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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Caution: Statements of Economic Interest Must Be Filed With The Correct Office

On February 13, 2014, the Fist District Illinois Appellate Court issued a decision in Ferrand v. City of Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, confirming that candidates for public office must file the appropriate form of the statutorily required statement of economic interests (“SOEI”) in the correct office.  In that case, Melanie “Mel” Ferrand filed nominating papers to be a candidate for state representative for the 40th District.  Prior to filing her nominating papers, Ferrand filed her SOEI form on the local form with the Cook County Clerk. she then included a copy of the SOEI with the nominating papers she filed with the State Board of Elections. 

Objections were filed against Ferrand, alleging  that her nominating papers were invalid because she failed to file the proper SOEI form with the correct entity, which for state offices is the  Secretary of State, not the Cook County Clerk.  After the objections were filed and after the filing period for nominations had passed, Ferrand filed an “amended” SOEI with the Secretary of State. 

The Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners held a hearing and determined that Ferrand’s failure to file a state SOEI for a state office was a fatal flaw, and Ferrand was removed from the ballot.  Both the circuit and appellate courts agreed with the Board of Elections Commissioners.  The appellate court held that the form used by Ferrand was incorrect and that her “amended” SOEI did not cure the deficiency and would not "relate back" to the original filing of Ferrand’s nominating papers.  The court also rejected Ferrand's argument that she substantially complied with the statute, and concluded that Ferrand’s name should not appear on the ballot. 

The lesson for all candidates for public office in Illinois?  Make sure you file the correct SOEI form in the right office. 

Post Authored by Tiffany Nelson-Jaworski, Ancel Glink


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