Petition to Remove Election Commissioner Neal

 Honorable Timothy C. Evans
Chief Judge
Circuit Court of Cook County
50 W. Washington, Rm. 2600
Chicago, IL 60602

 March 30, 2012

Dear Chief Judge Evans:

Illinois statute 10 IlCS 5/6-23 provides the Circuit Court of Cook County with the sole authority to remove a Chicago election commissioner if 25 or more registered voters submit a signed and sworn affidavit with satisfactory cause. Herein are signed and sworn affidavits by more than 25 registered Chicago voters that show satisfactory cause to remove Chicago Election Commissioner Langdon D. Neal.

Twenty-two (22) exhibits substantiate the petitioners’ satisfactory cause for the removal of Election Commissioner Neal. Each exhibit is labeled when it is referenced and listed at the end of this petition. The exhibits themselves were submitted to you with the petitions on a compact disk (CD) except for Exhibit 1, which was printed and submitted to you on paper.

On Dec. 9, 2011, the Circuit Court of Cook County reappointed Langdon D. Neal to his seventh term as election commissioner for the Chicago Board of Elections (CBOE). Cook County pays CBOE Chairman Neal’s $91,223 annual salary. In addition, Cook County pays for Neal’s dental, health, life, Medicare, and vision insurance. Cook County provides yearly funds for CBOE Chairman Neal to direct the CBOE’s activities and employees. The CBOE’s portion of the annual Cook County budget that CBOE Chairman Neal oversees is about $17 million per year.

The Cook County Ethics Ordinance defines an Official as “any elected County official or appointed official regardless of whether the official is compensated … .”  When the Circuit Court of Cook County appointed Langdon Neal to serve as election commissioner and chairman for the Board of Elections for the City of Chicago, Neal also became a Cook County official. Neal’s Cook County budget responsibilities, salary, and benefits also deem him a Cook County official. Since Neal is a Cook County official by virtue of his appointment, compensation, and duties, the Cook County Ethics Ordinance requires him to follow the Cook County Code of Ethics like all other Cook County appointed officials, elected officials, and employees However, the Circuit Court has the exclusive right to decide whether or not Neal’s ethical misconduct is a satisfactory cause to remove him as an election board commissioner.

The Cook County Ethics Ordinance prescribes how elected and appointed officials shall conduct themselves at all times. An election board commissioner is no different from all other city, county, state, and federal officials whose conduct is governed by his or her respective Code of Ethics. The Cook County Circuit Court judges who will decide Neal’s fate must obey the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct or face punishment, including removal from office.

Illinois statute 10 IlCS 5/6-23 allows only the Circuit Court of Cook County to remove, with satisfactory cause, Chicago election commissioners once they are appointed. Statute 10 IlCS 5/6-23 does not specify what constitutes satisfactory cause to remove election commissioners. Since ethics codes govern elected and appointed officials’ conduct in their respective capacities and jurisdictions throughout the State of Illinois, including judges of the Circuit Court, the procedure to determine if there is satisfactory cause to remove Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal should include whether or not he violated the Cook County Ethics Ordinance.

The Cook County Ethics Ordinance is a fair and just guide to determine if there is cause for the removal of CBOE Commissioner Neal. When the Court made Neal an election commissioner and Cook County official, Neal acquired a fiduciary duty to honor and obey the Cook County Ethics Ordinance (Cook County Ethics Ordinance Sec. 2-571). Even though the arguments and evidence showing cause to remove Election Commissioner Neal show that he violated the Ethics Ordinance, they also stand on their own merits. Petitioners maintain there is satisfactory cause to remove Election Commissioner Neal with or without regard to the Cook County Ethics Ordinance.

Illinois Ethics Act

Illinois statue 5 ILCS 430/70-5 required all city and county government entities in the State of Illinois to enact ethics ordinances by June 1, 2004. The Illinois General Assembly mandated that local ethics ordinances must have equal or greater restrictions than the Illinois Ethics Act.

