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*** UPDATED x2 *** Quinn’s chief of staff resigns, but it’s a bizarre tale

Monday, Aug 23, 2010

*** UPDATE 1 *** From the Bill Brady campaign…

“This is yet another stunning report involving the administration of Governor Pat Quinn. Today’s revelation suggests that on the very day Pat Quinn was confronted with evidence by the Inspector General of an ethics violation, Pat Quinn put his political interests before citizens yet again and fired the Inspector General himself. This disturbing report leads to a myriad of questions that the citizens of Illinois deserve to have answered.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** Gov. Quinn’s statement…

“Gov. Quinn has accepted Jerry Stermer’s resignation, effective immediately.

“The Office of the Governor complies with investigations of the Office of the Executive Inspector General and takes its inquiries very seriously.

“Jerry Stermer, who previously led the nonprofit organization Voices for Illinois Children for more than 20 years, has served as Gov. Quinn’s chief of staff since Feb. 9, 2009, at an annual salary of $150,000.

“In the case of the three emails in question, Jerry Stermer himself reported the inadvertent use of his state email account to both the governor’s ethics officer and the Office of the Executive Inspector General in order to allow the OEIG to both investigate and recommend corrective action under the state Ethics Act. Jerry Stermer disclosed the emails to the appropriate authorities in order to address the emails in the most honest and ethical manner possible.

“Gov. Quinn was briefed on the OEIG’s report and recommendations on Aug. 13 and has accepted Jerry Stermer’s offer to resign from his position as chief of staff, effective immediately.

“Ricardo Meza was appointed by Gov. Quinn to head the Office of the Executive Inspector General on August 15, 2010 after a lengthy search process which began in the summer of 2009. Ricardo Meza replaced an inspector general appointed by the previous administration whose term expired in 2008. The replacement was not in response to this or any other specific OEIG report, and these events are in no way connected.

“Gov. Quinn is committed to reforming state government, increasing ethics and accountability. All allegations are taken seriously, and acted on as appropriate.”

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Gov. Pat Quinn’s chief of staff Jerry Stermer has resigned, but the resignation raises more questions than it answers. Why? This..

Quinn removed [Executive Inspector General James A. 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.

Normally, one would say that this firing of Wright is a blatant attempt at a cover-up. But Stermer actually reported himself to the OEIG…

Stermer, Quinn’s chief of staff since February 2009, actually initiated a complaint with Wright’s office Jan. 12 to report that campaign-related e-mails he sent “inadvertently” last October and December from his state-issued BlackBerry or personal computer may have broken state ethics laws.

“While my intention was not to do anything wrong, I recognized that a mistake was made and quickly disclosed this information to the governor’s ethics officer — a former assistant U.S. attorney — who recommended that I provide the information to the OEIG for appropriate investigation,” Stermer said. “I voluntarily provided the information to the OEIG for investigation, and made it clear that I was prepared to accept the consequences for my mistakes.”

The plot thickens…

The first of Stermer’s alleged missteps came last Oct. 11 in a response to an e-mail sent a day earlier from the Quinn campaign’s media consultant, John Kupper. He wanted to formulate a response to an expected argument from Democratic gubernatorial rival Dan Hynes about Quinn being a “tax and spender,” the Wright report said.

That ain’t much, and neither are the other two e-mails. If that’s really all Stermer did, and if Stermer really did report his own behavior way back in January, then why, all of a sudden, was Wright demanding an attorney general complaint with the ethics commission? It took him eight months to conclude that Stermer was a bad guy?

Still, firing your inspector general the same day he files a report against your own chief of staff - no matter how rinky dink - is a really stupid idea. Wright could’ve been playing some internal politics to keep his job, but that’s the way it goes. Dumping him that same day was truly idiotic.

Also, John Kupper is the “K” in AKPD, which was fired last week as Quinn’s media consultant. Everybody’s going down at once, it appears.

What a great way to kick off the first week after the Blagojevich verdict.

…Adding… Jerry Stermer’s full statement

“I have offered my resignation as Gov. Quinn’s chief of staff effective immediately.

