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Ethics adviser refers report of county email used for campaign to state’s attorney

Published: Monday, March 17, 2014 10:30 p.m. CST

GENEVA – The Kane County ethics adviser has referred a report that Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham and a deputy clerk used the county’s server to send campaign-related emails during the workday to the state’s attorney for review, officials said.

Kane County Board member Mark Davoust, R-St. Charles, said he reported a suspected breach of the county’s ethics ordinance by Cunningham and Deputy Clerk Jeff Ward last week to county ethics adviser Grant Wegner said.

“He believes there is enough there to merit sending it to the state’s attorney,”  Davoust said. “Since it was brought to my attention ... I felt compelled to report the activity.”

Davoust is challenging incumbent Cunningham for the Republican nomination in today’s primary race for county clerk. Cunningham is seeking his fourth term.

At issue is a March 12 email from Ward on his Kane County account to the state board of elections, to correct Cunningham’s financial disclosure statement. Ward sent a copy to Cunningham on Cunningham’s county email account.

State election law and the county’s own ethics ordinance do not allow the use of taxpayer-supported materials for political purposes, officials said. Cunningham said using the county’s email was wrong and suspended Ward for five days without pay. Ward, who is also a volunteer on Cunningham’s campaign, acknowledged he should not have used the county’s server.

Davoust said he had taken a strong position years ago in creating the ethics ordinance.

“I’m pleased to say that the system I helped put in place with the ethics adviser is working as it should,” Davoust said.

Wegner did not respond to a voice mail nor an email regarding Davoust’s inquiry. Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said his office would not discuss potential or pending investigations.

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