The Dupage County Election Commission chose to enact its own Ethics Ordinances, the CBOE did not. Langdon Neal was the CBOE Chairman when the Illinois Ethics Act became law in 2003. Election Commissioner Neal did not champion CBOE ethics ordinances because it was apparent to Neal that he would have had to give up his no-bid government contracts and lobbying compensation had he done so (see Neal’s government contract and lobby compensation below). Election Commissioner Neal’s failure to establish CBOE ethic ordinances shows he put his personal financial interests before the interests of the voters.

According to the Illinois Ethics Act, Langdon Neal is classified as an “officer” by virtue of his election commissioner appointment. The intention of the General Assembly was that each officer’s conduct in the State of Illinois, including Election Commissioner Neal’s, would be scrutinized by his or her respective ethics agency and ordinances, regardless of the ethics agency’s limitation on administering just punishment (Dupage County Election Commission Ethics Ordinance 2010-1).

The Illinois Ethics Act’s primary goal is to prevent ethical misconduct, but when ethical misconduct occurs, the Illinois Ethics Act provides for punishment in the form of fines, reprimands, suspensions and terminations. Indeed, the General Assembly sought to punish an officer in the state of Illinois for ethical misconduct, including Election Commissioner Neal’s ethical violations that also serves as the satisfactory cause to remove him from office.

CBOE Chairman Langon D. Neal’s $101 Million in No-Bid Government Contracts

According to the lobbying reports Langdon Neal submitted to the Chicago Board of Ethics, Langdon Neal is the majority owner of the Neal and Leroy law firm (Exhibit 1). Between 2004 and 2011, Langdon Neal’s law firm received $101,065,463 in no-bid contracts for legal work either directly from City of Chicago departments that the Chicago mayor manages or from local government agencies to which the mayor of Chicago appointed the board members (Table 1). Because Langdon Neal is the majority owner of the Neal and Leroy law firm, it follows that Langdon Neal derived substantial profit from his law firm’s $101 million in exclusive no-bid City of Chicago contracts. The amount of money that each agency or department paid Neal’s law firm was obtained through Freedom of Information requests (Exhibits 2 through 15).

In 1997 the Circuit Court appointed Neal an election commissioner. Table 1 does not include Neal’s law firm’s no-bid contracts from 1997 to 2003. Between 2004 and 2011 Neal’s firm averaged over $14 million a year in no-bid city contracts. Since Neal’s firm’s no-bid contract income of $101 million is for only 7 of the 15 years that Neal has been serving as CBOE chairman, the petitioners assume that Neal’s no-bid City contract income from 1997 to 2003 was similar to the $101 million Neal received between 2004 and 2011.

Agency or Department

Amount Paid to   Neal ‘s Law Firm

Chicago Board of Education (Exhibit 2)

$9,192,531.11

Chicago City Colleges (Exhibit 3)

$321,409.52

Chicago Department of Aviation (Exhibit 4)

$16,309,923.18

Chicago Department of Transportation (Exhibit 5)

$110,844.14

Chicago Housing Authority (Exhibit 6)

$3,495.52

Chicago Park District (Exhibit 7)

$580.00

Chicago Public Building Commission (Exhibit 8

$21,730,614.26

Chicago Transit Authority (Exhibit 9)

$3,788,743.81

Department of Finance (Exhibit 10)

$20,581,397.76

Department of Housing and Economic Development (Exhibit 11)

$2,930,837.08

Department of Law (Exhibit 12)

$20,393,987.26

Illinois International Port District (Exhibit 13)

$834,450.80

Illinois Medical District (Exhibit 14)

$852,922.41

Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (Exhibit 15 A and B)

$4,465,712.30

Total No-Bid Contracts Paid to Neal’s Law Firm

$101,517,449.15

Table 1

 CBOE Chairman Langon D. Neal’s Conflicts of Interest

Neal’s law firm’s $101 million in no-bid contracts is composed of hundreds of individual no-bid contracts. All of Neal’s law firm’s City of Chicago no-bid contracts represent conflicts of interest because Langdon Neal’s company received payment authorized by the aldermen and mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel whose elections CBOE Chairman Neal supervised and certified. The no-bid contracts that mayors Daley and Emanuel’s appointees directed to Neal’s law firm are themselves conflicts of interest because the mayors of Chicago chose their appointees specifically to implement their agendas and policies.

