November 30, 2021 1:01 pm
Director fired after improper law certificate given to donor

Director fired after improper law certificate given to donor

SPRINGFIELD (Ill.) — An investigation into whether Brent Fischer, executive director of the standards board since 84, had issued a law enforcement certification to Howard Buffett’s son, Warren Buffett, revealed Wednesday.

The Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Governor determined that Brent Fischer, executive director of the standards board since 2015, issued the certificate to Howard Buffett, who had served a 14-month appointment as Macon County sheriff and in 2016 had donated land and $15 million for a law enforcement training academy.

Buffett is not identified in the report, but his resume and philanthropic activities are.

The standards board removed Fischer, who had previously been Adams County Sheriff for 17 years, on Sept. 8 from the $156,780 job after receiving the inspector general’s report. Such reports are by law kept confidential unless released by the Executive Ethics Commission, although reports that lead to termination of employment must be released within 60 days.

The inspector general’s investigation found that three hours after the board accepted a $10,000 donation from Buffett in January 2019 for a canine training program, Fischer issued a training waiver to allow Buffett to serve as a part-time undersheriff and a certificate to become a part-time law enforcement officer.

“Certification of law enforcement officer status, especially considering the significant public interest in maintaining integrity in that process, should not be minimized nor should it be provided based on someone’s ability to financially contribute … to the law enforcement community,” the report said.

The report suggested that the board establish standards for conflicts of interest.

Attempts to reach Fischer at numbers listed under his name failed. He wrote back to the inspector saying that the report did not contain any rule, regulation, statute or norm that he had violated. My performance should be measured against known, objective and accepted standards.”

Fischer was involved in another incident in January 2020 when he was forced to end a contract with an employee whose name surfaced in an email purporting government coverups involving a rape and illegal state hiring. The email was sent by a powerful lobbyist to an ex-governor a decade ago. Current Gov. J.B. Pritzker referred the matter for investigation.

Buffett has completed a substantial portion of the training courses but is short of the 560 hours required. He has also served as an auxiliary and volunteer sheriff in Arizona and Illinois.

He was appointed Macon County sheriff in 2017 to fill a vacancy, serving for 14 months. To be eligible for the job, sheriffs had to be U.S. citizens, have lived in the county for at least one year, and not have any felony records.

Buffett didn’t run in 2018, but the election was so close that it caused a three-year legal battle which was finally resolved in June.

That same month, Buffett dropped plans to seek the job in 2022 because a police-standards overhaul signed into law last winter requires elected sheriffs to have completed the basic training course.

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