Watchdog group's allegations against former Algonquin highway commissioner met with silence
There may be – or there may not be – "ongoing investigation(s)" into an Illinois-based political activist group's latest allegations into fraud and other wrongdoing in the Algonquin Township Highway Commission.
At least that's the conclusion that can be drawn from the very little that public officials are willing to say on the record about the matter. McHenry Times reached out to dozens of county and state officials for reaction to Edgar County Watchdogs' detailed documentation about alleged fraud by a family that once ran the highway commission, but few of them so much as responded.
"Due to ongoing investigation(s) that may or may not be still in process regarding this matter, I am unable to provide any comment," Illinois state Sen. Donald P. DeWitte (R-St. Charles) said in an email response to McHenry Times' questions.
McHenry County Board District 5 representative Michael J. Skala provided a qualified call for accountability.
"If there is any fraud in the township by any person, they should be held accountable," Skala said in an email to McHenry Times.
Skala declined to answer questions about whether an audit should be conducted of Algonquin Township's Highway District in light of Edgar County Watchdogs' allegations, nor would he say why there has been any hesitation about it.
"I cannot answer that question," he said. "Again, this should be answered by the Algonquin Township Board."
Algonquin Township Board thus far has blocked moves toward a highway district audit, which the current highway commissioner has requested.
The controversy that revolves around former Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Bob Miller and his family, including allegations of nepotism and pay-to-play donations, is nothing new in Algonquin Township, where three generations of the family manned the township's highway department responsible for about 50 miles of road. Miller, his father and grandfather all held the title of Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner for more than half a century until the youngest was voted out of office in a heated 2017 election won by Andrew Gasser.
Allegations have flown back and forth ever since then, but with little in the way of prosecution, including McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Keannally's decision not to pursue charges. Meanwhile, Edgar County Watchdogs has for years provided a steady stream of documents and coverage of the alleged wrongdoing.
Edgar County Watchdogs, also known as Illinois Leaks, was founded in 2011 by Kirk Allen and John Kraft.
Most recently, the activist group has reported about Miller's wife, Anna May Miller, who along with the couple's two sons-in-law, had long been on the township department payroll. Part 6 of what Edgar County Watchdogs has been calling its "Time Card Tuesday" series, made a detailed examination of Anna May Miller's time cards.
"While we have many more time cards to expose, we want to make sure everyone understands this reporting is simply on the time cards and payroll numbers," Part 6 of the series stated. "While some have implied that we are wrong because the person worked from home or even as the state’s attorney investigator said, she could have worked from her boat cabin, while out of the country, on a cruise, we are not concerned where the work was performed. We care about the record that shows hours worked or not worked and paid. If she worked from home, those hours should be recorded. Same with the boat cruise. Time worked should be recorded to ensure proper payment is provided."