Mayor Richard M. Daley’s signature appears on the City of Chicago checks that Neal’s law firm cashed in payment for its City of Chicago no-bid contracts from Jan. 1, 2004, to May 16, 2011. Neal supervised and certified Mayor Daley’s reelection in 1999, 2003, and 2007. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s signature is printed on the City of Chicago checks that Neal’s law firm cashed for no-bid contracts from May 16, 2011, to the present. CBOE Chairman Neal supervised and certified Mayor Emanuel’s 2011 election.

It appears that Neal used his election commissioner authority to aid the elections of mayors Daley and Emanuel in return for $101 million worth of City of Chicago no-bid contracts.

Langdon Neal as a CBOE commissioner was in a position of authority to make advantageous CBOE rulings for Chicago mayors, aldermen, and their favored candidates who ran for other political offices. Furthermore, CBOE Commissioner Neal was in a position to hinder or deny ballot access to candidates who weren’t part of their political machine. By slowing down or stopping candidates who weren’t affiliated with their faction, Neal was able to make decisions that unduly enhanced the prospects and power of mayors, aldermen, and their chosen candidates.

The State of Illinois Ethics Reference describes a conflict of interest:

A conflict of interest occurs when the interests of a state employee are in conflict with the interests of the state. This might occur, for example, when a decision or recommendation that a state employee makes, relative to his or her official position, either affects or is affected by his or her personal interests or those of a family member, friend or associate.

Neal’s conflict of interest is almost exactly described by the above, except that Neal’s conflicts of interest occurred at the City of Chicago and Cook County levels. Neal’s conflicting interests are between Neal as CBOE chairman who represents the interests of City of Chicago voters and Neal’s personal and law firm’s financial interests. It appears that Election Board Chairman Neal made CBOE decisions that protect the aldermen, mayors Daley and Emanuel, and their favored candidates from political competition and outsiders because the mayor and aldermen were in a position to reward Neal’s law firm with exclusive no-bid City contracts.

Neal is a third generation Chicago machine politician who knows that if he does not use his CBOE authority to rule in favor of the mayor and aldermen, the mayor and aldermen will retaliate by cutting off Neal’s law firm’s lucrative no-bid City contracts. The mayor and aldermen awarded Neal’s law firm with City contracts while Neal was conducting their elections and after he certified them. Neal’s personal and law firm’s financial interest put him in a position to make unethical and partial CBOE decisions that put aldermen, mayors Daley and Emanuel, and their political allies into public office while disregarding the interests of Chicago voters and candidates.

Langdon Neal and his law firm purposely avoided soliciting Cook County for no-bid contracts (Exhibit 16). Neal did not receive any financial rewards other than his salary and benefits from Cook County because he knew that he was banned from receiving Cook County contracts. Cook County Ethics Ordinance Sec. 2-578 bars Neal from dual employment as a CBOE commissioner and City of Chicago contractor. Neal was incorrect in, however, in assuming that all he and his law firm had to do to avoid conflicts of interest allegations was refrain from Cook County contracts.

Cook County Ethics Ordinance Sec. 2-578 states:

No official or employee shall make, or participate in making, any County governmental decision with respect to any matter in which the official or employee, or the spouse or dependent of the official or employee, has any economic interest distinguishable from that of the general public.

