Mchenry Co. (ECWd) -
Those not familiar with the current problems McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks is facing, please read this article which also links to the Sun-Times breaking story of Jack Franks' current alleged criminal problems.
This coverage is one related to an FOIA we submitted back in October of last year. The request was to the County Auditor for a "copy of all cease and desist letters received from Jack Franks in any capacity. "
The single letter we recieved is most telling. It is clearly a form of intimidation which appears to be a standard pattern with him. One must break down each sentence and analyze it to see it for what it is, intimidation, while at the same time see the hypocrisy of these words.
In Frank's letter, as the attorney who represents financial institutions that do business with the County, of which he is the Chairman, he states: "Your improper and illegal actions will not go uncontested".
What improper and illegal action did the auditor take?
Franks claims that the auditor's asking for action in relation to this resolution was improper. How is asking for action improper? Considering Illinois is one of the most, if not the most corrupt state in the country, most would appreciate it when a public official asks for action to be taken if the concern is a conflict of interest with other public officials.
The resolution in question places county funds into financial institutions that are represented by Jack Franks or his law firm and apparently he is also an Officer of their Board of Directors. Most see that as an appearance of a conflict of interest at a minimum. We see it as a direct conflict considering he is a part-owner in at least one of the banks listed according to his 2019, 2018 and 2017 Statements of Economic Interest.
Considering his most recent SEI shows he still has an ownership interest and is still an Officer of their board of a bank doing business with the county, he has a problem as he "may" be called to vote. "May" be called to vote is a key element in the Officers Prohibited Activities Act that the courts have focused on in determining a violation.
- "You had no legal right to make this request".
There is no law violated when anyone, public official or otherwise, asks a public office holder to do something when it relates to action they can in fact legally take. If it is, then we have lost our Constitutional Republic.
- "if your request would have been carried out, there would have been economic harm to these institutions."
So the auditor's request was not carried out by those she asked. Remember that point.
- "You have intentionally and tortuously interfered with prospective economic gain of these entities."
So now Franks believes a request that was not carried out rose to intentional and torturous interference with "prospective" economic gain? It sounds like an inappropriate allegation by Fanks, unsupported by facts and actually disputed by his own words in the letter.
- "Simply because one who represents these institutes becomes an elected official at the County does not preclude those institutions from continuing to do business with the County."
It does if that elected official "may" be called to vote on such matters and that same official has a direct or indirect financial interest!
- "The proper course of action is for an elected official to recuse himself or herself should there be a potential conflict of interest."
As the elected County Chairman he is bound by law to those powers granted. The proper action for an elected official that is facing a conflict of interest is not as clear as Franks tries to make it. As it relates to his claim an elected official recusing themselves is a proper course of action, we disagree in this case.
As the elected County Chairman, Franks was elected to represent the people. When he places himself in a position of a conflict of interest and then recuses himself, he has created several problems. The first being such a recusal means he failed to represent the people by putting the conflict in front of any possible action by himself. He was not elected to put his conflict ahead of the people's interests. As far as recusal, Franks did no such thing in this case. He actually voted on the matter by casting a vote of "abstain". An abstention vote carries with the majority, meaning if the majority was a yes, then the abstention is a yes. This is known as the Prosser rule established many years ago.
Franks' actions appear to have violated the Counties Code as it relates to him voting at all.
"Such chairman shall not vote on any questions except to break a tie vote."
Franks's voted on the resolution in question according to the minutes. Franks is not following the law applicable to him alone."
When there is a conflict, the Officers Prohibited Activities Act is the law that must be followed to ensure any potential interest is disclosed and conflicts avoided. If Franks "may" be called to vote on a matter that he has a direct or indirect financial interest in, it appears he would be violating the Officers Prohibited Activities Act unless all applicable requirements are met for such an abstention.
- "For you to unilaterally direct our Treasurer to cease doing business with financial institutions has now opened not only yourself, but our County, to potential damages."
Did the auditor ask for action to be taken or direct it? Even if she did direct another officer holder to do something, the fact nothing was done means no one is opened up to any potential damages. This is another pure intimidation line by the political master of intimidation commonly referred to as Lord Franks in McHenry County.
- "As you may know, our law office represents a number of financial institutions throughout McHenry County and the State and your unilateral actions would penalize our clients and cause them great economic harm."
This one statement could be a first-year law class on conflicts and intimidation. So we have gone from a person asking for action, to no action being taken, to now accusing the auditor of unilateral actions that would penalize his clients and "cause" great economic harm.
He confirms he has a financial interest in these firms doing business with the County. That would appear to trigger certain elements of the Officers Prohibited Activities Act. Maybe the ISP should include this issue into their investigation into the alleged sexual misconduct matters he is being investigated for.
- "Your improper and illegal actions will not go uncontested."
There is nothing improper about an official asking for something of another office. Nor is there anything illegal about that request. This is another straight-up form of intimidation.
- "We are prepared on behalf of the financial institutions that we represent, to sue you personally in your individual capacity as well as in your capacity as Auditor for the County."
We challenge Jack Franks of 'franks gerkin mckenna' to produce one record from their clients that point to them instructing this law firm to send such a letter to the Auditor of McHenry County.
It appears Franks has used his position as County Chairman to attempt to influence county decisions by changing his hat to be the big tough guy lawyer that will take action for his clients that benefit him financially if you don't do what he says. This has been the standard form of behavior with Franks for years.
- "Please let this letter serve as a cease and desist warning to you. Please understand that should you not resolve this issue, our response will be swift and we will seek all available remedies."
There is nothing for the auditor to resolve. She made a request and has every legal right to make that request, just as any citizen does. In fact, we suggest all of those that have any concern over conflicts of interest in general, attend the next County Board meeting and make a request to the County Board that they select financial institutions that do not have public officials on their board, as owners, or represented by county officials that may vote on the matter.
If Franks was truly concerned about conflicts, transparency, and doing the right thing as he once told me was his primary goal, he has two simple solutions; resign from office or remove himself from all financial ties to those companies doing business with the County of which he is the Chairman. Problem solved!
The bully should resign and work on putting his efforts towards a potential criminal defense team of lawyers as it appears he is going to need them.
You can read his intimidation letter below or download it at this link.