Chicago’s Workers’ Compensation ‘Director’ is a Clout List Queen

Four Generations of Somerville Political Hacks

Chicago workers’ comp ‘Director’ Monica Somerville has spawned her family’s fourth generation of political hacks. The Somerville family has neither the longevity nor the power of the Cullerton family political dynasty, but they are striving towards it. Somerville’s husband, daughter, brother-in-law, cousins, father-in-law, etc. currently have or had political jobs until they retired. Somerville’s name and three of her relatives appear on Robert Sorich’s infamous “clout list.” Each Somerville mentioned in Sorich’s clout list received a job or promotion (To view the Somerville names on the clout list, see note 1).

After graduating John Marshall Law School, Somerville worked for the city’s law department as an attorney and then as an assistant corporation council from 1991 to 1997. Sorich listed Monica Somerville’s name on his clout list on May 15, 1997. The clout list and testimony from Somerville’s brother-in-law were two key pieces of evidence that led to Sorich’s 2006 conviction for exchanging political work for city jobs and promotions such as Monica Somerville’s. According to Sorich’s clout list entries, Somerville had Victor Reyes, the intergovernmental affairs commissioner at that time and state Sen. Jeremiah Joyce pushing for her law department promotion. Somerville quit her city law department job to briefly work in the United States Postal Service’s law department. When Sorich came through with Somerville’s promotion, she returned to work at the law department as a chief assistant corporation council. Somerville’s salary doubled when she rejoined the city’s workforce in June, 2000. Her pay increased from $51,000 a year to $102,000 a year.  Somerville’s pay increase that doubled her salary exemplifies how the Richard M. Daley administration used taxpayers’ funds in the form of city jobs and promotions to pay for political campaign workers.

Besides Monica, the names Bill, Luke, and Maridolores Somerville appear on Sorich’s clout list. The four Somervilles are from the clout heavy 19th ward, one of the most influential wards in Chicago politics. Luke Somerville testified at the Robert Sorich trial that he performed political work and was promoted to a chief mason inspector over a more qualified candidate who had no political clout. According to the Chicago Tribune, Luke is the brother of John Somerville. Since John and Monica Somerville are married, city patronage worker and Sorich federal court witness Luke Somerville is Monica’s brother-in-law.

Monica’s husband John is a third generation 19th ward precinct captain. Indeed, John Somerville parlayed his and his family’s precinct work into a job at the Cook County States’ Attorney office starting in 1989. He was promoted to assistant state’s attorney in 2005. He currently earns $118,000 a year as an assistant DA. In 2003 and 2007 John unsuccessfully ran for alderman against incumbent Virginia Rugai. The city fired Monica Somerville for poor job performance in 2001, and she unsuccessfully sued the city and her boss for sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Rugai originally became an alderman after Mayor Daley appointed her. I believe John Somerville ran against Alderman Rugai in 2003 and 2007 to seek revenge against the Daley administration for firing his wife Monica in 2001.

Monica and John’s Somerville’s daughter Courtney works as a clerk for the Chicago city council. Courtney earns $22,000 a year for her patronage job since becoming a clerk in Jan., 2013. As with her mother Monica, Courtney is in a Shakman exempt position. She was hired for political reasons, and she can be fired at any time for political reasons. Monica and John are two of the third generation of Somervilles to participate in 19th ward and Chicago politics. Their daughter Courtney represents the fourth generation of Somervilles who have turned political campaigning into political jobs.

Alderman Ed Burke hired Monica Somerville as a “legislative aide” in May, 2013. Somerville is committing fraud because she mails letters with her job title as “Director, Workers’ Compensation Division” to injured city workers when in fact she is a legislative aide to Burke. Somerville’s boss’s wife, Anne Burke was one of the Illinois Supreme Court justices who appointed Somerville to the Committee on Character and Fitness in 2011 and then reappointed her for a second term in 2014. It took major political clout for Somerville to get appointed to a state supreme court and City of Chicago finance committee.

In all, Somerville has clouted her way into a least seven government jobs. As previously mentioned, Somerville came back to work for the city as chief assistant corporation council at twice the pay shortly after Sorich put her name on the clout list. In addition to positions on the finance and Character and Fitness committees, clout has secured Somerville jobs as an attorney and assistant corporation council with the city’s law department, and hearings referee and public service administrator jobs with the Illinois Department of Employment Services (IDES). The fact that IDES hired Somerville after she was fired for incompetence and an unsuccessful harassment and discrimination lawsuit against the city is proof Somerville has powerful clout behind her.

Somerville’s political heritage and history automatically disqualify her to manage Chicago’s workers’ compensation program. The person managing workers’ comp must be fair and impartial. Somerville is too beholden to the politicians that her and her family rely on for jobs to make independent and judicious workers’ comp decisions. I guarantee that Somerville has never stopped the duty disability pay or medical expenses of an active precinct captain from Somerville’s 19th ward, Alderman Ed Burke’s 14th ward, House Speaker Mike Madigan’s 13th ward, or State Senate President John Cullerton’s 38th ward. I also guarantee that Somerville never halted the duty disability pay and medical expenses of active precinct captains if their aldermenic clout voted in favor of keeping Burke’s workers’ comp fiefdom from the inspector general’s oversight. Given Somerville’s professional problems and political pedigree, Burke could not have made a worse pick for his workers’ comp director. And it’s obvious that Burke uses workers’ comp as leverage to get other aldermen to vote his way.

Luke Somerville said that some people will think he is a rat for testifying against Sorich and exposing the means in which Chicago politicians engaged in a massive hiring and election fraud. I assume the Somervilles, their friends, and political cronies think even less of me for spotlighting their political ways. Monica Somerville holds a position of public trust. Her politically biased and unjust decisions have ruined the lives of some disabled city workers and their families. For example, Somerville stopped my friend’s disability pay and medical payments without due process. My friend, his wife and children were relying on his duty disability check to live on until he was able to return to work and receive full pay. Yes, to some I am rat or worse, but to many others I am exactly what they wanted and needed.

Note

  1. To view the Somerville names on Sorich’s clout list, click the following document, cloutlist2006(2)

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