Edgar County Watchdogs continue 'draining the swamp' in Illinois
Two military veterans with no political background decided seven years ago that they were going to "drain the swamp" and shed light on political corruption in Illinois.
They've had their hands full.
Most recently, Kirk Allen and John Kraft, co-founders of the Edgar County Watchdogs, gathered evidence that led to the grand jury indictment of former LaSalle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne on 17 counts of official misconduct and misapplication of public funds.
“We started in May of 2016 and started exposing illegal spending and all kinds of self-dealing,” Allen told Dan Proft and guest host Kristen McQueary on Chicago’s "Morning Answer" radio show.
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Allen said eight counts that didn’t come back with an indictment were tied to spending seized drug money on schools.
“He (Towne) lobbied the legislators to have the law changed to make his illegal actions legal,” Allen said.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Towne donated thousands of dollars in public funds to a local high school club and paid personal expenses using money from an asset forfeiture program.
Allen and Kraft have also nabbed other lawmakers misusing government funds and have launched a website called Govplates.com, which allows Illinois residents to report municipal vehicles that are parked in questionable places.
Kraft said he submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for all the license plate data on government vehicles.
“We got used to seeing municipal license plates parked in front of bars, clubs and shopping malls at all hours of the day and night,” Kraft said. “We didn’t know how to complain about where the vehicle was, so I did the FOIA request.”
Kraft said it’s taken up three to four years to get some of his FOIA requests finalized.
Allen and Kraft said they are not anti-government but anti-corruption in government.
“We’re asking for rule of law to be followed,” Allen said.
“We don’t ask if they are Republican or Democrat," Kraft said. "It doesn’t matter to us what they are."