Editor’s Note: We received the following correspondence from District 3 County Board Member Riley Oncken:
Fellow Board Members and Department Heads:
Attached is a copy of the Formal Opinion from the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office which I received yesterday afternoon. As you can see, it is quite thorough and I want to thank Ms. Klein and Mr. Schmack for their work. Feel free to share it with anyone who may be interested in this issue.
After having reviewed the Opinion, spoken to independent counsel, and conducted independent research, I concur with the Opinion of the State’s Attorney’s Office that there is not a conflict of interest in my service to the public as member of the County Board and to my service to those indigent clients whom I am appointed by the judiciary to represent. I will continue to serve on the County Board and will remain a candidate for election in November.
Throughout the past two weeks, I have spoken to various members of the public, both those familiar with politics and the judicial system, and those who are unfamiliar. After dozens of conversations, I did not get any sense that there is a perceived conflict of interest. The only allegations of a conflict have come from a few, vocal, individuals within the system who have their own agenda and seek to do me harm for their own political, personal, or financial reasons. I will not be bullied or manipulated into resigning by those who put their own interests above those of the public.
However, as I did in 2013, I will abstain on the votes for the budget this year, as the budget contains a recommended salary for conflict counsel attorneys. Although, according to the State’s Attorney’s Opinion, Judge Stuckert is free to disregard the salary/benefits recommended by the County Board in its budget, I want to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in this area.
I want to thank the elected officials, department heads, and members of the community who have expressed their support for me during this difficult period. I also want to thank my wife, family, and friends for their continued support and prayers. As Ms. Klein stated in her opinion, allegations of a conflict of opinion are easy to make, and put me in the position of having to prove a negative; the absence of a conflict. Based upon the comprehensive opinion of the State’s Attorney, I hope I have done so to all of your satisfaction.
I hope that this opinion will be sufficient to convince Anthony Cvek, Clay Campbell, and any others who may share their misguided beliefs. If it is not, there is little else I can do to “prove my innocence.” It is my hope that we can move past this issue and move forward with doing the people’s business on the County Board.
I remain willing to discuss this issue with any of you personally. As I have stated before, my integrity is of the utmost importance to me and I will continue to vigorously defend it against anyone seeking to challenge it. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Riley N. Oncken
County Board District 3
Link to: Formal Opinion from the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office
Click Here To Submit A News Tip Or Story