To the Editor:
I recently requested that the Kane County clerk resign. This request was based on actions and decisions of the clerk, Jack Cunningham, documented in the Kane County Chronicle.
In my opinion, Jack Cunningham, by his own words, has violated Illinois State Election law, the Kane County Board Ethics Ordinance and his oath of office. Here are the details:
Jack Cunningham and an assistant have admitted violating election law by using county resources to work on his campaign. The clerk is the elected county official responsible for running all elections within Kane County. If he doesn’t understand election law, who does? Every candidate for office should understand the basic rule that you can’t use county time or resources for your election or re-election. The assistant, Jeff Ward, is a local blogger who has written about another official doing exactly what he admitted doing.
In my opinion, this wasn’t a mistake; this was a clear and deliberate disregard for the law by two individuals who knew better.
The oath of office includes the phrase, “I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Kane County Clerk to the best of my ability.” The clerk has the fiduciary responsibility to residents to spend tax dollars wisely. Jack Cunningham has failed to manage the office properly.
In my opinion, Jack Cunningham violated several of the nine points in Section 2 of the Kane County Board of Ethics ordinance. The ordinance is posted on the Kane County website.
The biggest abuse came after Jeff Ward served a five-day suspension. He ultimately left the position as deputy clerk. Some time later, the story seemed to change to his position was eliminated due to an office reorganization. And the Chronicle reported that Ward was scheduled to be promoted and business cards were printed. How does one go from getting promoted to having your position eliminated? With a resignation, one might not qualify for severance or unemployment. In the world of politics, strange things happen when you become a political liability. Ward received 12 weeks of severance (about $11,300) and the ability to collect unemployment. Ward was a full-time employee for only about nine months.
Jack Cunningham and Jeff Ward have thumbed their noses at county residents. Cunningham needs to resign, and Ward needs to reimburse the county $11,300. The Kane County state’s attorney, Joe McMahon, needs to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor.