Franks eyes attorney general run in midst of controversy
McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks is considering vying to replace Lisa Madigan as Illinois attorney general despite criticism over the ethical implications of the alleged improper hiring of two longtime allies.
Franks has raised an estimated $570,000 for his campaign, the McHenry County Blog reported.
According to Mike Fourcher, who helped run former Rep. Julie Hamos' campaign in 2010, Franks would need $3 million to $5 million to be considered a viable primary candidate.
“The attorney general’s office does not have a natural constituency like governor does, so fewer PACs and lobbyists will want to contribute big dollars to A.G. campaigns,” Fourcher wrote in an email. “As a result, primary candidates end up depending on a pool of wealthy, issue-driven donors for a large portion of the fundraising.”
Franks, who could be well-positioned to seek the Democratic Party nomination, comes from a wealthy family and reportedly has more money than any other legislative or local official Democrat who might be interested in running for attorney general as well.
“My biggest concern is McHenry County,” Franks told the Northwest Herald. “I’ve got to make sure that the people of McHenry County are served best, so I have to see if [me running for Illinois attorney general] would be best for them.”
Franks has recently faced criticism after allegedly circumventing proper procedures to employ two longtime allies.
Franks’ hiring of Bridget Geenen as his assistant and Kevin Craver as communications specialist was the primary focus of a special meeting in late August. Craver was hired to replace Oliver Serafini, who along with Geenen worked with Franks when he was a state representative.
"The issue of the improper hirings is a matter of systemic corruption in McHenry County," Kelly Liebmann said in a Facebook post. "The Chairman and Administrator did not follow Board policies when they hired employees without posting the positions to the public."
Even with his wealthy family for campaign funds, Franks could run into some serious competition, like Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who was once an Illinois senator. Franks problems in McHenry County could hurt his chances on the statewide level.
“Whoever runs now will need to compress months of handshaking and deal-making into weeks,” Fourcher said. “They will need a fundraiser and campaign manager that already have donors and party leaders on speed dial.”
Lisa Madigan has been attorney general for 14 years but will leave office in January 2019.
“Above all, I am proud of the countless ways that my office works every day to help people and protect their rights,” Madigan said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my work as Attorney General and then taking on new, challenging opportunities at the end of my term.”
GOP candidate and former Miss America Erika Harold announced in August that she is running for attorney general.
By press time, Franks had not responded to several interview requests.