Drury, Mariotti To Remain On Ballot For Attorney General

January 11, 2018

"Access to the ballot is a substantial right" argued Scott Drury's attorney, Casey Westover. It was the argument that was overall victorious in the hearing before the Illinois State Board of Elections, which claimed Drury should not be allowed on the ballot for Illinois attorney general due to a technicality with his statement of economic interest. 

Candidates have to file a statement of economic interest to highlight any financial conflicts of interest. Drury filed a statement in November of 2017, a timely submission for the 2018 March primaries. However, the statement was filed for the office of "Representative in the General Assembly" instead of the higher office of attorney general, which is a different branch of government. 

Petitioner Thomas J. Rottman, Jr. argued that Drury's statement should not qualify due to this discrepancy, as laid out by attorney James Nally. 

"When you seek a different office in a different unit of government, you have to file a new economic interest statement," says Nally. "The answers may be the same to the same questions, but you're still obligated to do that. That wasn't done by the candidate." 

The hearing officer, James Tenuto agreed. However, the board's general counsel did not. 

"The General Counsel is not convinced that the Legislative and Executive, being separate branches of government, are also separate units of government," writes General Counsel Ken Menzel. "The statement of economic interest that the Candidate has on file as a State Representative relates to the State of Illinois, not only the Representative District that he represents."

At the hearing on Thursday, board member William McGuffage spoke to the importance of economic interest statements. "Courts have declared this requirement that you indicate the office for which you are seeking on the statement of economic interest.” 

McGuffage, along with Charles Scholz and Casandra Watson voted with the recommendation of the hearing officer. But, the five other board members disagreed, allowing Drury to remain on the ballot. 

Drury also challenged opponent Renato Mariotti saying he lacked enough valid petition signatures. The board unanimously agreed in favor of Mariotti. 

Details on the case can be found here, beginning on page 394. 

Story source: Illinois Public Radio