Kirk Allen, a writer and founder of Edgar County Watchdogs, says he doesn't understand why the state Office of Executive Inspector General has "punted" his formal ethics compliant against Gov. Bruce Rauner and his administration to the state's Auditor General Inspector General.
"Considering each state agency has their own inspector general, I don’t understand why this was punted as the governor's administration oversight is the OEIG, not another state agency IG," Allen told Prairie State Wire. "It may be possible they will claim it was done to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest, but if that was the case it makes no sense to give it to an agency inspector general who is led by an appointed official that is under criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney, or at least was last year."
Allen said earlier this week on the Edgar County Watchdogs website that the formal complaint he filed with the OEIG in March had been punted to the office of Illinois' Auditor General Frank Mautino. "The Office of Executive Inspector General (OEIG) has received and reviewed your complaint, and has determined that it is more appropriate for your allegations to be addressed by the Auditor General Inspector General," Allen siad, quoting from what he said was the second letter he has received in response to his formal complaint.
Edgar County Watchdogs Co-Founder Kirk Allen
Allen co-founded Edgar County Watchdogs with John Kraft in 2011.
On March 13, Allen announced on the Edgar County Watchdogs website that a formal complaint had been filed with the OEIG "focused on the three parts of the law that we believe have been violated." The complaint was based on four articles posted on Edgar County Watchdogs and a memo from Rauner's general counsel.
"As we have done in the past, when we believe violations of law have taken place we provide the applicable information to the appropriate agency for an independent investigation," the March 13 announcement said.
The OEIG was the natural place to file the complaint, Allen said during his Prairie State Wire interview. "The OEIG is important because it is supposed to be the backstop for compliance with our laws," he said. "If we can’t trust the OEIG, who can we trust? I don’t trust any of these agencies, which is why we also filed a criminal complaint and request for investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice."
The OEIG responded in a March 22 letter about his complaint, signed by Acting Executive Inspector General Susan M. Hailing, acknowledging receipt of the complaint. "Please be advised that our agency is required to keep confidential all records and information pertaining to any investigation we may commence," the letter said. "Therefore, we will be unable to provide you with the status or outcome of any investigation we may undertake, although under certain circumstances our final investigative reports with findings of misconduct may be publicly released. Your commitment to ensuring honesty, integrity and accountability in State government is greatly appreciated and we thank you for bringing this matter to our attention."
The OEIG's decision in this matter is indicative of many problems in Illinois, Allen said during the Prairie State Wire interview. "In order for the people to have trust in their government, we must first have transparency and accountability to our laws," Allen said.
"To date, Illinois is the poster child for nontransparency and zero accountability to our laws," he said. "When this path is allowed to be the norm, public trust is gone and people will no longer participate in their local government. When the people turn their back, those in power become unstoppable because no one is watching or even cares anymore."
There are important reasons why Illinois voters and residents need to be aware that the OEIG has "punted" its responsibility in this matter, Allen told Prairie State Wire.
"The only way citizens can ever make the right decisions regarding their elected officials is by being informed," Allen said. "An informed voter base makes better choices."