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Only in Illinois

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013

* A pastor who served on the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission claims he didn’t know he was violating a law he was supposed to enforce. Great

A former member of the Illinois panel that conducts hearings on alleged ethics violations has been fined $2,500 for attending a prayer breakfast and fundraiser for a political candidate, according to an ethics commission report released Tuesday.

The Illinois Executive Ethics Commission found Stephen Thurston violated state law by attending a March 25, 2011, prayer breakfast and fundraiser for David Moore, who was running for Chicago City Council. Thurston spoke at the breakfast about “Moore’s Christian character, the need for everyone to get involved in the election process, and that Moore would be a good alderman,” the ethics panel said in its report.

State law prohibits commissioners from contributing to political campaigns or even attending a rally for a candidate for a specific post. Moore lost in the April 2011 runoff election for the 17th Ward spot to incumbent Latasha Thomas.

* The full report is here. More from the Trib

Thurston, a pastor at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church, praised Moore as a good alderman for the ward at a “critical time in the African-American community” that suffered from low voter participation, according to the report. Moore lost the runoff election to Ald. Latasha Thomas less than two weeks later.

Thurston’s actions violated state ethics law, which says commissioners are banned from participating in political activities that could influence a candidate’s chances at filling a public office, the report said.

“Although (Thurston) attempted to make a disclaimer limiting the political nature of his comments at the prayer breakfast, he crossed the line into advocacy for a candidate,” the report said.

Moore’s campaign issued a news release after the breakfast naming supporters, including Thurston, but later apologized for using his name.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


13 Comments
  1. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 11:17 am:

    Many people on here may disagree with me, but I see the problem differently. It’s not what Thurston did, it’s that we’ve set up a system where the rules are written and enforced by people who aren’t allowed to play the game. That’s plain silly.


  2. - Leave a Light on George - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 11:21 am:

    If you want to “play” the game don’t take position of umpire.


  3. - Hyperbolic Chamber - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 11:27 am:

    (FYI: The link to the comments for the bond sale delay shows up under the ethics thread)

    Rich — You describe the IPI table as the amount IL pays “ABOVE AAA” rated bonds. Is that correct? If accurate, my question is, what were the actual interest rates that IL paid on bonds going back to 2000? IL is, no doubt, paying higher rates than it would otherwise have to, but is the actual rate ~1.5+% higher than 10 years ago as the IPI chart would suggest? Given the reports of ‘historically low interest rates’, are IL’s lower or higher than prior IL bond sales? If so, by how much?


  4. - Bitterman - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    A mere blip on the FUBAR Radar of Illinois governance.


  5. - Elo Kiddies - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 11:50 am:

    The rule that tripped up Thurston is not “plain silly,” it’s pretty straight forward, just like judges are supposed to separate themselves from partisan politics by not giving to candidates or endorsing candidates, except when they are personally on the ballot. Thurston was not personally on the ballot; he should not have been at the event.


  6. - Former State Employee - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    Was Thurston’s a paid position? If so, how much?


  7. - Newsclown - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 12:40 pm:

    Hey, it’s almost time for the state employees to take their ethics “test” again, isn’t it? It has to be galling to them, constantly hearing from above, “do as we say, but not as we do”.


  8. - Dirty Red - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 1:19 pm:

    = Was Thurston’s a paid position? If so, how much? =

    $37,571
    via: ftp://ftp.illinoiscomptroller.com/Ledger/StateOfficers.pdf


  9. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 1:28 pm:

    You know if it is a paid position (and I am guessing part time at that rate) I think a stay out of politics requirement is not too much to ask.


  10. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 1:51 pm:

    The state ethics system is a joke anyway. There isn’t one state employee that has any confidence that the system works in any way, shape or form.


  11. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 2:36 pm:

    I am not as concerned about this as I am about Quinn’s Plug and Play program for inserting political hacks into the Illinois Department of Corrections System:

    http://www2.illinois.gov/eec/Documents/01.29.2013%20Godinez%20and%20Buscher%20Released%20Report.pdf

    Is this the new guy who is goign to be in charge of the Fast and Furious Early Release Program?


  12. - Emily Booth - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 5:52 pm:

    This is another reason why church and state should be separate.


  13. - DuPage Dave - Wednesday, Jan 30, 13 @ 7:08 pm:

    Thank goodness the Ethics Police have cracked down on unethical prayer. Next stop, unethical thinking.

    Why can’t these guys ever catch a real bad guy, instead of just apprehending the clueless ones?


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