County board appoints new state's attorney
Legal action was planned in the aftermath of Tuesday morning’s appointment of a new Union County state’s attorney.
The Union County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the appointment of Daniel Klingemann as state’s attorney.
The appointment was approved at a continued meeting of the Union County Board of Commissioners which was held at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The meeting was continued from a regular meeting of the county board which was held Friday morning, Aug. 23.
Tuesday morning’s meeting and last Friday morning’s session both were at the Union County Courthouse in Jonesboro.
A standing room only crowd was in attendance for Tuesday’s meeting, which lasted for a very short time. A large crowd also was on hand for Friday’s meeting.
The Union County state’s attorney’s office had been vacant since the resignation of Tyler R. Edmonds on Aug. 9. Edmonds resigned to accept a judicial post.
Klingemann formerly had served as an assistant Union County state’s attorney. He had left that post to work in private practice.
Edmonds was a Democrat. The person appointed to succeed him as state’s attorney also had to be a Democrat.
The Union County Democratic Party was expected to file legal action in response to the board’s action on Tuesday.
The party had recommended a candidate to fill the state’s attorney’s post. The party’s recommended candidate was not selected by the county board.
Board Chairman Reads Prepared Statement
Prior to the vote on the appointment of a new state’s attorney, board of commissioners chairman Max Miller read a prepared statement. The statement follows:
“We commissioners have not taken this responsibility lightly.
(At that point, some of the lights in the meeting room were accidentally turned off, which created a light-hearted moment and laughter.)
“This is a very important job within our County government. We feel it is in the best interest of the County to appoint someone who is experienced in the Courtroom and can be ready to assume the duties with minimal training.
“As part of our process of selecting the right candidate, we accepted resumes and interviewed the top 2 candidates in addition to the Democratic Party’s recommendation. I also personally spoke with the County Sheriff and former State’s Attorney. I was also contacted by several other law enforcement personnel and employees within our State’s Attorney’s office. All of which have been in support of my recommendation.
“The statute reads the office must be replaced with a person of the same party as the outgoing State’s Attorney. Despite having not voted in a primary, this gentleman has indicated he is a Democrat eligible for office appointment. From the information provided to me, there is nothing that indicates this is not accurate.
(continued on page 2)
“The State Board of Elections legal counsel was contacted and he indicated there is no case law or attorney general’s opinion that clarifies this issue. There are no specifics defining membership of a party in the statute that covers the State’s Attorney’s office.
“In the past few months, we have lost a judge to the appellate court, a judge to retirement and 4 public defenders. With all these changes our system has been disrupted. We are experiencing a backlog of court cases and an increasing jail bill. Our new judges have been working diligently to get organized and our County needs the most experienced State’s Attorney. I have never made a political motion or vote in my seven years and I sure as hell am not starting now. This is about doing what is best for the citizens of Union County and Union County government.
“This gentleman has worked in the office under Edmonds, knows the staff, judges and office system in place. The County is in need of someone that can take control of the office immediately and no other candidate can do that. He has participated in trials, (is) very experienced with juvenile cases and was the lead on mental health cases.
“Taking all of this under consideration, I make the motion to appoint Daniel Klingemann to the position of State’s Attorney effective September 16, 2019 for the remainder of the unexpired term.”
A resolution appointing Klingemann as Union County’s new state’s attorney then was approved by the commissioners on a party line vote.
Republican commissioners Max Miller, David Gould and Kent Pitts voted in favor of the appointment. Miller is the county board’s chairman.
Democrat commissioners Dale Foster and Bobby Toler Jr. voted no. Toler is the board’s vice chairman.
Klingemann, of Crainville, said he was looking forward to the challenges of working as state’s attorney. He said that circumstances surrounding his appointment were “bittersweet.”
He also made his political affiliation clear. “I have announced that I am a Democrat,” he said following his appointment.
The chairperson of the Union County Democratic Party said last Friday that she had secured the services of an attorney related to potential legal action surrounding the appointment of the county’s new state’s attorney.