“Last year, I inadvertently used my state email account to send three emails that the Office of Executive Inspector General later found to be prohibited under the state’s Ethics Act. While my intention was not to do anything wrong, I recognized that a mistake was made and quickly disclosed this information to the governor’s ethics officer - a former assistant U.S. attorney - who recommended that I provide the information to the OEIG for appropriate investigation. I voluntarily provided the information to the OEIG for investigation and made it clear that I was prepared to accept the consequences for my mistakes.

“The people of Illinois must have full confidence in the leadership of their state, and I will not be a distraction in achieving that goal. Gov. Quinn has built his career on the belief that government must be honest and accountable. Today, I am holding myself accountable for a mistake I alone made. I do not want to be a distraction for the governor, the work of his administration and - most importantly - for the people of Illinois. “

- Posted by Rich Miller        


95 Comments
  1. - anon - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 9:50 am:

    Quinn v. Blago in the “who is more Nixonian?!!”


  2. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 9:52 am:

    BREAKING:

    Fork Futures Rise in Illinois as Quinn Makes Another Unforced Error


  3. - Life Long Republican - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 9:53 am:

    If my party cannot at least take the Governors mansion after this revelation, I quit. There is a reason most polls have Bradey up and that is Pat Quinn himself.


  4. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 9:54 am:

    Quinn can’t govern. Madigan and cullerton know this. Brady for 4 years no big deal to them. It looks like Lisa madigan in 2014


  5. - whatever - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:00 am:

    “That ain’t much”

    Really? The article leads us to believe Stermer directed Vaught to use his entire office to address Kuppers request.


  6. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:00 am:

    Quinn should have ran for Senator. Pick your issues and crusade. I can’t figure out what’s going on here, but it’s clearly the result of a weak executive.


  7. - George - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:02 am:

    It is a very odd tale. Maybe because this is Illinois and we aren’t used to people voluntarily disclosing their mistakes.


  8. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:02 am:

    Down goes the SS Quinn…Wow! I can not believe we are at the point where AKPD and now Stermer are gone. This is incompetence beyond anything I have seen.


  9. - erstwhilesteve - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:02 am:

    On the golf course, what Stermer reportedly did (especially since it was self-reported) would be at most a two-stroke penalty. Doesn’t make sense that he should step down. What else is going on here?


  10. - wiseguy - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:08 am:

    Isnt anybody concerned about how McKinney got the OIG report?

    Who works that case against the OIG?

    What if Wright got wind he was getting let go, and figured what the heck. Talk about an ethics violation.

    Doesnt Jimenez still work there? Wasnt he is journalism at one time?


  11. - Montrose - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:10 am:

    It almost sounds like Stermer was looking for an exit strategy, and he decided to grab on to this. I don’t blame him.


  12. - cassandra - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:12 am:

    These were the most technical of violations, raising questions about why Stermer resigned. It shouldn’t be too hard to convince voters that an elderly man like Stermer mixed up his communications devices. I’d believe it, and I’m not inclined to believe much of what state bureaucrats and pols say these days.

    It’s Quinn who should resign. This is a governor who kept on well over half of the Blago hires in state government, including, apparently, Wright whose term is said to have expired some time ago. The appearance of impropriety is very very strong. Ok, so let’s say Quinn was dumb enough to fire Wright on the same day of the report, for other reasons, but do we really want a governor that dumb. We just had one dumb governor
    and we’re still paying a very big price.


  13. - reality check - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:15 am:

    It took eight months for IG Wright to decide what to do about this ethics violation?!?

    Seems he shoulda been fired……..


  14. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:15 am:

    The issue here is not the Stermer emails which I agree aren’t a big deal. The BIG issue here is the firing of the OEIG on the day Quinn found out about OEIG was going to complain about Stermer. More to come on that. Archibald Cox meet James Wright?


  15. - Cosmic Charlie - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:18 am:

    Rich, I agree that the emails alone “ain’t much” but what is a potentially bigger deal is that according to the S-Times, Stermer then instructed David Vaught to do research on Quinn’s budget cutting prowess. This research was at the behest of the campaign and therefore a big no no.


  16. - Anon - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:21 am:

    Maybe Stermer quit because he was fed up with Quinn’s continuing political ineptitude, and firing Wright in such a transparent way was the last straw?

    The email investigation as the basis of the whole firing really seems unlikely though. It doesn’t strike me as that serious.