Cook County’s Ethics Ordinance requires Neal to avoid making City of Chicago (which is located within Cook County)  election decisions since Neal has economic interests from his perpetual stream of no-bid City contracts. When CBOE Chairman Neal supervised Chicago municipal elections in 1999, 2003, and 2007, Neal had financial interests from his City contracts linked to Mayor Richard M. Daley and Daley’s compliant aldermen winning their elections. After Neal conducted and certified the Daley machine’s elections, Daley extended Neal’s no-bid City of Chicago contracts into Daley’s next term of office.

When CBOE Chairman Neal conducted and certified the 2011 Chicago municipal elections, Neal had financial interests from his City contracts holding over from the Daley regime and continuing under Mayor Rahm Emanuel. After Neal conducted and certified Emanuel’s election for mayor, Emanuel extended Neal’s law firm’s stream of no-bid city contracts. It’s obvious that Emanuel was the Daley political machine’s choice to succeed Daley since Emanuel retained most of Daley’s top henchmen and selected Daley’s cousin Theresa E. Mintle for his Chief of Staff.

Neal’s economic interest that is distinguishable from the general public’s is the $101 million that Neal’s law firm received in no-bid contracts from 2004 to 2011. The $101 million that Neal and his law firm received from the City of Chicago is absolute and compelling proof that Neal made CBOE decisions in matters connected to his own economic interests. As Neal’s election board decisions certified them in office, Chicago aldermen and mayors Daley and Emanuel used their public offices and public funds under their control to award Neal’s law firm with numerous and substantial no-bid City contracts. It appears that Chairman Neal’s CBOE election certifications of aldermen, mayors Daley and Emanuel, and their political allies were contingent upon his law firm continuing to receive City of Chicago no-bid contracts.

Neal Received $11.2 Million for Lobbying Chicago’s Aldermen and Mayor

From 2004 to 2011 CBOE Chairman Langdon Neal received $11,276,228 in compensation from clients who paid him to lobby Chicago aldermen, mayors, and other City officials (Exhibits 1 and 17). Exhibit 17 is a master list of Neal’s clients and compensation that was created from Neal’s individual compensation reports. The names of Neal’s lobbying clients and the amount they paid Neal for lobbying were obtained from the Chicago Board of Ethics through Freedom of Information requests.

Neal’s $11.2 million lobbying compensation contains only the fees that Neal listed on his Chicago Board of Ethics lobbying reports from 2004 to 2011 (Exhibit 1). Between 2004 and 2011, Neal personally averaged $1.6 million a year in lobbying compensation. Neal’s $11.2 million in lobbying compensation does not include lobbying compensation for the six years he served as CBOE chairman from 1997 to 2003.

Neal’s law firm had 15 registered lobbyists from 2001 to 2011 (Exhibit 18). The petitioners don’t know how many lobbyists worked for Neal’s firm between 1997 and 2001 because the Chicago Board of Ethics registered lobbyists list only dates back to 2001. Furthermore, Neal’s lobbying compensation of $11.2 million does not include the total compensation that Neal’s law firm earn from the other registered lobbyists who work for him.

Chicago’s Governmental Ethics Ordinance 2-156-010 (p) defines a lobbyist as follows:

A person who, on behalf of any person other than himself, or as any part of his duties as an employee of another, undertakes to influence any legislative or administrative action.

Neal declared himself a lobbyist when he paid fees and registered as one (Exhibit 19). Neal’s lobbying clients paid him to influence City legislation and aldermen whose elections Neal supervised and certified. Neal’s clients paid him to lobby the administrations of mayors Daley and Emanuel whose elections Neal conducted and certified. Altogether, Neal’s lobbying clients paid him $11.2 million to influence legislative and administrative action by the aldermen and mayors whose elections CBOE Chairman Neal had conducted and certified.

CBOE Chairman Neal made election board decisions in favor of the mayor and aldermen at the same time Neal’s lobbying income amounted to financial interests in the outcomes of the elections he was officiating. When Neal conducted and certified the 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011 Chicago municipal elections, his clients were also paying his law firm to lobby the mayor and aldermen during and after their elections.