Union County Democratic Party chairperson Teresa Vincent shared a copy of a letter which had been delivered to Max Miller regarding the matter. Miller is chairman of the Union County Board of Commissioners.
Vincent also said that legal action would be filed on Tuesday in response to the board’s action regarding the filling of the state’s attorney’s post.
The letter, dated Aug. 23, was written by attorney Timothy Keller of Marion.
Keller was in attendance at Tuesday morning’s continued meeting of the county board.
Following the meeting, Keller said that the appointment of a new state’s attorney would be the focus of a lawsuit which would be filed later on Tuesday in Union County Circuit Court in Jonesboro. Keller said that Klingemann is not qualified as a Democrat.
In the Aug. 23 letter, Keller said that he is representing Union County Democrats regarding the vacancy in Union County state’s attorney’s position.
On Aug. 5, Vincent nominated Tyler Dihle of Williamson County to the fill the post of Union County state’s attorney.
The letter stated that the county board interviewed Dihle on Aug. 9 “but refused to call his nomination for a vote instead tabling the matter.”
“Since then the Board has interviewed other individuals to fill the position, including Daniel Klingemann, even though Mr. Dihle is the only person nominated for the position,” Keller’s letter continued.
“It is our understanding the Board will be voting on the replacement on Tuesday, August 27th and I write on behalf of the Union County Democrats to ensure the ultimate replacement is properly credentialed to assume this vital position.”
Keller wrote that the Illinois Election Code “dictates the procedure and requirements for filling a vacant elective office and provides that the ‘appointee shall be a member of the same political party as the person he succeeds was at the time of his election and shall be otherwise eligible to serve.”
State guidelines provide “the test for determining which political party a person is a member of.”
“A person is a member of a political party for 23 months after...signing a candidate petition, as to the political party whose nomination is sought...signing a statement of candidacy, as to the political party where nomination of election is sought...signing a Petition of Political Party Formation, as to the proposed political party...applying for and receiving a primary ballot, as to the political party whose ballot is received...or...becoming a candidate for election to or accepting appointment to the office of ward, township, precinct or state central committeeperson.”
The letter noted that “Mr. Edmonds was a Democrat and accordingly his replacement must also be. Mr. Dihle pulled a Democratic primary during the 2016 election, ran for and was elected to the position of Democratic Committeeman in March 2018, is a duly licensed Illinois attorney who has tried multiple cases over the last 9 years, and has committed to moving to Union County if appointed. In short, he is more than qualified to fill the Union County States’ Attorney vacancy.”
“Mrs. Vincent previously relayed her concerns that Mr. Klingemann did not meet the criteria necessary to qualify him as a Democrat and was not a proper replacement during the August 12, 2019 board meeting. Your only response was to thank her for the information,” the letter continued.
The letter states that “Mr. Klingemann is not qualified to fill the position. Specifically, Mr. Klingemann does not meet the statutory criteria to establish him as a Democrat in that prior to the States Attorney vacancy he never:
“Signed a Democratic petition...signed a Democratic statement of candidacy in Union County...signed a Democratic Petition of Political Party Formation...applied for and received a Democratic primary ballot...nor, became a Democratic candidate for election to or accepted appointment to the office of ward, township, precinct or state central committeeperson.”
“If you possess information that contradicts this and indicates that he was an established Democrat prior to Mr. Edmonds’ resignation, please provide,” Keller wrote to the county board chairman.
“Specifically, my client requests you provide written proof from the Illinois Board of Elections that Mr. Klingemann was a Democrat prior to August 9, 2019 and provide your point of contact with the Board of Elections so the party may follow up with them.”
Keller said that if “this vital information is not provided and the vacancy is filled with someone without the proper credentials, the Democratic Party of Union County will be forced to challenge the improper appointment in court.
“It is of the utmost important that the Board proceed in a manner to avoid attacks on the integrity of any prosecutorial decision making by what may be deemed an illegitimate appointment, which could unnecessarily result in substantial costs to the County.”