  17. - VanillaMan - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:22 am:

    When caught, admit a misdemeanor in order to cover any real crimes. Smarter than that, confess to the misdemeanor to show that you are being honest and open so if someone starts exploring further, your credibility on the issue can prevent any future charges.

    Always stay ahead of the hounds. Resign before you end up in jail.

    Thats my take.

    Oh, and this only further confirms that Quinn just sucks at being a governor.


  18. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:25 am:

    === It almost sounds like Stermer was looking for an exit strategy, and he decided to grab on to this. ====

    I had the same thought.


  19. - Amalia - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:25 am:

    and here i was hoping that the Tribune headline
    mixed up Chief of Staff and Operating Officer…..


  20. - More Courage - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:30 am:

    The emails were clear violations. Any first year staffer should know better.

    Even more troubling, this does not seem to be a first for the Quinn folks:

    November 2009: A top aide to Gov. Quinn has left her $119,158-a-year job amid a state government probe into whether she had done political work on state time.


  21. - Tony - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:31 am:

    Maybe Stermer was more involved with early release than first thought and now that he’s gone this paves the way for Randle’s exit.


  22. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:42 am:

    If the only thing this fella did was make a few emails on the wrong device, even this staunch Republican would admit that’s the smallest of small potatoes, let’s call ‘em hash browns, made smaller yet by his own admission to the oversight body. I’d give him a complete pass if there was no long-term trend.

    That said, I agree with those who think the guy wants out, he might as well get a leg up on all the other Democrats that will be looking for a job in January. If that is not the reason for him leaving, there is something more afoot that the media needs to hunt down.


  23. - Old Milwaukee - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:47 am:

    I think Jerry Stermer is a decent man who got mixed in with an idiot Governor. It is a shame.


  24. - soccermom - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:52 am:

    Jerry Stermer is an extraordinary human being whose wholehearted commitment to the people of Illinois is beyond question. It is deeply troubling that he is leaving this administration. His own person ethical standards can be judged by his decision to report himself to the OEIG for three misguided emails– three out of how many thousands? Anyone who knows Jerry knows that he sets the highest standards for himself. He will be hugely missed. A good man, a great public servant.


  25. - PPHS - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:54 am:

    Yes, Sterner is a good guy. I hope he hasn’t been drug into something like Blago’s brother was.


  26. - Ghost - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 11:01 am:

    Anonymous 10:25 is I as well


  27. - Cosmic Charlie - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 11:02 am:

    The question is why wait months to report yourself? Did he just wake up one morning and all of a sudden think “Hey, wait a minute, those emails I sent two months ago were improper.”? Or is it more likely that they got wind of something and decided to pre-empt it? Perhaps Stermer’s emails were FOIA’d by the press or opposition researcher and when the Gov’’s office reviewed them before turning them over they saw there was a problem. I hate to speculate on these things because usually they are blown out of proportion but I feel the whole self-reporting angle is a red herring.


  28. - Loop Lady - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 11:06 am:

    Cassandra: you’re joking, right? If not, you’re a real piece of work today…


  29. - Sacks Romana - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 11:18 am:

    From the perspective of a political outsider, the appointment of Jerry Stermer was one of the first, best things that made me truly excited about Quinn’s administration early on. I had a lot of optimism that Quinn would be able to get the CTBA tax and budget plan passed, and the appointment of Stermer, who was a tireless advocate for it at Voices, really made me think things were on the right track. Then came all of Quinn’s half-baked, watered-down proposals that raised taxes, but without balancing the budget. None of this seems relevant to Stermer’s leaving, but this somehow feels like the last chapter of “Quinn the Reformer”. Why let a REAL reformer resign over something so minor, and at the same time keep Randle. It’s just sad.


  30. - Team Sleep - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 11:25 am:

    I attempt to break down everything as simply as I can. I remind myself that many of my instructions or explanations are directed towards my toddler and my small dog. As such, I think this was merely an admittance of wrongdoing that the Governor’s top staffer could actually correct. Yes, MGT Push was a nightmare and yes, the OMB pay raises were bad press during a recession. But firing a black agency director when you need the black vote and getting rid of or severely reprimanding your budgeteer and his staff could have been the nail in the coffin. Perhaps Quinn and Mr. Stermer put their heads together and thought this was a better plan of action than dragging this out like every other botched idea of Quinn’s.