Because Neal supervised and certified elections for aldermen and mayors as CBOE chairman, it appears that Neal and his law firm’s attorneys received special access and consideration when they went before the aldermen and mayor as lobbyists. Neal’s law firm’s lobbying income put Neal in a position as CBOE chairman to make unethical and partial decisions in favor of the aldermen, mayors Daley and Emanuel, and their political allies while disregarding the interests of Chicago voters and candidates who weren’t part of their political clique.

In a September 21, 2011, Chicago Tribune article, Neal said, “I’m not a lobbyist. I don’t do lobbying” (Exhibit 20). Neal’s false claim that he was not a lobbyist shows how much he is in denial of his conflicts of interests. Neal paid fees to register as a lobbyist (Exhibit 19). Since Election Commissioner Neal’s clients pay him to lobby City officials for administrative and legislative action, Neal deliberately deceived the public with his “I’m not a lobbyist” statement. Chicago voters expect honesty from election commissioners, who are sworn to honesty, just as Commissioner Neal was when he took his oath of office.

Election Board Commissioner Neal’s and his firm’s $11.2 in lobbying compensation are evidence of conflicts of interest for the same reasons that Neal’s law firm’s $101 million in no-bid contracts are conflicts of interests. Chicago lobbyist Neal earned a substantial amount of money from his non-CBOE financial and political relationships with the aldermen and mayors whose elections CBOE Chairman Neal conducted and certified.

Neal’s dual employment as a City of Chicago lobbyist and Chicago Board of Elections chairman created conflicts of interests that are obvious and substantial. As CBOE chairman, Neal’s non-partisan responsibility to the voters conflicts with his partisan interests in lobbying clients who hired him to influence the aldermen and mayor on legislative and administrative matters. If Neal made decisions unfavorable to the mayor and aldermen in his capacity as CBOE chairman, the mayor and aldermen would have thwarted Neal and his law firm’s attorneys when they went before them as lobbyists.

For Neal’s law firm’s lobbyists and Neal to continue their cozy lobbying relationships with the mayor and aldermen, the CBOE chairman had to rule for his political machine’s mayor and aldermen or against their opponents every chance he could. Neal’s law firm’s substantial Chicago lobbying influence and income are the result of CBOE Chairman Neal being the decision maker for the aldermen, mayor, and their opponents come election time.

Chicago Board of Ethics 1994 Advisory Opinion

On November 16, 1994, the Chicago Board of Ethics issued an Advisory Opinion that declared a Chicago election commissioner can represent a client against the City (Exhibit 21). The 1994 Advisory Opinion also reiterated an earlier Advisory Opinion that the Chicago election commissioners are not City of Chicago employees. Because the 1994 Advisory Opinion did not consider CBOE commissioners City employees, the assumption exempted CBOE commissioners from following Chicago’s Governmental Ethics Ordinance. The Chicago Ethics Board could have ruled that although the election commissioners were not  technically City employees, their non-CBOE involvement with the City nevertheless created conflicts of interest.

The Chicago Board of Ethics 1994 Advisory Opinion did not include the fact that a CBOE Chairman such as Langdon Neal appears before the Chicago City Council Budget Committee each year to brief the aldermen on what the CBOE is accomplishing. Neal explains the CBOE plans for the upcoming year to the aldermen on the Council’s Budget Committee. During Neal’s Budget Committee appearances, he answers the aldermen’s questions about the CBOE’s annual budget. The aldermen and mayor approve the CBOE’s budget only after Neal submits the budget and testifies about it. The CBOE budget process ends when the mayor and a majority of aldermen pass an Appropriation Ordinance to fund the CBOE.

The Chicago Board of Ethics’ decision on whether or not election commissioners are City employees did not take into account that an election commissioner such as Neal has an obligation to submit a CBOE budget and report on CBOE operations each year to the mayor and aldermen. Furthermore, the Advisory Opinion avoided any discussion about the election commissioners’ duties relative to conducting and certifying elections for the City’s mayor and aldermen.

