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Gregg v. Rauner

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

September 8, 2017

ERIC E. GREGG, Plaintiff-Appellee,
BRUCE RAUNER, Governor of Illinois, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Saline County. No. 15-L-29 Honorable Todd D. Lambert, Judge, presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, State of Illinois, David L. Franklin, Solicitor General, Brett E. Legner.

          Attorney for Appellee Thomas F. Crosby, Winters, Brewster, Crosby, and Schafer, LLC.

          WELCH JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Barberis concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Overstreet dissented, with opinion.



         ¶ 1 The plaintiff, Eric Gregg, filed a complaint against the defendant, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (Governor Rauner), to challenge his removal from the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (IPRB). Governor Rauner moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing, in pertinent part, that his decision to remove Gregg from the IPRB was not judicially reviewable. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, finding that Governor Rauner's decision was reviewable under the Illinois Supreme Court's decision in Lunding v. Walker, 65 Ill.2d 516 (1976), because the IPRB is a quasi-judicial board, independent from the executive branch. Following a trial on Gregg's complaint, the court concluded that Gregg was wrongfully terminated and entered an injunction prohibiting Governor Rauner from interfering or preventing Gregg from exercising his appointed duties with the IPRB and barring Governor Rauner from appointing Gregg's replacement. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         ¶ 2 In May 2012, Governor Patrick Quinn nominated Gregg to be a member of the IPRB. At that time, the Governor's office provided Gregg with a statement of economic interests form to complete, which related to his income and any gifts he had received in 2011. On May 20, 2012, Gregg returned the completed form in which he wrote "None" in the space provided to identify any gift valued over $500.

         ¶ 3 Gregg was not appointed to the IPRB until April 26, 2013, because he was recovering from an illness. Upon his appointment, the Governor's office filed his May 2012 statement of economic interests form with the Illinois Secretary of State's office. He did not complete a statement of economic interests form for calendar year 2012.

         ¶ 4 In September 2013, during Governor Quinn's administration, Charles Will notified a senior legal advisor in the Illinois Department of Corrections that Gregg had failed to list income and a gift received on his statement of economic interests form. According to Will, Gregg had received a medical lift chair as a gift on April 4, 2013, which was not reported on his statement of economic interests form. Ken Tupy, the IPRB's legal counsel at the time, investigated these complaints, but neither the IPRB nor the Governor's office took any action. On November 7, 2013, the Illinois Senate approved Gregg's appointment for a six-year term to end on January 21, 2019.

         ¶ 5 On December 8, 2014, Gregg filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. On December 22, 2014, his bankruptcy attorney filed a form entitled "Chapter 13 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period, " which indicated that Gregg had received a net monthly income of $4027 from operating a business. Gregg signed the document under penalty of perjury, declaring that the information on the form was true and correct.

         ¶ 6 Tupy received a letter from a Belleville News-Democrat reporter, inquiring as to whether the $4027 net income listed on Gregg's bankruptcy filing constituted a violation of section 3-3-1(b) of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/3-3-1(b) (West 2014)), which prohibits IPRB members from engaging in any other business or employment.

         ¶ 7 In August 2015, Gregg's attorney filed an amended Chapter 13 statement of current monthly income form, which attributed the monthly business income to Gregg's wife. On September 16, 2015, Gregg received a letter from Jason Barclay, General Counsel for the Governor's Office, informing him that the Governor's office had received complaints that he had violated the terms of his appointment by receiving outside income and by filing an inaccurate statement of economic interests form.

         ¶ 8 On September 20, 2015, Gregg sent a letter to Barclay, explaining that his bankruptcy was triggered due to delinquent medical bills, that his bankruptcy attorney had inadvertently placed his wife's business's income in "[his] column" on the bankruptcy filing, and that his attorney had acknowledged the clerical error and had filed an amended form to correct the error. The letter also addressed the allegations that he had filed an inaccurate statement of economic interests form. Specifically, the letter explained that a community fundraiser was held on his behalf to offset the cost of his medical bills; that the raised funds were placed in an account with a local church, and he did not have access to the account; that he did not know how much each person had contributed; that the statement of economic interests form was completed on May 20, 2012, during his illness and recovery but before he received the medical lift chair as a gift; and that the information from the Belleville News-Democrat appeared to be supplied by an individual who was terminated from his city employment while Gregg was mayor.

         ¶ 9 On October 2, 2015, Governor Rauner terminated Gregg's appointment with the IPRB for malfeasance or complete incompetence and neglect of duty, explaining that Gregg's response acknowledged and constituted an admission that he had filed a false statement under oath in federal bankruptcy proceedings and that his 2012 statement of economic interests form-which ...

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