  31. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 11:35 am:

    once again the adage, No good deed goes unpunished” is proven in Illinos politics. Jerry Stermer is or was the most ethical person in the state. He makes a minor mistake, turns himself in and then resigns so not to be a distraction in the election. There is more tothis story than we have seen hope somebody ferrets it out. SOmehting dont smell right.


  32. - Sick - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 11:47 am:

    Whatever
    ==Stermer directed Vaught to use his entire office to address Kuppers request==

    Government bodies must provide answers/accountability. The Quinn campaign, just like any campaign (or person, or newspaper or interest group) can request information and is entitled to recieve that information.

    It really “ain’t that much”.


  33. - George - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 11:53 am:

    Sacks - CTBA’s proposals wouldn’t have filled the budget deficit either.


  34. - Reality Check - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    To the fake “reality check” at 10:15 a.m., kindly get your own handle. Thanks.


  35. - Robert - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 12:02 pm:

    what a mess indeed, and strange timing, with losing AKPD as well. classy/appropriate statement by Stermer; I wonder if he was agreeing with AKPD too much for Quinn’s tastes?


  36. - Louis Howe - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 12:04 pm:

    When inconsequential infractions become career terminating events, the Goo-Goo Gods have gone too far. We are making serious abuse of power issues appear less important when we equate forwarding an email request for state budget information with Blago withholding state funds from a Children’s Hospital. Enough already!!!


  37. - dave - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 12:11 pm:

    The question is why wait months to report yourself?

    He didn’t. It just months for the IG to do his job.

    with losing AKPD as well.

    They didn’t lose AKPD, they fired them.


  38. - Easy - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 12:26 pm:

    I now believe that even Proft could have beaten Quinn (aka the former reformer). The question now isn’t if Brady wins, it is now by how much.

    The narrative has totally gone against Quinn and with Blago part deux convening next month, Quinn is done.


  39. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 12:40 pm:

    ==Quinn removed [Executive Inspector General James A. Wright] Aug. 13, the same day the governor was briefed by his staff about findings against Stermer by the executive inspector general.==

    The same day. What I want to know is which happened first? If the Gov. was briefed in the morning and canned Wright in the afternoon, that’s bad for Quinn. If Quinn canned Wright in the morning and was briefed about the findings in the afternoon, it’s a coincidence. Timing is everything.


  40. - envelop - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 12:41 pm:

    Illinois is on the threshold of becoming a politically “failed state”


  41. - showmethemoney - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 12:47 pm:

    This is why I always bought and paid for my own cell phone when I could have had the state purchase it. WIth all the nonsense that goes on between government and politics you would think a man in his position would have followed the same path. All this could have been avoided.


  42. - Splitters - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 12:51 pm:

    Quinn is doomed from third party splitters and an inability to execute a plan longer than 48 hours in duration.

    Brady is a goofball who is unrealistic about the budget, has a shaky record on his business acumen, is a shill for Walmart, believes in creationism and that it should be taught in schools. Quinn should be doing the Flemenco on him in the polls, considering all of this.

    That he is struggling is because he can’t commit to one direction, he’s Governor Hamlet, better at re-acting than pro-acting.


  43. - Budget Watcher - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 12:55 pm:

    I don’t believe the supposed ethics transgressions are the real reason he’s stepping away. There’s a lot of bad karma coming from the Quinn campaign and when your PR firm and COS resign within days of each other, you got to speculate that they’re jumping ship before it sinks. Reinforces the idea that the Governor is out of his depth.


  44. - dave - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 12:58 pm:

    when your PR firm and COS resign within days of each other

    Once again… the PR firm was fired, they didn’t resign.


  45. - Jake from Elwood - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 1:11 pm:

    Methinks there is more to follow on this story.
    Just a hunch.


  46. - MrJM - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 1:16 pm:

    Bottom line: Quinn campaign once again off message.

    – MrJM


  47. - unspun - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 1:19 pm:

    Stermer, as an honorable man, sacrificed his job for what he believes is the greater good. Of course he technically violated the ethics law…so he immediately reported his acts upon discovery. It’s too bad that good actors like Stermer get buried in our hyperethical climate.
    Good luck Jerry, not that you’ll need it. You served Illinois and its people well, and with honor. How refreshing it was to work with you over the past couple of years!


