DuPage election panel imposes restrictions on its attorneys

Updated 11/11/2016 4:06 PM
  • Cathy Ficker Terrill

    Cathy Ficker Terrill

  • Jean Kaczmarek

    Jean Kaczmarek

Attorneys for the DuPage County Election Commission will have to keep some of their politics to themselves.

This week, the board that oversees the commission approved a policy that prohibits the agency's attorneys from engaging in certain political activity "on behalf of any candidate under the jurisdiction" of the commission.

"The election commission is interested in good governance," said Cathy Ficker Terrill, the board chairwoman. "Part of good governance is to be free of conflicts. We thought this was the best practice for the future."

Ficker Terrill this summer asked for the policy to be drafted after concerns were raised about Bond, Dickson & Associates -- a Wheaton law firm that represents the election commission -- donating money to DuPage candidates.

According to the new policy, any attorney performing legal services for the commission should refrain from doing certain political activity on behalf of some candidates, including those running for park board, forest preserve board, county board and a countywide seat.

The list of prohibited political activity includes organizing a political event, assisting at the polls on behalf of a candidate, making contributions, distributing campaign literature and working on a campaign.

An attorney who violates the policy could be removed from service to the commission.

"A policy to prohibit the commission's attorneys from participating in politics is long overdue," said Jean Kaczmarek, a Glen Ellyn resident who raised concerns about commission attorneys making campaign contributions. "This is an excellent start to a work in progress."

The policy doesn't prohibit political activity on behalf of municipal, township, state and federal candidates because they're not under the jurisdiction of the DuPage Election Commission.

Initially, commissioners wanted the policy to also apply to themselves and commission staff members. But they learned the employees already are prohibited from engaging in political activity by the commission's ethics ordinance.

The policy can't apply to the three commissioners because they must be a Democrat or a Republican to be appointed to the bipartisan board.

Kaczmarek said the commissioners should voluntarily remove themselves from political activity.

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