IG visits Vienna in wake of ethics complaint
Three officials from the state's Office of Inspector General visited Vienna Correctional Center Oct. 29, following up on an ethics violation complaint against Illinois Supreme Court candidate Gordon E. Maag.
The investigators met with employees who worked the day shift Oct. 4--the day Maag visited the facility, according to a Vienna Correctional Center worker who lodged a complaint against the candidate for distributing campaign literature at the state prison.
The worker said that a 35-minute interview involved reiterating charges made in a previous complaint. During the Vienna visit, Maag was introduced as the Democratic candidate for Illinois Supreme Court Justice and he distributed campaign literature, according to the employee who made a complaint to the state's ethics hotline.
"I simply followed the rules," said the worker. "We're supposed to follow ADs (administrative directives) and that means reporting wrongdoing."
A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Corrections, DeDe Short, said the department could neither confirm nor deny a visit by the Inspector General due to the confidential nature of ethics complaints.
But when the complaint was first made, Short acknowledged Maag handed out campaign literature.
“During an Oct. 4 tour at Vienna Correctional Center, IDOC officials became aware Judge Maag was distributing a business card that was political in nature,” Short said. “Judge Maag was told not to distribute it on state grounds and he complied.”
During an interview last week, deputy Inspector General Deborah Steiner, said the office would not comment on particulars involving ethics complaints.
"We're not going to open our process to anyone. It is confidential," she said.
Steiner also indicated that state judges are subject to sanction by the Illinois Supreme Court's Judicial Inquiry Board, not by the state's new ethics law.
Cindi Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said that while judges answer to a separate set of ethical guidelines and oversight, "theoretically" a judge is subject to abiding by state ethics stands.
"But a prison worker who would introduce the judge as a candidate would be covered by the ethics law," Canary said.
A sweeping ethics reform package which prohibits political activity by state employees on state property passed last year in the General Assembly. It was backed by Governor Rod Blagojevich who also established an 'ethics hotline' for the general public to report wrongdoing to his office.
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Illinois Supreme Court
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Illinois Department of Corrections
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Springfield, IL 62702