  48. - 4 percent - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 1:28 pm:

    1. Is Jerry now on the payroll of the Quinn campaign?

    2. By resigning, did Stermer stop the public airing of the ethics report? Not sure of the law but doesn’t it say that Inspector General reports are only made public when there are findings and action? By resigning, does this stop the process and keep all reports sealed?


  49. - cassandra - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 1:33 pm:

    Loop Lady,

    You can’t deny the appearance of impropriety. In a state like Illinois, after nearly 12 years of Ryan/Blago, you’d think that avoiding the appearance of impropriety would be a high priority for Quinn-or any governor who followed Ryan and Blago.

    It’s possible that the paperwork for Wright’s firing was already in process for that date, or that he dropped off the report on the way out the door. But if that is the case, why don’t they tell us. Until the administration explains, we are left with an image of Wright making his report and getting fired.

    And if Quinn fired an inspector general because he brought in a negative report on a subordinate,
    even if those conclusions are open to debate, yes, he should resign. Perhaps governors should not have the power to either appoint or fire inspectors general…in Illinois, at least, I see a conflict of interest right there.


  50. - Responsa - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 1:34 pm:

    ==Quinn campaign once again off message==

    MrJM, what message would that be?


  51. - Rich Miller - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 1:39 pm:

    CV, as I’ve told you before, that guy was on campaign payroll last year, not state payroll. Has been for a while. You’re banned. Goodbye.


  52. - George - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 1:59 pm:

    I have a question, Rich - Where did we get the information that the Governor was briefed on the report? Was that from his press office?

    Something smells fishy here - a lot like a typical spurned employee.


  53. - George - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 1:59 pm:

    Ha! I stand corrected.

    Seems we are getting that information from Gov’s statement.


  54. - fact checker - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 2:19 pm:

    So IG Wright is fired on August 13, which is a Friday.

    The new IG is appointed on August 15, which is a Sunday. How many people normally get hired on a Sunday?


  55. - Loop Lady - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 2:42 pm:

    Cassandra: Quinn fired Wright because of a negative report on a subordinate? And you know this is true because? More like Pat fired IG because he found out that Stermer did this awhile back and thr OIG office did not act with due haste…remember: Pat Quinn is not Rod Blagojevich sweetie…not even close…


  56. - Elder - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 2:52 pm:

    Jerry Stermer is one of the most honest and decent men in public service. This is not a partisan statement - it is a statement of fact.

    The big mistake was not getting rid of Vaught, a Blago holdover, a long time ago. If he was the ethics guy under Blago, what does that say? It looks to me like he sat on this for 9 months, and when it looked like he was to be replaced, dropped “the bomb”.

    Stermer fell on his sword.

    Only, ONLY, in Illinois can a guy like Stermer go down for ethics violations, while trying to swim in this SWAMP!!!! Talk about Alice in Wonderland Through the Looking Glass….. SHEESH!!!!!!


  57. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 2:53 pm:

    Insanity at its finest?


  58. - soccermom - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 2:54 pm:

    Elder — I think you meant Wright, not Vaught.


  59. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 3:09 pm:

    The tale is more bizarre, upon reflection.

    The idea that the Chief of Staff for the Governor of Illinois would feel compelled to resign over a few emails is ludicrous.

    Maybe he saw his out, maybe there’s something more, I don’t have a clue. But there’s no way on God’s green earth that he resigned over this mickey-mouse ethic violation.

    Pat, do us all and yourself a favor: Don’t appoint a commission to investigate. Just say what happened, move on and get to work.


  60. - Conservative Veteran - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 3:11 pm:

    Rich, I never read that information, about Kevin Artl, before today. Thanks for telling me.


  61. - soccermom - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 3:22 pm:

    Wordslinger —

    You know I love you, but you’re wrong. Jerry is so incredibly scrupulous that he would resign over something like this. I am not at all surprised by this — it’s absolutely characteristic of his incredibly (I would say unrealistically) high standards of ethical behavior.


  62. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 3:37 pm:

    Soccermom, like I said, I don’t have a clue. But if you’re correct, what’s the deal with the timing? How, months after the fact, does it splash all over the front page?

    The revealed story is so small, it’s infinitesimal.


