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Ill. ethics official fined for breaking ethics law

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

SPRINGFIELD – A former member of the Illinois panel that conducts hearings on alleged ethics violations has been fined $2,500 for attending a prayer breakfast and fundraiser for a political candidate, according to an ethics commission report released Tuesday.

The Illinois Executive Ethics Commission found Stephen Thurston violated state law by attending a March 25, 2011, prayer breakfast and fundraiser for David Moore, who was running for Chicago City Council. Thurston spoke at the breakfast about "Moore's Christian character, the need for everyone to get involved in the election process, and that Moore would be a good alderman," the ethics panel said in its report.

State law prohibits commissioners from contributing to political campaigns or even attending a rally for a candidate for a specific post. Moore lost in the April 2011 runoff election for the 17th Ward spot to incumbent Latasha Thomas.

Thurston told investigators from Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza's office that he didn't think he had done anything wrong, but he did not contest the report's findings that he "intentionally engaged in activity" that violated the ethics law.

Having already left the board job, the commission's only available penalty was a fine which could have run as high as $5,000. But the commission noted Thurston's cooperation with the investigation, lack of prior violations and the "limited scope and nature of the violation."

The commission, made up of nine members appointed by the governor and other statewide officeholders, conducts administrative hearings on alleged violations of the ethics law and annual training for employees of the executive branch.

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