 18:55h, 13 March Reply

    I think it’s time for Illinois to begin outsourcing. these corrupt government agencies. Maybe then the laws in place will be obeyed.

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