  63. - A Citizen - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 3:48 pm:

    Stermer is indeed ethical enough to have offered his resignation over this - It’s a shame though that Quinn wasn’t man enough to NOT accept it!


  64. - soccermom - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 3:50 pm:

    Wordslinger —

    It splashes because SOMEBODY leaked the report to the Sun-Times on Friday.

    Gee, I wonder who has access to OEIG reports? And I wonder if there are any rules about making them available to media?

    And I wonder why it would take eight months to investigate three emails?


  65. - anon - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 3:54 pm:

    Soccermom is right. Stermer is an A plus public servant. It is unfortunate that Illinois lost someone who has always put public interest first. Quinn should be commended on the choice. What other governor has hired someone who would have reported himself. Best of luck, Jerry Stermer. Thanks for all you did.


  66. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 3:57 pm:

    amen A Citizen!!! now i hear art turner is under consideration to replace stermer. what goes around comes around


  67. - moby - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 4:10 pm:

    Stermer’s a good guy and I am sorry to see him go. I worked with him on one issue and he was honest, clear, and progressive in his approach. This is a very important job, the second most important executive position in the state. I wonder if the governor has asked Art Turner? It is a natural fit, if Turner would be willing to take on a new challenge.


  68. - JLW - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 4:27 pm:

    Jerry Stermer, a man of unfailing integrity, honesty and service to the community, is exactly what Illinois government needs. The sad paradox is that a man of his ethical character, will now have his reputation dragged through the mud because in a trumped up “ethics probe” over three little emails that he brought to light. It’s a travesty and a sad day for the people of Illinois. It just goes to show that if you’re honest there is no place for you in politics.


  69. - cassandra - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 4:42 pm:

    Loop Lady..

    We’ll never know, I guess, because now that Stermer has, as others pointed out, fallen on his sword, this is going to go away. I doubt Brady will make a big deal out of it, other than the occasional dig. The new, more sophisticated Brady, that is.

    It will indeed be interesting to see who Stermer’s replacement is. Who would take it for a possible four months and a week. A youthful person needing a resume boost, perhaps? Maybe we could get Brad Tusk back. He was actually kind of smart.


  70. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 5:54 pm:

    Stermer is indeed an A+ guy and this is the ultimate ticky tack violation which should not have warranted resignation. That said, Stermer was the wrong guy for this job all along. The larger problem though is that the governor of the fifth largest state in the country currently has no Chief of Staff, no Communications Director, no Press Secretary.

    Pat gets to do what he likes which is run his own show.

    And as for AKPD, they were fired as they should have been long ago. Like many of Pat’s decisions, this was a good move, executed waaaaaay too late. But, deserved or not, AKPD’s amazingly class-less statement is particularly stunning given their 20 year relationship with PQ. All they had to do was agree on a generic statement and be done with it. Shameful.


  71. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 6:00 pm:

    1. The idea that everyone in state government should be under suspicion is ridiculous. I don’t know Stermer but everyone who does thinks he’s a great guy. Nuff said. The commenters who are casting stones at the guy should cease and desist.

    2. It is a violation of the state ethics law to disclose the results of an investigation to anyone, let alone the press. This has been a big part of the “ethics training” state employees have had to endure. Whoever leaked the report to the SunTimes violated the law. Will anything ever happen to that person? Not likely.


  72. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 6:52 pm:

    What’s with the eulogy for Stermer? If what everyone is saying is true, there’s no way he should have resigned over this nonsense.

    Cui buono? He’s off a sinking ship.


  73. - soccermom - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 6:52 pm:

    So what is a greater ethics violation? Hitting “reply all” from your state email account on a Sunday afternoon after a 60-hour workweek? Or leaking a confidential report to a newspaper reporter for clearly political purposes?


  74. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 7:02 pm:

    The point is, Stermer’s actions don’t require resignation or even explanation. An email has no value whatsoever. Who cares?

    I hang out a little bit with the Fenwick Mafia in the city and suburbs. The scuttlebutt among that crew is that Pat and his brother the basketball coach are running the whole show with no real delegation and a remarkable contempt for the opinions of others.

    How else do you explain a front-page “ethics” story on Stermer? In this state?