In spite of the Chicago Board of Ethics’ misguided Opinion, the Circuit Court can still hold CBOE Chairman Neal accountable to Chicago’s Ethics Code since the Court has the discretion to determine what constitutes satisfactory cause to remove an election commissioner. Even though the City of Chicago might not consider Election Commissioner Neal a City employee, the City still has the authority to deny Neal City contracts and the right to work as a lobbyist because Neal’s election commissioner duties create conflicts of interest. And regardless of the City’s stance, Neal still has a duty to follow the Cook County Ethics Ordinance and avoid conflicts of interest that the Circuit Court should hold as satisfactory cause for his removal.

More Chicago Board of Ethics Malfeasance

The Chicago Board of Ethics 1994 Advisory Opinion mentioned three units of government–the State of Illinois, Cook County, and the City of Chicago. When the City of Chicago budget described the duties of the CBOE, the budget specified the federal government as a fourth unit of government: “The Board of Election Commissioners conducts and supervises all local, county, state, and federal elections for the City of Chicago and is responsible for certification of election results.”

The City of Chicago has the largest block of voters in the County and State. The significant number of Chicago voters means the County and State have vested interests in the Chicago Board of Ethics’ advisory opinions that involve Chicago elections and election commissioners. Given that Cook County and State of Illinois candidates’ as well as voters’ constitutional rights to impartial elections are at stake in the Chicago Board of Ethics’ advisory opinions, the Chicago Board of Ethics should also seek the advice and counsel of the County and State before it publishes advisory opinions. Nevertheless, authors of the 1994 advisory opinion failed to seek counsel from the Illinois State Board of Elections, Illinois Department of Ethics, Cook County Department of Ethics, or Circuit Court of Cook County on essential matters governing Chicago elections and election commissioners.

Neither the 1994 advisory opinion nor any other Chicago Board of Ethics advisory opinion specifically states that election commissioners can work as Chicago lobbyists or hold majority ownership in firms that receive City of Chicago contracts, as CBOE Chairman Langdon Neal is currently doing. In fact, Executive Director Steven Berlin wrote on December 22, 2011, that there are no Chicago Board of Ethics advisory opinions regarding an election commissioner receiving City of Chicago contracts and lobbying the aldermen and mayor (Exhibit 22). Hence, Election Commissioner Langdon Neal decided for himself that it was permissible for him and his law firm to receive no-bid City contracts and lobby the mayor and aldermen on legislative and administrative matters.

Neal became an election commissioner three years after the Chicago Board of Ethics issued its 1994 advisory opinion. Neal’s failure to seek advisory opinions about his City contracts and City lobbying from the Chicago and Cook County Boards of Ethics raises suspicions that employees inside City and County governments were supporting and protecting Neal. The 1994 advisory opinion about an election commissioner representing a client against the City in a court of law is quite different from an election commissioner receiving City contracts and lobbying the mayor and aldermen after the election commissioner conducts and certifies their elections, as Neal is doing.

The Chicago Board of Ethics 1994 Advisory Opinion states that the City of Chicago pays an election commissioner’s salary and health benefits and that the commissioner contributes to the Employees Pension Fund (Exhibit 21). Between 1994 and the present, it appears that CBOE Chairman Langdon Neal used his unrivaled political clout and connections to have his salary and benefits switched from the City of Chicago to Cook County. Neal’s purpose for deliberately orchestrating the switch from Chicago to Cook County was to make it appear that his law firm’s City of Chicago no-bid contracts and lobbying income were legitimate.

It doesn’t matter whether Chicago or Cook County pays Neal’s salary. Neal’s conflicts of interest blatantly violate millions of Chicago residents’ and voters’ civil right to impartial elections. Neal’s law firm’s $101 million in no-bid City contracts and Neal’s $11.2 million in lobbying compensation are obvious and severe ethical breaches and conflicts of interest that warrant his immediate removal as an election commissioner.

