-By Warner Todd Huston
Did Quinn Fire Ethics Investigator to Help Chief of Staff?
Illinois Governor, Pat “the Accidental Governor” Quinn, has had a steady stream of campaign staffers quitting his campaign of late but this one is a bit different. Quinn’s chief of staff resigned Monday under a cloud of possible ethics violations.
Jerry Stermer, 67, is under an ethics probe for using his government sponsored email account to send campaign solicitations. Government officials are not allowed to use their government offices and other facilities for elections campaigns.
Stermer leaves a $150,000-a-year job and was Quinn’s highest paid staffer. A wrinkle in Stermer’s resignation also appears in the fact that Governor Quinn fired Executive Inspector General James A. Wright, the man investigating his chief of staff.
Quinn removed Wright Aug. 13, the same day the governor was briefed by his staff about findings against Stermer by the executive inspector general.
Wright concluded that Stermer “engaged in prohibited political activity” and encouraged Attorney General Lisa Madigan to file a complaint against him before the state Executive Ethics Commission, according to a confidential report written by Wright and obtained by the Sun-Times.
Quinn justified the firing by claiming that Wright was a holdover from Blagojevich and that he wanted to replace him with his own man. While this may well be true, it is suspicious that the inspector was fired once Quinn found out the man was investigating his chief of staff!
Wright himself has told reporters that he is “unclear” on why he was fired.
Quinn has yet to replace Stermer.