Illinois state Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville)
Illinois state Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) had no shortage of questions for a panel of executive inspector generals appearing last week in front of the Senate House Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform.
Wehrli asked the panel if any of them could initiate an investigation involving payroll, or if someone had to first complain before an investigation could be launched. Nathan Maddox, the executive inspector general for the Illinois Secretary of State, said they are allowed to investigate on their own. Joanna Gunderson, the executive inspector general for the Illinois Comptroller's Office, and Susan Haling, the executive inspector general for the Governor's Office, both agreed.
"So you don’t need board approval," Wehrli stated. "As far as statements of economic interest go, those who fail to complete them, is that grounds for termination?"
Hailing said that when that happens, an investigation ensues and a report is made to take action.
"We make sure they are given a direct order to file and if they don’t, then they are subject to discharge," Maddox confirmed.
Wehrli then asked how many investigations each year were done on their own versus how many came from complaints.
"We have no particular statistics, but maybe 10 to 15 percent are initiated by us," Maddox said. "Most are from complaints."
Maddox said that when it comes to ghost payrolling, field personnel are vulnerabilities and they have had two or three individuals in the last five years who were filing time reports but not doing the things they were supposed to be doing.
"We own the cars so we can put tracking devices on them and follow them for a month and see what’s going on and look at time cards to see if they are misreporting their time," Maddox said.
Maddox said that in those cases, supervisors are also held accountable because they sign off on the employees' time cards.
Wehrli asked Caitlyn McEllis of the Attorney General's Office what that office did when they receive an ethics complaint.
"We cannot initiate an investigation until we get a referral," McEllis said.