CBOE Chairman Neal’s Dual Employment

Cook County Ethics Ordinance Sec. 2-573 on Dual Employment states:

(a) No official or employee shall accept other employment which will impair his or her independence of judgment in the exercise of official duties.

(b) No official or employee shall accept other employment which will impair his or her ability to perform County duties and responsibilities.

Langdon Neal has the dual employment of election commissioner and chairman for his public income, and City of Chicago contractor and lobbyist for his private income. Neal’s non-county City contractor and lobbyist income requires him to form on-going financial and political relationships with Chicago aldermen and mayors Daley and Emanuel. Since Neal’s non-County employment requires him to retain smooth relationships with the public officials who grant him City contracts and lobbying access, Neal’s non-county employment impairs his independent judgment when he performs his official CBOE duties of conducting and certifying Chicago municipal elections.

The lens through which CBOE Chairman Neal views Chicago politicians and officiates Chicago municipal elections has been seriously and forever tainted by Neal receiving $11.2 million in lobbying compensation and his law firm’s acceptance of $101 million in no-bid City of Chicago contracts. These factors also render inconceivable Neal’s ability to make independent judgments and impartial CBOE decisions. Neal is unfit to serve as CBOE chairman and commissioner.

Election Board Commissioner Neal’s Fiduciary Responsibility and Oath of Office

Langdon Neal was beholden to Cook County Ethics Ordinance Sec. 2-571 on Fiduciary Duty:

Officials and employees shall at all times in the performance of their duties owe a fiduciary duty to the County.

Langdon Neal swore to the Election Board Commissioner’s Oath of Office (IL 10 ILCS 5/6-24):

… That I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Illinois and the laws passed in pursuant thereof, to the best of my ability, and will faithfully and honestly discharge my duties of the office of election commissioner [Italics added].

The definition of faithfully is, “In a loyal manner.”

The definition of honestly is, “In a truthful, fair, or honorable way.”

The U.S. Constitution guarantees that the people of Chicago vote for their city, county, state, and federal representatives in fair and impartial elections. The Cook County budget states the CBOE’s mission is to administer an “impartial” and “equitable” election system. Because Neal accepted no-bid City contracts from City officials whose elections Neal conducted and certified, CBOE Chairman Neal violated his election commissioner’s duty of remaining impartial, honest, and faithful to the voters of Chicago. Furthermore, Neal also violated his election commissioner’s duty of remaining impartial, honest, and faithful to the voters of Chicago because he received payments to lobby the very same City officials whose elections he conducted and certified.

CBOE Chairman Neal was not “honest,” “faithful,” or “loyal” to his election commissioner’s duties or office when he accepted $101 million in City of Chicago contracts and received $11.2 million in compensation to lobby the aldermen and the administrations of mayors Daley and Emanuel. When Neal publicly said, “I am not a lobbyist,” though he had registered and collected compensation for being a lobbyist, he was dishonest and violated his fiduciary duty and oath of office.

The people of Chicago cannot maintain confidence and trust in the CBOE if, as it appears, Chairman Neal cashed in on his position of election commissioner. Langdon D. Neal’s insatiable greed is solely responsible for Chicago voters losing confidence and trust in him.

Satisfactory Cause to Remove Election Board Commissioner Langdon D. Neal

The petitioners provided the Circuit Court documents from city departments or agencies to which mayors Daley and Emanuel appointed board members as proof of CBOE Chairman Langdon Neal’s law firm’s awards of $101 million worth of no-bid City contracts (Exhibits 2 through 15). The petitioners also provided the Circuit Court the proof that Langdon Neal’s personal lobbying efforts netted his law firm $11.2 million in lobbying compensation (Exhibits 1 and 17).

For satisfactory cause to remove Election Commissioner Langdon Neal, it is unnecessary for the petitioners to prove Neal committed a crime. Instead, the petitioners only need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Election Commissioner Neal’s no-bid City of Chicago contracts and lobbying compensation represent conflicts of interest that impair Neal’s independent CBOE judgment and ability to remain an impartial election commissioner.

