Governor Pat Quinn's chief of staff resigned his post Sunday evening over an ethics flap concerning three "politically oriented" emails that were sent from his state-issued account.
Jerry Stermer, 67, Quinn's chief of staff since February 2009, allegedly used his government email to correspond with various parties on behalf of Quinn's reelection bid, which is a no-no, the Sun-Times reports.
Stermer realized at least one of the lapses on his own and on January 12 submitted a complaint against himself to the State Inspector General, who ultimately recommended Attorney General Lisa Madigan file a complaint against him with the state Executive Ethics Commission.
On the day Quinn heard about the findings, August 13, he fired Executive Inspector General James A. Wright. The governor said Wright's removal was unrelated to the report, and that his tenure -- which began under Rod Blagojevich in 2005 -- was up. On Sunday, Quinn's office reaffirmed that the decision to fire Wright had nothing to do with the report.
Wright isn't so sure. He said he is still unclear about the motives behind his ouster and tasked the press with finding out the truth.
Stermer said he resigned mainly because he didn't want his ethics snafu to overshadow the upcoming election.
His infractions read thusly:
- Oct. 11, 2009: Stermer responded to Quinn campaign media consultant John Kupper with a promise to deliver information on the Governor's performance on budget cuts. The email was a premeditated response to a Dan Hynes campaign attack.
- Oct. 12, 2009: Stermer promised he would gather the materials. Moments later he sent an email to Budget Director David Vaught asking for the research.
- Dec. 6, 2009: Stermer was contacted by Quinn campaign staffer Elizabeth Austin for help with on responses to a Chicago newspaper candidate questionnaire. He responded with recommendations.
The Governor's office hasn't indicated a replacement for Stermer.
Opponent Bill Brady's campaign responded to the news with outrage.
“This is yet another stunning report involving the administration of Governor Pat Quinn," said Jerry Clarke, Brady for Illinois Campaign Manager. "Today’s revelation suggests that on the very day Pat Quinn was confronted with evidence by the Inspector General of an ethics violation, Pat Quinn put his political interests before citizens yet again and fired the Inspector General himself. This disturbing report leads to a myriad of questions that the citizens of Illinois deserve to have answered."