Rep. Chesney calls for immediate investigation into incident of electioneering on county property

State Representative Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport) is calling for an immediate investigation after Democratic candidate for Stephenson County Clerk Chandra Morris, who is currently a county employee, was recorded Monday giving an interview about her campaign from inside the Clerk’s Office using County resources in connection with a prohibited political activity.

The incident was recorded on video by a WIFR-TV news team, where Chandra Morris actively discusses her campaign for County Clerk while inside the Clerk’s Office, which can be viewed HERE. A local elected official who witnessed the incident brought it to Rep. Chesney’s attention and expressed concern that Ms. Morris’ actions constitute an alleged violation of the law.

“It is deeply troubling that a public employee like Ms. Morris would flagrantly violate ethics by campaigning on public property inside the very office she is running for in the upcoming election,” said Rep. Chesney. “Stephenson County taxpayers deserve a thorough and immediate investigation into this matter to determine whether charges should be filed against her for violating ethics law.”

County ordinance prohibits electioneering on public property and within government offices. Specifically, Stephenson County Code Section 62-2: Prohibited political activities, subsection A, states:

No officer or employee shall intentionally perform any prohibited political activity during any compensated time, as defined herein. No officer or employee shall intentionally use any property or resources of the County in connection with any prohibited political activity.

Prohibited Political Activity is defined in part in paragraph L as: “Campaigning for any elective office”

Campaign for elective office is defined as: Any activity in furtherance of an effort to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any individual to any federal, state, or local public office or office in a political organization, or the selection, nomination, or election of presidential or vice presidential electors, but does not include activities:

A. 

Relating to the support or opposition of any executive, legislative, or administrative action;

B. 

Relating to collective bargaining; or

C. 

That are otherwise in furtherance of the person’s official duties.

A summary of the alleged violation is as follows: 

                Chandra Morris, as an employee of Stephenson County, intentionally participated in prohibited political activity, as well as using property and resources of the County in connection with the prohibited political activity.   

On October 31, 2022, Chandra Morris, an employee of Stephenson County, conducted an interview with WIFR, a television station, about the Stephenson County Clerk’s race, specifically discussing Morris’ candidacy.  She conducted this interview in the Stephenson County Clerk and Recorder offices located on the 5th floor of 50 West Douglas Avenue in Freeport, IL and used property and resources of the County, including the actual office, books, computers and filing systems in the background of the interview. 

For questions or more information, please contact Rep. Chesney’s District Office at 815-232-0774.