Neal’s numerous and substantial conflicts of interest that stem from his city contractor and lobbying businesses render all of his previous CBOE decisions questionable. To allow Langdon Neal to continue as a Chicago election commissioner will cause further suspicion, mistrust, and harm to Chicago candidates and voters. Furthermore, because the CBOE conducts and certifies all local, state, and federal elections, the stain of Langdon Neal’s ethical misconduct and conflicts of interest have spread from Chicago City government to Cook County, the State of Illinois, and the federal government.

For the aforementioned satisfactory causes, petitioners ask the Circuit Court of Cook County to immediately remove Langdon D. Neal as a Chicago election commissioner.

Designate Chicago Election Board Commissioners as City “Officials”

The petitioners also ask the Circuit Court to require the Chicago Board of Ethics to designate Chicago election board commissioners as City “officials.” If CBOE Commissioner Neal had been previously deemed a City official, it most likely would have deterred him from seeking no-bid City contracts and lobbying clients, just as Neal’s “official” status with Cook County deterred him from such activities there. If the Circuit Court deems CBOE commissioners City officials, the Circuit Court can and must retain its exclusive and sole right to discipline and/or dismiss CBOE commissioners as required by state law.

The City of Chicago pays the salaries of all CBOE employees except CBOE’s three election board commissioners and executive director. CBOE commissioners are responsible for the performance of 124 CBOE employees whose salaries are paid for by the City of Chicago. The City of Chicago provides about $19 million per year for CBOE operations. CBOE commissioners have the authority to make decisions involving the duties of City of Chicago employees. Thus, the voters of Chicago are entitled to checks and balances over the CBOE commissioners’ conduct through Chicago’s Governmental Ethics Ordinance.

Requiring CBOE commissioners to follow the Chicago Governmental Ethics Ordinance is a protection for Chicago voters who pay for the salaries and operation of the CBOE. Requiring CBOE commissioners to abide by Chicago’s Governmental Ethics Ordinance will significantly deter CBOE commissioners’ unethical conduct in the future. The requirement that CBOE commissioners follow Chicago Governmental Ethics Ordinance will not interfere with the Circuit Court’s exclusive right and sole legal authority to remove an election board commissioner for satisfactory cause.

 

Exhibit List

  1. Langdon Neal’s City of Chicago Lobbying Compensation Reports
  2. Chicago Board of Education payments to Neal’s Law Firm
  3. Chicago City Colleges payments to Neal’s Law Firm
  4. Chicago Department of Aviation Payments to Neal’s Firm
  5. Chicago Department of Transportation Payments to Neal’s Firm
  6. Chicago Housing Authority Payments to Neal’s Firm
  7. Chicago Park District Payments to Neal’s Law Firm
  8. Chicago Public Building Commission Payments to Neal’s Law Firm
  9. Chicago Transit Authority Payments to Neal’s Law Firm

10. Department of Finance Payments to Neal’s Law Firm

11. Department of Housing and Economic Development Payments to Neal’s Law Firm

12. Department of Law Payments to Neal’s Law Firm

13. Illinois International Port District payments to Neal’s Law Firm

14. Illinois Medical District Payments to Neal’s Law Firm

15. Metropolitan and Exposition Authority Payments to Neal’s Law Firm

16. Cook County Government FOIA Response

17. Master List of Langdon Neal’s Lobbying Clients and Lobbying Compensation

18. The Names of Neal’s Law Firm’s Lobbyists from 2001 to 2011

19. Langdon Neal’s Lobbyist’s Statement of Registration

20. Chicago Tribune: “Chicago Lobbyists Ring Up $6 Million in 6 Months,” Hal Dardick and Ellen Gabler, Sept. 21, 2011

21. Chicago Board of Ethics Advisory Opinion Case No. 94031

22. Chicago Board of Ethics Executive Director’s E-mail

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