  75. - Toast - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 7:07 pm:

    These are not mistakes! Our last two Governors have been indicted. One is in prison and another will be there soon. Both accussed of mixing government with politics. How can you be Chief of Staff to the Governor and make that mistake? What is the timing of him turning himself in to the AG or OEIG? Maybe around the time Carolyn Brown Hodge’s computer was confiscated and she was forced to resign for the very same thing. You think maybe he was worried about what they might find? This administration in inept, incompetent and an embarrassment. Welcome Governor Brady!


  76. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 7:15 pm:

    DuPage Dave,

    “It is a violation of the state ethics law to disclose the results of an investigation to anyone, let alone the press.”

    Sounds like a good state ethics rule change to me. Remind me why a successful ethics charge is kept secret…

    But on the flip side, this guy, it is unfortunate this guy made this mistake. He should have been cleared, but no common sense is allowed in government anymore so…


  77. - Refried Beans - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 7:16 pm:

    On a positive note I would like to congratulate Jesus and Homer for “taco time”! I heard they were nominated for best new vendor at the fair. Congrats Boys.


  78. - call me whatever - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 7:36 pm:

    DuPage Dave: I thought the results of “founded” investigations were published. Not to mention, once an investigation starts, it generally does NOT stop at the original accused.


  79. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 7:41 pm:

    No one in the State of Illinois would consider a few emails an “ethics” violation. This ain’t our first rodeo.

    The mystery of this story is why Stermer would so quickly and willingly throw himself on his sword for something so small.


  80. - Sad for Illinois - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 7:54 pm:

    I’ve known Jerry Stermer for over 15 years. If I ever got into real trouble, he’s one of the four or five people I’d call for advice. I agree with the posters above that Jerry Stermer is an extraordinary human being whose wholehearted commitment to the people of Illinois is beyond question. His ethical standards can be judged by his decision to report himself to the OEIG for three very minor emails, out of thousands. Jerry is one of those few people who is both smart and ethical. He will be missed, and it’s Illinois’ loss. A good man, a great public servant. I’m just really sad that a great career is going to end this way. It’s why good people refuse to go into public service.


  81. - in-the-know - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 8:36 pm:

    Wake up people….Wright knew this was coming and held onto the info about Stermer until the ax came down on him. He wasn’t doing his job, he was retaliating. He’s a real piece of work….with more bad “connections” than most would think…afterall, he was a Blago appointee.


  82. - Give Me Break - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 8:53 pm:

    I’ve known Jerry Stermer for years in both his public and private jobs. He is the most honest guy in the world and yes, he would step down over three emails. He has always held himself to a high standard. This is a loss for Illinois. Anyone on here saying anything else simply has never worked with Jerry and does not know him.


  83. - Macoupin Observer - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 9:06 pm:

    The Average Joe state employee would be fired for this type of Email transgression and therefore the higher-ups should be subject to the same. Guess we’ll never know if Quinn would have let him go? Maybe all future Illinois Governors should mandate that any/all Emails from their own campaign Email addresses (and political consultants) be blacklisted from all State Email systems. Technology should be able to help remedy this and they as leaders of our State need to be proactive as can be.


  84. - Really? - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 9:36 pm:

    There is a bigger story here and it will be breaking in the near future. That said, we need to ask one important question: Why does the Inspector General report to the Governor’s Office? Shouldn’t the IG report to the legislature like William Holland (Auditor General)? Is it just me, or does anyone else find it strange that Mr. Wright did not conduct any investigations into what was going on with his old boss (Blago)? I mean he can write a report on three emails, but never found anything to question under Blago?


  85. - Northside Landslide - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 9:57 pm:

    I hope Bill Brady has learned a very important lesson. When he takes over the Governor’s Office in January 2011: Do not just clean out some of the Blagojevich and Quinn holdovers, you must fumigate and clear our every political appointee no matter how far down the chain! Not just Agency Directors; he needs to liquidate every Deputy Director,Executive Director, Secretary,Board Member, Commission Member, manager, secretary, or administrative staff that is not covered by a collective bargining agreement!!!


  86. - truthman - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:25 pm:

    Simple Answer folks. Let’s see the IG Report!!


  87. - Moon Child - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:27 pm:

    Let me join the chorus of Stermer admirers. Jerry Stermer has been noting but a solid public servant. We are taking about a man dedicated his career to advocating for children at a non-for-profit and in his late sixities came to the state in the most difficult of times. For him it has never been about power or personal gain.

