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Deputy clerk Ward no longer county employee

Published: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 9:58 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2014 7:36 a.m. CST

GENEVA – A deputy clerk who was suspended last month for using the county’s email server to send campaign-related materials no longer works for Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham’s office, officials said. 

Kane County Human Resources Director Sheila McCraven confirmed Wednesday that Jeff Ward of Geneva no longer was a county employee as of April 1. McCraven said the paperwork connected to Ward states he was “termed,” which does not indicate whether he quit or was fired. 

Late last week, Cunningham would not confirm or deny Ward’s employment status. Instead, Cunningham said Ward’s employment was a “personnel issue that will be straightened out in a day or two.” 

Cunningham has not responded to numerous messages seeking comment. Ward did not return a message seeking comment. 

Ward was both an employee at the clerk’s office and a campaign volunteer for Cunningham in his bid for the Republican nomination in the March 18 primary against County Board member Mark Davoust.

Cunningham won the contest, and if there is no Democratic challenger he will run unopposed in November. 

It would be Cunningham’s fourth term. At issue is a March 12 email from Ward, sent at 9:45 a.m. using his Kane County email account, WardJeff@co.kane.il.us regarding a correction in Cunningham’s financial disclosure statement. 

The email was sent to Tom Newman, deputy director of campaign disclosure for the Illinois State Board of Elections. Ward then sent a copy to Cunningham on his county email account, cunninghamjohn@co.kane.il.us.

Ward had said he was on his break when he sent the emails. 

State election law and the county’s own ethics ordinance do not allow the use of taxpayer-supported materials for political purposes, officials said. 

Newman said enforcement of the state election law is through the local state’s attorney. Davoust filed a complaint with county ethics adviser Grant Wegner.

In an email, Wegner said his preliminary investigation shows that it appeared Ward violated two provisions of the county’s ethics ordinance, engaging in prohibited political activities during compensated time, and using county resources.

Wegner referred the complaint to Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon for review. McMahon said he will not discuss potential or pending investigations.

Cunningham said though Ward was a volunteer in his re-election campaign, using the county’s email system was wrong.

He suspended Ward for five days without pay. 

The Friday before the primary, Cunningham said Ward had offered to resign, but that Cunningham would not accept the resignation.

According to the county’s online employee wage and salary data for 2013, Ward was employed at the clerk’s office as an applications analyst for $47,999.90 a year.

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