Our View: Payments must end in Bianchi case
It would be great if we could say that the taxpayers’ meter stopped running on the debacle that was the prosecution of McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi when McHenry County officials cut another check for $378,327 this week.
Great, but it’s probably not the truth. Bianchi, and other defendants caught up in this quagmire, already got $275,000 from taxpayers to recoup their defense.
McHenry County also got $105,000 back from a settlement of part of Bianchi’s lawsuit, but some of that lawsuit initially was filed against special prosecutors Thomas McQueen and Henry Tonigan.
To date, taxpayers have paid about $780,000 in the case initially launched to investigate whether Bianchi was illegally requiring his employees to perform campaign functions on taxpayer time. After two trials and two acquittals, it has not been money well spent.
And to add insult to injury, taxpayers could still be on the hook to pay for McQueen’s defense in Bianchi’s civil-rights lawsuit against him since McQueen was hired by the county to conduct the prosecution.
As we’ve said before, we supported an initial probe into allegations from Bianchi’s former secretary who provided testimony that Bianchi was requiring employees to perform campaign work.
The activity probably should have stopped there, and McHenry County Judge Gordon Graham certainly should not have authorized allowing the special prosecutors to explan their scope resulting in another ill-conceived indictment that was thrown out at trial.
But the fact is that two investigations and two trials happened and the county has to pay the lawyers and investigators who did the work whether it was good or bad.
We certainly hope that someone stops the bleeding and stops it very soon.