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O'Donaghue v. Cook County Officers Electoral Board

March 10, 1998

BILL O'DONAGHUE PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
THE COOK COUNTY OFFICERS ELECTORAL BOARD AND ITS MEMBERS HONORABLE DAVID D. ORR, HONORABLE AURELIA PUCINSKI, AND HONORABLE RICHARD A. DEVINE, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES, (STEPHANIE A. LEATHERS, OBJECTOR).



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice McNULTY

This case involves construction of article 4A of the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act (the Act) (5 ILCS 420/4A-101 et seq. (West 1996)). Petitioner, Bill O'Donaghue, filed papers to run as a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for the office of member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners for the tenth district. He filed a "Statement of Economic Interests" with the Secretary of State. Stephanie Leathers objected to the papers on grounds that petitioner filed the wrong form in the wrong office. The Cook County Officers Electoral Board (Electoral Board) declared the nomination papers invalid and kept petitioner's name off the ballot.

Petitioner sought judicial review. He appeals from the trial court's Judgement affirming the decision of the Electoral Board. We entered our order affirming the trial court on February 18, 1998. We now explain our reasons for that decision.

The General Assembly enacted article 4A of the Act in fulfillment of the purposes expressed in article XIII, section 2 of the Illinois Constitution of 1970. Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, §2. That section provides:

"All candidates for or holders of state offices and all members of a Commission or Board created by this Constitution shall file a verified statement of their economic interests, as provided by law. The General Assembly by law may impose a similar requirement upon candidates for, or holders of, offices in units of local government and school districts." Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, §2.

The section sharply distinguishes "All *** state offices and all members of a Commission or Board created by this Constitution" from "offices in units of local government." Ill. Const. 1970, art. XIII, §2. For the former group, the constitution itself imposes a filing requirement; for the latter group, the constitution only permits the General Assembly to impose a similar requirement. See Stein v. Howlett, 52 Ill. 2d 570, 578-79, 289 N.E.2d 409 (1972). The constitution defines "nits of local government" to include counties (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VII, §1) and expressly acknowledges members of county boards as holders of offices in units of local government (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VII, §3).

In article 4A of the Act, the General Assembly both clarified the filing requirements for state officers constitutionally required to file economic interest statements and enacted filing requirements for local officers as permitted by the second sentence of the constitution's article XIII, section 2. Mirroring the constitutional language, the Act states:

"The following persons shall file verified written statements of economic interests, as provided in this Article:

***

(c) Members of a Commission or Board created by the Illinois Constitution, and candidates for nomination or election to such Commission or Board.

***

(g) Persons who are elected to office in a unit of local government, and candidates for nomination or election to that office, including regional superintendents of school districts." 5 ILCS 420/4A-101 (West 1996).

The Act adopts the constitution's definition of "nit of local government." 5 ILCS 420/1-120 (West 1996).

Section 4A-102 of the Act establishes distinct requirements for filings by persons required to file under subsection (c) and those required to file under subsection (g). Persons seeking state offices, including those described in subsection (c), must list ownership in, or positions with, any legal entity doing business in the state. Persons seeking local offices, including those described in subsection (g), must list ownership in, or positions with, any entity doing business with the unit of local government. 5 ILCS 420/4A-102 (West 1996); see Stein, 52 Ill. 2d at 579. Section 4A-103 presents the form persons seeking state offices must file, and section 4A-104 presents the form for persons seeking local offices. 5 ILCS 420/4A-103, 4A-104 (West 1996). According to section 4A-106:

"The statements of economic interests required of persons listed in items (a) through (f) and item (j) of Section 4A-101 shall be filed with the Secretary of State. The statements of economic interests required of persons listed in items (g), (h), (i), (k), and (l) of Section 4A-101 shall be filed with the county clerk of the county in which the principal office of the unit of ...


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