Prenzler says Bathon is avoiding ethical violation issues

By Ann Knef | Oct 5, 2006

Q: What are the primary responsibilities of a county treasurer?

A: The treasurer shall receive and safely keep the revenues and other public monies of the county, and all money and funds authorized by law to be paid to him, and disburse the same pursuant to law. The treasurer should serve the taxpayers and taxing districts of Madison County by managing a professional billing, collecting, investing and disbursing system for tax monies and to also insure the safety, liquidity and yield of county funds in the custody of the treasurer.

Q. What professional credentials should a treasurer possess?

A: Although it is not required that a county treasurer be a certified public accountant, I am a registered CPA in Illinois, license number 239005324, having passed the Illinois CPA exam in 1978 on my first atttempt. I am only aware of one county treasurer in Illinois who is a CPA: David Rickert, Kane County Treasurer. Interestingly, based on my research, he runs the most cost-effective county treasurer's office among Illinois' largest 23 counties (see, press releases, Cost Comparison of County Treasurer Offices).

In addition, I graduated cum laude in 1978 from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, earning a B.S. in economics, with a concentration in accounting.

Q. What qualifies you for the office?

A: In addition to having a CPA and my educational background, I have 25 years of experience in finance and business. I have served in many responsible financial positions, from working with the Prudential Real Estate Investment Department, where I was part of a team that invested hundreds of millions of dollars into commercial real estate for major pension fund investors, to serving as VP-Acquisitions with the Fireside Group, an investor based in St. Louis and Madison, Ill., that has purchased and turned around troubled manufacturing companies, saving important American manufacturing jobs.

Beyond credentials and experience in finance, I am committed to professional ethics. I will respect all taxpayers of Madison County, regardless of party affiliation. I pledge that I will listen to views of both citizens and stakeholders and choose the path that is best for taxpayers, not property tax-buying firms.

I will reintroduce ethics and stewardship, and be a good role model for other public officials. The treasurer's office belongs to the taxpayers. Furthermore, I will not hire family members, cronies or other unqualified individuals on the basis of patronage and pledge to treat all employees within the office fairly, with dignity and respect.

Q. How would you distinguish yourself from your opponent?

A: The ethical breaches in the treasurer's office are truly too numerous to mention in the limited space that I have here, but I urge readers to visit my web site at My opponent can attack me personally for a partnership gone bad in the 1980s and that I had to pay a friend's debt, or for clerical errors, but what my opponent cannot attack me for is ethical lapses.

I am running a campaign that is largely financed out of my own pocket. I have not received tens of thousands of dollars from property tax-buying firms who hope to profit off poor taxpayers who cannot afford the high and ever-increasing property tax bills. What I have to offer is ethics and high ideals. Money can't buy ethics.

Q. Your opponent claims your record of personal finances should disqualify you from holding any public office that manages public money. How do you respond?

Twenty five years ago I graduated from college and began working with the Prudential Insurance Real Estate Investment Department, which at that time was managing $25 billion of pension fund assets.

In 1983 I purchased a home with Patrick Hamill, a friend, as an investment, and we co-signed the mortgage. Soon thereafter I returned to Illinois, and my friend assumed the responsibility of managing the property and paying the mortgage.

In the late 1980s my friend encountered financial difficulties, defaulted on the note and the lender looked to me for payment. Although I followed through and paid the $29,000 debt of my friend, Mr. Bathon wishes to make this a campaign issue rather than deal with the ethical violations with which he has been charged. An apology from Patrick Hamill, now a successful Colorado real estate developer, has been posted on my web site

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