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03/31/87 Arenda Troutman, v. Malinda C. Keys

March 31, 1987





509 N.E.2d 453, 156 Ill. App. 3d 247, 108 Ill. Dec. 757 1987.IL.391

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Marjan Staniec, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE HARTMAN delivered the opinion of the court. SCARIANO, P.J., and STAMOS, J., concur.


Respondent, Malinda Keys, a candidate for alderman in the 20th ward of the city of Chicago (candidate), appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County which found that she had falsely executed her statutorily prescribed "statement of economic interests" and enjoined the Chicago board of election commissioners (election commissioners), sitting ex officio as the Chicago officers electoral board (electoral board), from placing her name on the ballot in the February 24, 1987, municipal election.

The issues raised on appeal are whether: (1) the electoral board had jurisdiction to inquire into the substantive validity of the candidate's statement of economic interests; (2) the circuit court had original jurisdiction to inquire into the substantive validity of the statement; and (3) the candidate's statement was false under the provisions of the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act (Ethics Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 127, par. 601-101 et seq.)

We have already ruled upon the issues presented in this appeal so that our decision would be timely in terms of the February 24, 1987, election. As indicated in our order of reversal issued February 17, 1987, our reasons were to be set forth in an opinion, which now follows.

On December 15, 1986, the candidate timely filed her aldermanic nominating petitions with the election commissioners, having attached the receipt issued by the county clerk of Cook County signifying that she had filed her statement of economic interests with the county clerk. Arenda Troutman, the petitioner-objector (objector), a resident of the 20th ward, filed a verified objector's petition with the election commissioners on December 22, 1986, challenging numerous nominating petition signatures and contending that "[the] Statement of Economic Interests filed by the candidate [was] false, perjorious [ sic ], null and void" in that it failed to disclose her employment by the city of Chicago's "Office of Professional Standards." The objector contended that the office of professional standards, which was under the supervision of the Chicago police board, was a unit of government separate and distinct from the unit of government in which the candidate was seeking office as alderman, namely, the Chicago city council. In response to question number 7 on her statement of economic interests, requiring disclosure of "any unit of government" which had employed her "other than" the unit with which her candidacy was concerned, the candidate had answered "none."

On December 29, 1986, the candidate filed a motion to strike the objections. At a hearing on this motion, held on January 2, 1987, the objector withdrew her objections to the petition signatures but reasserted her objection to the statement of economic interests. The hearing officer, however, found that the electoral board was without jurisdiction to consider objections to the accuracy, truth, or completeness of a candidate's statement of economic interests and, accordingly, recommended to the electoral board that the candidate's name be placed on the February ballot.

On January 7, 1987, the electoral board accepted the hearing officer's recommendation and granted "the Candidate's Motion to Strike and Dismiss the Objector's Petition on the grounds that the . . . Board [lacked] jurisdiction to pass on a filed statement of Economic Interest" and ordered the candidate's name printed on the February ballots. The objector could have sought administrative review of this decision within 10 days under the applicable statute; however, she waited until January 21, 1987, to do so. The circuit court ruled that the complaint for administrative review was not timely filed under the applicable provisions of the Election Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 46, pars. 1-1, 10-10.1) and affirmed the electoral board's findings.

The objector thereafter moved the circuit court for leave to file an amended complaint which sought a temporary restraining order barring the electoral board from placing the candidate's name on the February ballot until an evidentiary hearing could be held concerning the contents of the candidate's statement of economic interests.

On February 4, 1987, the circuit court entered a temporary restraining order enjoining the candidate from "advancing her candidacy for alderman of the 20th Ward until Feb. 5, 1987 at 1:00 p.m. telephone notice having been given," and found that remedies before the electoral board had been exhausted. On February 6, 1987, the circuit court issued a memorandum decision. It again held that the electoral board correctly found that it had no jurisdiction to assess the substantive validity of a candidate's statement of economic interests. The court then ruled that if the electoral board was not possessed of subject matter jurisdiction, the jurisdiction for entertaining challenges to the substance of a statement of economic interests must lie with the circuit court. The court ...

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