EVANSTON, Ill. — Evanston’s city clerk spoke to WGN Investigates after potential official misconduct in Evanston could have the entire city council under investigation.
Evanston City Clerk Devon Reid faces accusations of wrongdoing in office, but the process in which he could have been disciplined appears to have been botched with sensitive, and embarrassing information leaked to the public that now has the sheriff looking into members of the city council.
In a letter obtained by WGN Investigations, Evanston Mayor Stephen Hagerty asked Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to open a criminal investigation of the entire Evanston City Council to find out who leaked “highly sensitive and confidential information” and documents containing embarrassing information related to workplace allegations. He said the leaking constitutes official misconduct.
“Instead of worrying about the underlying issues, he’s worrying about a leak, which seems somewhat Trumpian to me,” Reid said.
The underlying issues involve workplace accusations against Reid. Reid said he was speaking publicly because, in his view, the mayor mishandled the process for dealing with complaints against him when the mayor sought to formally censure or reprimand him in an open meeting.
“We don’t have a system for investigating elected officials when acts of misconduct are alleged,” Reid said.
WGN Investigates reviewed the documents that contain accusations against Reid saying he created a hostile work environment, engaged in sexual harassment and abused his power over open records.
The documents alleged Reid “attempted to record closed session” council meetings on a city-issued “laptop recorder.”
“I did not ‘attempt’ to record. My job as city clerk is to record executive sessions. There is a technological error at the end of an executive session, where the recorder stayed on and recorded 111 hours of my home life,” he said.
The confidential documents show “Reid sent his deputy clerk audio recordings of city council’s closed session” to be transcribed. The recording allegedly contained an offensive “sexually explicit conversation.”
“It was a bedroom conversation between two partners in the privacy of my own home,” Reid said.
The documents also detailed the deputy clerk’s allegations that “Reid repeatedly engaged in inappropriate, sexually-charged conversations in the office.”
The documents also alleged “Reid directed interns to create anonymous pseudonyms to make FOIA requests.” Reid said that claim was unsubstantiated.
The city council tabled the measure to censure Reid, meaning so far he has not faced any punishment for his alleged behavior. However, now it’s the members of the city council who could be in trouble for leaking the information.
“It seems that in the last few years, Evanston has been gearing toward Chicago style politics," Reid said.
Evanston’s mayor declined to comment on the situation. In his letter to council members, he said he asked for the criminal investigation to find the person who leaked the documents, hold them accountable and restore public trust in government.