Election 2014
5:35 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Republicans Blast Treasurer Candidate Frerichs On Champaign County Record

Credit ilga.gov

  The Democratic candidate for state treasurer is catching flak from Republicans, who are critical of his time as a local official. But Mike Frerichs' (D-Champaign) campaign says Republican opponent Tom Cross (R-Oswego) is playing "revisionist history."

Frerichs, currently a state senator, was elected to the Champaign County board in 2000, then became the county's auditor in 2002. Republicans point out that during Frerichs' time as auditor, the County Board implemented an early retirement program to save money.

But they say the move ended up costing taxpayers because Frerichs neglected signs from the stock market, which went into a major decline.

Former Illinois GOP chair Pat Brady says that shows Frerichs can't handle the office of treasurer.

"He cost the taxpayers of that county tens of thousands, if not millions of dollars," he said. "And we can't take that and add 101 counties to it and have him run the whole state, given the current state of the state of Illinois."

But a spokesman from the Frerichs campaign says the candidate had nothing to do with the final decision about the program; He says as auditor, Frerichs simply ran the numbers and the county board voted to approve early retirements.

Republicans also allege Frerichs has a history with patronage. They say during his time as a Champaign County official, Frerichs had a hand in political hiring of two county officials who ended up being a drain of resources.

While Frerichs has said he wants to clean up state government, Republican Mark Shelden, former Champaign County Clerk, says Frerichs' history indicates the opposite.

"His record is that he has no intention of ending those political games," he said. "Mike viewed his job as politics first and the public service part as second, and I think that's unfortunate."

The Frerichs campaign says the two hires were no result of patronage, as Frerichs did not vote on the appointments, nor did he oversee the workers. Republicans also raised questions about Frerichs' departure from the county board.  But a Frerichs spokesman says he left the board as a result of a restructuring of the county government.

The campaign says Cross and his allies are throwing stones to win voters.