Prosecutors: Grayslake D46 board member broke election law
Grayslake Elementary District 46 board member Susan Facklam won't be prosecuted for breaking state law by giving $5 restaurant gift certificates to at least two people she registered to vote before the April election, according to the Lake County state's attorney's office.
Chief Deputy State's Attorney Daniel Jasica confirmed Friday he wrote a letter to Facklam in August with his findings that concluded she committed a felony violation of Illinois election code. His letter capped an investigation that began in April.
"Please do not interpret our decision not to prosecute you at this time as an acceptance or acquiescence to your violation of law," Jasica wrote to Facklam in the letter obtained by the Daily Herald. "Should we learn of additional violations of the election code, be assured that we will not hesitate to prosecute you to the full extent authorized by law."
Facklam, 59, declined to comment. District 46 board President Ray Millington couldn't be reached for comment.
Jasica said "prosecutorial discretion" and lack of a "broader pattern of illegal payments" combined in the decision to not pursue a criminal case against Facklam, a District 46 board member since 2003.
Facklam retained her District 46 board post in the April election, with newcomers Kip Evans and Shannon Smigielski winning the other two seats. Former board President Mary Garcia and Marchell Norris fell short.
Round Lake attorney Gerald Dietz said Friday he pursued the election code accusations against Facklam on behalf of Lake County tea party founder Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt of Round Lake Beach.
Dietz said the accusations developed after an open-records request in March was used to obtain emails from Garcia's account at Northbrook/Glenview Elementary District 30, where she's a teacher.
Among the emails was one identified from Facklam to Garcia on March 2. It was in a package of documents Dietz said he submitted to prosecutors on April 18. In part, the email stated: "Don't let them turn us in; gifts to register to vote is probably illegal!"
Jasica said an investigation showed Facklam violated a section of election code prohibiting any person from knowingly giving, lending or promising to provide money or other valuable consideration to influence someone to vote or register.
State election code also prohibits offering money or something of value to someone to vote for or against a candidate or public question.
"Our office has completed its investigation of the allegations contained in the complaint and concluded that you, in fact, violated ... Illinois election code by giving $5 Culver's gift certificates to at least two individuals in order to influence them to register to vote during this most recent election cycle," Jasica wrote. "This conduct constitutes a Class 4 felony for which you could be prosecuted."
Jasica's letter didn't name who received the gift certificates in exchange for registering to vote.
Facklam, in the email Dietz provided to prosecutors, stated she would have tried to register more students at Grayslake North and Central high schools if her life "wasn't so chaotic." She claimed she once registered 115 students in a day at Grayslake Central.
"We could use that kind of vote totals," Facklam wrote to Garcia in the email.
Prosecutors have recommended Lake County Clerk Willard Helander remove Facklam as a deputy voter registrar because of the election code violation. Helander couldn't be reached for comment Friday.
Jasica wrote the election process "relies upon the honesty and integrity of deputy registrars" and Facklam's recent conduct "tends to subvert that process."
Dietz, a municipal attorney who intends to run in the spring Republican primary for Lake County circuit court clerk, said he initially was reluctant to handle the complaint against Facklam because of his government business. He said what he found changed his mind.
"We can no longer accept this type of conduct from our elected officials, especially from the officials we rely upon to foster our children's notion of how the government is intended to work," Dietz said.