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Ethics Commission Drops Complaint Against Vickery

Three commissioners find Kendall County Board member Anne Vickery didn't intentionally violate the county's ethics ordinance over an e-mailed fundraiser invitation.

Kendall County’s three ethics commissioners discussed an invitation to a political fundraiser for a matter of minutes before clearing County Board member Anne Vickery of an ethics complaint Thursday.

“My personal opinion is that it was probably wrong, but I don’t think there was any intent,” commissioner Darald Nelson said.

The unanimous decision the Kendall County Ethics Commission heard since the county’s ethics ordinance was approved in May 2004, State’s Attorney Eric Weis said.

The commission chose against sending the complaint to Weis’ office for prosecutors to consider pursuing as an ordinance violation. If convicted of an ordinance violation, Vickery, of Minooka, could have faced a fine or up to a year in jail.

The ethics commission's ruling also indicates the trio found no probable cause that, if the acts alleged had occurred, Vickery had committed violation of Article 5 of the county’s ethics ordinance. That section prohibits employees and elected officials from using county resources for certain political activity, such as preparing for political events or soliciting campaign contributions.

Retired judge Jim Wilson, who Vickery has described as a political foe, filed the complaint Dec. 17.  He did not attend Thursday’s hearing.

Vickery on Oct. 31 to invite three fellow county board members to a fundraiser she hosted. Vickery, a Minooka resident who is seeking re-election for the last time, apologized during a County Board meeting Nov. 28.

The e-mail invited County Board members Dan Koukol, John Shaw and Bob Davidson to a fundraiser Vickery hosted for Republican State Rep. Pam Roth of Morris, who is running for re-election in the 75th District.

“I did not ask them for any money,” Vickery said. “I simply, from the bottom of my heart, did not want to leave anybody out or think that I have overlooked inviting someone.”

The invitation indicates “a donation of $50 per person or $75 a couple would be appreciated,” but Vickery said several people attended the function without donating money and without her asking them to donate.

Ethics Commissioner Lowell Mathre said that the “prohibited political activity” section of the Ethics Ordinance was complicated.

“You don’t hardly dare breathe,” Mathre said. “It’s got so many restrictions on it.”

Meanwhile, Ethics Commissioner Kristine Heiman noted the Vickery had said she didn’t often use e-mail, although other e-mails she sent on Oct. 31 seemed personal.

“I do think she’s got to quit using the county e-mail for personal things,” Heiman said.

Heiman, a Democrat, is running for Kendall County Board in District 2. She’ll be competing with Vickery for one of five seats if Vickery succeeds in receiving a Republican Party nomination in District 2 next month.

Weis assured Heiman at the beginning of the hearing that her candidacy did not prevent her from acting as a commissioner in this case.

“You’re under no legal conflict,” Weis said. “… How that’s perceived, that’s a separate issue. I can’t advise you on that.”

Rachael B. February 03, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Don't forget to vote! Let's get some competent representatives on our County Board.
Tim February 03, 2012 at 10:40 PM
So, the board is basically saying its ok what she did, because she claimed ignorance of the law... How can she not be aware that using other peoples(in this case public) property for your own purposes is not allowed? In what other area of life is this line of thought valid? Is it ok to walk over to your neighbors house and walk in and take some sugar? Is it ok to take a car for a joyride because you don't want to take yours out in the rain? This woman is an elected official of the county board for goodness sakes! Is the standard so low in kendall county that this blatant ignorance of officials is not only tolerated, but excused? At least it is becoming obvious where the board stands on these issues as well. One set of rules for them, one set of rules for you. Next time a police officer in Kendall county wants to issue you an ordinance violation, just tell them you didn't know it was illegal and that you didn't mean it. See how well that goes over.
Todd Milliron February 03, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Our County's Ethics Law was required to be passed by state statute within 6 months of the State's Ethics Law being approved. That new state law was the result of the public outcry due to the abuse of office and state resources performed while George Ryan was Sec. of State. We remember it as the Driver's License Scandal, where purchasing Ryan Fund Raiser Raffle tickets and other monetary consideration known as bribes was used to purchase DL's for individuals that wanted to drive big rig trucks. The “prohibited political activity” section of the County Ethics Ordinance that is so complicated to Ethics Commissioner Lowell Mathre is word for word, verbatim the same text as used in the State Ethics Law which has felony penalties. The County Ethics Ordinance was required to be adopted with that “prohibited political activity” section as written by the Illinois State Legislature. On May 18, 2004 the KCB complied with the statutory 6 month requirement and passed the County Ethic Ordinance. The County Ordinance’s penalty section is more lenient and only provides for misdemeanor penalties.
my conscience February 04, 2012 at 12:24 PM
"Tim" what makes you an expert on county government, or the law? ... Yorkville Patch, your in for a treat now!
newbie February 04, 2012 at 05:19 PM
wether it's money,favors,whatever if the act involves government time,equiptment,staff etc. for anything other than government business it's illegal. a political fundraiser directive issued on government time is no different than a Bribe or a threat!No matter how you spin it.

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