'The criminal who did it'?

Last month, Lee County State's Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller, who took office Dec. 1, announced she would allow no political activity in her office.

That's the law, but she felt she had to contrast her policy with her predecessor's. Through a public records request, Sauk Valley Media had found that then-State's Attorney Henry Dixon's secretary created documents related to his campaign with her office computer. Among the documents was a letter from Dixon asking one of Sacco-Miller's contributors why he was supporting her.

State law bars government officials from using their offices and employees for their political campaigns.

The recent scandal isn't the only time that a local agency has been accused of taking part in political activity.

In 2008, the Dixon Police Department website contained a link to the campaign website of then-Lee County State's Attorney Paul Whitcombe, who was seeking re-election..

The city investigated, finding that someone in the department had set up the link "working under the impression that they did not know it was impermissible." The city removed the link.

How did city officials find out about the link?

From none other than Henry Dixon, Whitcombe's opponent, who brought up the issue at a City Council meeting.

After the city completed its investigation weeks later, Dixon said he wasn't satisfied.

"It's the bailiwick of the city. I brought my objections to them and showed it was a criminal offense. They opted not to do anything," Dixon said at the time. "I was hoping Paul Whitcombe would prosecute the criminal who did it."

Dixon, who lost to Sacco-Miller in the November election, hasn't answered questions about the political activity in his office. After Sauk Valley Media revealed it, Sacco-Miller dismissed the secretary, Sandie Cargill.

Sacco-Miller said it's not up to her to investigate the political activity. She said that if a police agency asked for prosecution in the case, she would send the matter to a special prosecutor.

Unlike in 2008, Dixon is not pushing for a prosecution this time. And he's certainly not talking about "the criminal who did it."

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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