On Tuesday March 30 th 2010 the Village of Justice convened the first known hearing of the Ethics Committee.  A letter was presented several months ago to Village President Kris Wascowicz regarding an alleged ethics violation from Trustee Mike Murray.  Documents listed for the “Friends of John Fairman” campaign with the Illinois State Board of Elections show Trustee Murray listed as the treasurer for Mr. Fairman’s 2010 campaign for county commissioner, and Mr. Murray’s cell phone number from the Village of Justice was listed as the contact number.  The documents were signed by Trustee Fairman and submitted to the Illinois State Board of Elections.  At the hearing Ronald Belmonte served as the prosecutor assigned by the Village of Justice and presented a stack of cell phone records from the Village of Justice, however, none of these were broken down by phone number and it was not determinable which phone number made what calls on the records.

Mr. Rusch spoke on behalf of a group of residents to the point of the intent of listing a cell phone number from the village on the forms, and the need to hold our elected officials to a higher standard as they are representing our community.  His suggestions were that if Trustee Murray was found to be guilty, to ask the committee to recommend that the Village Board request an apology from Mr. Murray, make a resolution to condemn this abuse, and ask that Trustee Murray repay any calls made back to the Village.

Mr. Murray and Mr. Fairman spoke on Mr. Murray’s behalf.   Mr. Murray said that he never saw the forms or signed the forms and therefore had no knowledge of his number being listed and flatly denied using his village paid cell phone for Mr. Fairman’s campaign. While Mr. Fairman took up the point that his campaign was rather large and he didn’t supervise everything all the forms that were filed by his campaign staff and that Mr. Murray was acting in treasurer in name only as a “favor” to him.   They both stated that they had no idea how that cell phone number was determined to be used and no one from Mr. Fairman’s campaign staff was in attendance to help to try to clear this up. Mr.Fairman also went onto say that the topic of Mr. Murray’s high cell phone use was a topic in committee previously and he had given him a cell phone from his campaign to use. Mr. Murray stated that his work caused him to travel frequently and admitted to using his village issued cell phone for personal calls, but added that “All the trustees do” but that he tries to keep his to a minimum.

The three panel members of the Ethics Committee acted in a highly professional manner through the entire proceedings. They asked pointed questions and made several requests to both parties for clarification on matters to be sure they understood what was being presented to them.  Ultimately the committee returned from their closed session and made a short statement finding in favor of Trustee Murray.

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