    We all know how slowly state government moves. There is no way that they would have someone so quickly able to move into the OIG post unless it had been works for some time. Even if that was not the case, it sure sounds like the Blago OIG knew he was getting axed (which should have happened long ago)and waited many months to render an opinion. Hmm…the fact this story was mysteriously leaked after his firing is too obvious. Why else would he have waited months to render an opinion about whether there was an ethical breach. Wright sounds like a real scum. Good riddance.


  88. - Emily Booth - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 10:32 pm:

    Using state email for campaign/political purposes is an ethics violation whether it’s one email or thousands. I seem to remember a retired CPD commander who went to the State Police and was terminated for using a state copy machine for campaign flyers. All new hires go thru orientation which includes ethics training. Ignorance is not a valid excuse.


  89. - like lemmings to the sea.... - Monday, Aug 23, 10 @ 11:28 pm:

    With due respect there is not a minor issue. Chief of Staff Stermer had the same ethics training all state employees are required to have and political activity on state time or using state equipment is an ethical violation. Other state employees (including Gov’s office staff)have been fired for doing the same thing. Stermer was most likely involved in that decision.

    I would agree that one email out of thousands is stupid or a mistake. Three emails become a pattern of behavior. There is also the question of the campaign sending emails to the state email account. Presumably that could have (and should have) been stopped after the first time. Each email takes a certain amount of state time to read.

    Sending directions to GOMB via Vaughn to develop budget information for the campaign is a further violation of the ethical standards (directing campaign work to be done on state time and with state resources). If Vaughn did not report the email(s) he should also be under investigation.

    The statement made that campaign or anyone could request such information is true. However most people would not direct it to the Governor’s Chief of Staff who would not direct the Budget Director to develop the information right away.

    As for the time period between sending the emails and reporting them, (I suspect but don’t know) after a high level Quinn staffer was dismissed for performing campaign work on state time in November 2009, Chief of Staff Stermer might have instituted an audit to see if anyone else was guilty of similar offenses and his own name came up. His choice at that point was to to pull a Ryan and bury the information or to disclose it. Points for doing the honorable thing.

    As far as the OEIG report taking so long, eight months is VERY quick for OEIG. I have reviewed some investigations that have taken years to resolve and am aware of a few that date back to the begining of OEIG.


  90. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 24, 10 @ 6:15 am:

    The bigger story is the witch hunt this OEIG has been on over minor transgressions of a political nature against low level employees who have already been disciplined by their Agencies. It was time for someone to do something about this Gestapo agency.


  91. - soccermom - Tuesday, Aug 24, 10 @ 6:46 am:

    Here’s a statistic for you: “Many in state government’s political circles were stunned Monday by Stermer’s decision to quit Quinn’s staff over three “inadvertently” sent political e-mails, particularly given that Wright reported scouring 38,700 of Stermer’s e-mails looking for a political angle.”
    Three out of almost 39,000.


  92. - Cool Hand Luke - Tuesday, Aug 24, 10 @ 8:31 am:

    The resignation of Jerry Stermer over some “petty mistakes” regarding his state cell phone use is “the art of distraction” and “sleight of hand” at it’s highest art form. Granted, Pat Quinn needs all of the distractions and sacrificial lambs that he can get to “throw under the bus” but this latest one by Quinn is definitely a poor choice. Somebody (anybody?) please offer a helping hand to guide poor Pat Quinn from now until November 2nd. The other 49 states already have more than enough comedic material for SNL with Rod.


  93. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 24, 10 @ 8:55 am:

    ===The Average Joe state employee would be fired for this type of Email transgression ==

    Wrong.


  94. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Aug 24, 10 @ 8:55 am:

    === “That ain’t much”

    Really? The article leads us to believe Stermer directed Vaught to use his entire office to address Kuppers request. ===

    This isn’t an ethics failure, it was a governing failure.

    In any other administration, numbers backing up the Governor’s budget cuts would have been all over the state website, infused in every News Release, and the lede in every public statement by Quinn.

    The information Stermer requested should have been publicly available from the get-go.


  95. - Macoupin Observer - Tuesday, Aug 24, 10 @ 12:15 pm:

    How so RM?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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