With the ousting of the head of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, John Sullivan, announced Monday, other lawmakers in the state have reacted swiftly to that announcement. Jil Tracy, the current 47th District State Senator, who replaced Sullivan in the 47th District said she was shocked by the news and surprised no one had contacted her about the 2012 Michael McClain email discussing a rape in Champaign and ghost workers in the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Tracy was a well-known lawyer in private practice in Mt. Sterling from 1980-1997. Former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan to serve as Illinois Assistant Attorney General and Director of the West Central Regional Office. She continued in that office under Attorney General Lisa Madigan until 2004. Tracy was appointed to the 94th Representative District in 2006 succeeding Art Treehouse who had resigned to take a new position. She served in the district until 2015 when she announced she would run against John Sullivan for the 47th District Senate Seat.
McClain and Tracy are familiar with each other: “He was a lobbyist for many years. Of course, he’s from Quincy. We attend the same church in Quincy. With Quincy being a small enough town like Jacksonville, I would see him at church and I would see him at the Capitol. Our paths certainly crossed, but we never had conversations of that nature [from the email.]”
Tracy said that McClain has sent communications to her office while lobbying for Walgreens when she was the State Representative for the 93rd District that covered Adams, Brown, Cass, Schuyler, and 7 other counties: “When he was lobbying for Walgreens, I would come into contact with him on issues about pharmaceuticals or something like that. I can’t remember any specific issues that we visited about. In social settings, because we attended the same church, it was always outside of a political arena or a legislative arena. No, we never discussed anything that was in the nature of that email.”
Tracy says she was happy with the work that John Sullivan did at the Illinois Department of Agriculture and as State Senator especially when it came to improvements with the Illinois State Fair. “I’ve been kind of shocked by this whole email, and appalled that it was dealt with so cavalierly. It dealt with some very important issues, whether it be the cover up of a rape or ghost payrollees, which would definitely effect taxpayers. I don’t think we have all the actual facts yet so I certainly support the idea of an investigation so that we do get the facts and that whatever victims out there exist – they get the proper justice they deserve.”
Tracy says she also had dealings with Forest Ashby, the employee insinuated in the middle of the McClain email to have kept quiet about the cover-up: “I met Forest when I first started office. At the time, he was a Republican precinct committeeman, I believe. He became active in Democrat politics after that. I did know him. I did see him around town. He lives in Quincy. He served on some boards that I was also on. Our paths crossed. It was cordial in social settings. Of course, he worked in Corrections, which is important to me since I lived in Mt. Sterling and represented the employees that worked [at Western Illinois Correctional Facility] and the region that it sat in. I do know him, but I certainly have had no conversations with him of any nature regarding what was in that email or even that he had an administrative hearing.”
Tracy said that if she had any knowledge of the contents of the email she would have certainly turned it over to the office of the Inspector General and notified proper authorities. “I certainly did serve at that time. I had no knowledge of that email. The email certainly has a partisan tone to it. I was kind of surprised by it and glad that I wasn’t privy to it. I certainly would have turned it over to the Office of the Inspector General and law enforcement to have it investigated.”
Tracy said that she is glad that the issue has come to light so that the state can move forward and do better about the way politics happens in the state.