Attorney General’s Office: Biondo cannot serve on county board, RVC board simultaneously
By Brandon Reid
Rock Valley College (RVC) Board of Trustees member and Winnebago County Board member Ted Biondo, R-9, cannot hold both elected offices simultaneously, according to a March 29 letter from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato.
“[T]he offices of county board member and community college district trustee in a county with more than 40,000 inhabitants are incompatible, and therefore, one person cannot hold both offices simultaneously,” said Lynn E. Patton, senior assistant attorney general and chief of the Attorney General’s Public Access and Opinions Division, in the letter. “Further, as a matter of law, the acceptance of a second, incompatible office by the incumbent of another office constitutes an ipso facto resignation of the first office.”
Since Biondo was elected to the RVC board in 2004 and appointed to the county board in 2008, the letter from the Attorney General’s Office means Biondo may have to resign his position on the RVC board because he was elected to that position prior to being appointed to the county board.
However, the letter from the Attorney General’s Office is not a formal ruling, and Biondo reportedly has no plans of stepping down until being legally ordered to vacate his seat. A formal ruling would come from the Attorney General’s Office.
Bruscato sought an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office in January after Biondo was asked by a group of RVC students to resign from the RVC Board of Trustees because of an alleged conflict of interest with his county board seat. At the time, Biondo refused to resign, saying students were upset with the board because of ongoing contract negotiations with the faculty union. The RVC board and the faculty union have since reached an agreement.
Biondo, who also served as Rockford Board of Education president in the late 1990s, is not the first person to have his simultaneous holding of a Winnebago County Board seat and an RVC Board of Trustees seat challenged.
A March 20, 2003, letter from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to then-Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli asserted that Chris Johnson’s simultaneous holding of both a county board seat and an RVC board seat was a potential conflict of interest. The opinion said no one person could hold both positions simultaneously.
However, Logli chose not to challenge Johnson’s holding of both positions because he said he disagreed with the attorney general’s opinion. Specifically, Logli said the 1994 ruling upon which the opinion rested presented issues Johnson may never have had to face.
Since Logli chose not to challenge Johnson’s holding of both seats, only a civil lawsuit could have forced Johnson to resign from one of his seats. No civil action was ever taken.
Click here to view the entire letter from Patton to Bruscato.
From the April 11-17, 2012, issue
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