Let’s move on to the second installment in our two-part series on soon-to-be-departing Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon.
While the kind of KCSAO issues we discussed last week certainly aren’t unique to any particular political office, what baffles me most is the insistent incompetence on the part of the civil division.
Their utter failure to effectively defend Kane County against any lawsuit is so far beyond the pale that it’s inexplicable. This deficiency culminated in millions of dollars being paid to Maxxam Partners as a result of failing to provide the County Board with reasonable legal counsel pertaining to the incoming Campton Hills rehab center.
As a result of that malpractice – no other word works – the County’s lawsuit liability insurance just doubled. Guess who’ll be paying for that preposterous premium increase every bleepin’ year?
To make matters much worse, for an encore, the Civil Division incorrectly constructed and failed to accurately review an AFSCME labor union contract that will cost Kane County taxpayers an unexpected $1.2 million.
The thing is, some of Civil Division head Joe Lulves’ detractors still say he’s a good attorney, but if you’re unwilling to apply those skills, then it’s even worse than being a bad one.
Let’s not forget about the general arrogance.
After Daniel Rak was acquitted of murdering his father in 2017, the KSCAO continued to post newspaper articles detailing those charges on their taxpayer-funded Facebook page as if the trial never occurred. Despite both myself and an expert trial witnesses explaining that it was blatant libel, the KCSAO persisted in the practice.
And the reason they did is because they knew Rak didn’t have the cash to mount an appropriate lawsuit. It’s yet another stunning failure on the part of our prosecutors to abide by the same law they’re sworn to uphold. They fervently believe that, because they enforce the law, it doesn’t apply to them.
But McMahon’s biggest lapse was the virtual lack of any response to the sexual harassment scandal that proceeded right under his nose. We’ve previously discussed the “Welcoming Committee,” a group of male prosecutors who competed to “date” their newly hired female compatriots.
Then, despite an Attorney General ruling in my favor, The First Ward is still battling to get 255 pages of unredacted sexual harassment complaints against just one former prosecutor. Between being regularly berated and/or harassed by their male supervisors, the number of female ASA’s who resigned as a result is more than a bit staggering.
We’ll cover Lulves’ and the KCSAO’s most recent response to the Attorney General’s directive on Wednesday. Let’s just say they’re using the same sad arguments to completely ignore the ruling and continue to withhold the documents. Attorney Jeff Meyer and I will have to take them to court to force their hand.
To summarize, what are the real reasons McMahon’s fleeing a sinking ship after 10 years in office? That’s easy:
1. He has a real opponent
I’ve briefly spoken with current state’s attorney candidate Jamie Mosser, and she’s an impressive individual who understands how Kane County elections work. That means McMahon would have to mount a real campaign for the first time in his life and he has no interest in that much work or knocking on the thousands of doors a Democrat-leaning 2020 race will require.
2. His relationships with the Chairman and County Board are irretrievable
It goes back to McMahon’s all-encompassing political obliviousness. Every single one of his board battles became an unnecessary self-inflicted wound, and when those spats, particularly the union contract fiasco, finally pushed the board past the tipping point, being state’s attorney quickly lost its luster.
3. Being forced to produce the sexual harassment complaints
Though McMahon and Lulves will stand in my way every step of the way, per the Attorney General’s ruling, they know a Kane County judge will force them to release the complaints well before the 2020 election. And when even the AG’s office referred to some of that content as “salacious,” those revelations would have made it very difficult for McMahon to win reelection. Investigative journalism, when properly applied, still has merit!
So, what’s our State’s Attorney going to do going forward?
Some folks say he’s aiming for Judge Katherine Moran’s soon-to-be vacated seat, but an associate judge has to consistently be on call, work weekends, and perform marriages, and that ain’t Joe McMahon. Put more simply, an associate judgeship would not afford him the capacity to set his own hours like being the state’s attorney does.
My best guess is he’ll try to parlay the press from the Van Dyke prosecution into a lucrative downtown Chicago law firm gig.
But as far as McMahon’s “integrity, professionalism, and commitment” declaration goes? Those are the three words that least describe his ten-year tenure. It’s time for the Kane County voters to elect an outsider who will attack the rampant dysfunction and return the office to some semblance of the standard set by his predecessor John Barsanti.