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Proviso Probe

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Proviso has made a national top twenty list!

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) (organization website) has named Congressman Dan Lipinski as one of the twenty most corrupt members of Congress in 2008 (write-up). Lipinski represents the following Proviso communities: Brookfield, LaGrange Park, North Riverside and the southern portions of Forest Park and Westchester.
Rep. Dan Lipinski is a second-term member of Congress representing Illinois’ 3rd congressional district. Rep. Lipinski’s ethics issues stem from the outside employment of a top Washington D.C. congressional aide.

Jerome R. Hurckes

In January 2005, after serving as district director for former Rep. William Lipinski, Jerome “Jerry” Hurckes became chief of staff in the district office of Rep. Dan Lipinski, who replaced his father.

Since 1999, Mr. Hurckes has served as an elected member of the Village of Oak Lawn Board of Trustees. In that capacity he ran a state campaign account called Friends of Jerry Hurckes. Both former Rep. William Lipinski’s state PAC and the Dan Lipinski for Congress Committee have donated to Friends of Jerry Hurckes. Rep. Dan Lipinski serves on the House Transportation Committee, and companies with business in front of the committee, have donated to Mr. Hurckes’ campaign committee.

In his capacity as a local elected official, Mr. Hurckes has claimed responsibility for bringing federal funds to Oak Lawn. During an Oak Lawn board meeting in March 2008, Mr. Hurckes claimed that the village did not need to hire a lobbyist because he served as a de facto lobbyist. Mr. Hurckes said that he was "responsible for helping secure over $4 million for the Village of Oak Lawn ... responsible for helping obtain the funding for the Oak Lawn Children Museum ... [and] responsible for funding for emergency light systems," but Mr. Hurckes is not a registered federal lobbyist.

Given that Mr. Hurckes is the most highly paid staff member in Rep. Lipinski’s office, that his position is a full-time job and is generally considered a “senior staff” position, the fact that Mr. Hurckes’ salary is just under the figure that would make him “senior staff” suggests that Rep. Lipinski is paying Mr. Hurckes a salary under this limit precisely so that he can earn a substantial outside income. As a result, the House Ethics committee ought to investigate whether Rep. Lipinski and Mr. Hurckes are attempting to end-run the outside income restrictions.

By serving as a member of the Village of Oak Lawn Board of Trustees and admitting that he has been the Board’s “defacto lobbyist,” Mr. Hurckes is violating the prohibition against congressional staff serving as lobbyists. Mr. Hurckes also likely violated the prohibition against using House resources to perform the duties of his local office. And, by telling the Board of Oak Lawn that it did not need to hire a lobbyist because he was handling the city’s congressional issues and by stating that he had helped secure funding for projects in Oak Lawn, Mr. Hurckes clearly used his position in the House to provide special treatment to his constituents and encouraged the notion that his constituents would receive preferential treatment from Rep. Lipinski’s congressional office. Finally, by accepting money for his local electoral campaign from companies with interests before Rep. Lipinski, Mr. Hurckes is using his position as a congressional staff member to accept benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of official duties in violation of House rules.

Lipinski has two opponents on the ballot in November: Michael Hawkins (Republican) and Jerome Pohlen (Green).

Jerry Hurckes is not a nice person.

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  • "responsible for helping obtain the funding for the Oak Lawn Children Museum"

    You might want to recheck your quote. The way it reads it sounds as if Mr. Hurckes got the ENTIRE funding for the museum and that is not the case. Back in March, the Southtown reported the following:

    “Hurckes ticked off earmarks he claimed to have secured for the village. . . . $100,000 for the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum, nearly $4 million in transportation infrastructure funds.”

    This should more appropriately read, "responsible for helping obtain funding for the Oak Lawn Children Museum" [the word 'the' before the word 'funding' should not be there]

    By Anonymous Oak Lawn Resident, at 10:11 AM, September 12, 2008  

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