May 29, 2011 08:52 AM
Working or Working it?
Was ex-Oak Brook village president putting in a full day's work for a full day's pay at his Illinois secretary of state job? State concludes probe, which was prompted by inquiries from the BGA.
By Roberth Herguth/BGA with the Daily Herald
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An internal investigation that sought to determine whether former Oak Brook Village President John Craig was working full-time at his full-time job with the Illinois secretary of state’s office has concluded without a recommendation for discipline or prosecution.
But the probe by the secretary of state’s inspector general, Jim Burns, did not give Craig total absolution.
Investigators found that a year or more of Craig’s "activity" sheets—which Craig is supposed to fill out, detailing the work he did each day—were not submitted to his supervisor, Burns told the Better Government Association.
As a result, that supervisor was suspended for a week without pay, and demoted, Burns said.
In an interview with the BGA, Craig countered that he didn’t fill out the activity sheets this past year because nobody ever gave him any to complete.
And, Craig said, he indeed did account for his 2010 work by filling out other reports—but he said he "destroyed" them in recent months to make space in his state office in Lombard.
"I had no place to put them any more," Craig said.
Burns said he found that curious, since older reports were unscathed.
Even so, the end result, Burns said, is that while he’s had "strong suspicions" about whether Craig has been putting in all of his hours, "suspicions don’t count."
There’s not enough evidence to get prosecutors involved or recommend firing, Burns said. So the case has been forwarded to the agency’s personnel department, which will consult with Secretary of State Jesse White’s top people and make a final determination whether there will be any discipline, said office spokesman Dave Druker.
"We certainly didn’t clear him," Burns said of Craig. "It is what it is."
Craig, 76, angrily disputed doing anything wrong, and insisted he worked hard and honestly for his $64,000 annual salary.
He accused the BGA of being on a witch-hunt against him. "You’re trying to keep on destroying me," Craig said.
Complicating the investigation, Burns said, was that Craig, as part of his job, is supposed to be on the road, traveling to auto dealers to check on license plates and paperwork. In other words, Craig—whose title is "dealer rep"—is not supposed to be at a desk all of the time, so his whereabouts are tough to always know.
Even so, Craig’s supervisor should have kept better tabs on him, and was punished because that wasn’t done, officials said.
There are several dozen other dealer reps on the state payroll, records show.
Investigators reviewed their work documentation, and "it was all in order," Burns said.
Craig currently is on unpaid leave from the secretary of state’s office, which aside from handling vehicle plates also oversees the licensing of Illinois drivers. Craig has worked there since 2001. He was defeated in a tough election in April as he ran for another term as the part-time village president of Oak Brook, an upscale western suburb of just under 8,000 residents.
As part of the internal investigation, Craig and other secretary of state employees were interviewed, Burns said.
The investigation was initiated in March following a series of BGA reports about Craig—and following a request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act for copies of Craig’s timesheets.
Craig faced criticism in recent months for intervening while Oak Brook police inspected a local nightclub that he frequented. He was accused of yelling at officers, threatening to get them fired and poking one in the chest, although Craig has denied it got physical.
Craig also took heat for accepting campaign money from owners of Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse, an establishment that Craig regulated, because aside from being village president he also was Oak Brook’s liquor commissioner. Craig later returned the money.
If and when he leaves the secretary of state’s office, Craig stands to receive a state pension—which would be his third public-sector pension, and the fifth for his household since his wife is drawing two.
This story was written and reported by the BGA’s editor of investigations, Robert Herguth, with the Daily Herald.