Supreme Court ruled Thursday a taxpayer watchdog group cannot
sue Gov. George Ryan and other state officials over a licenses-for-bribes
scandal. The decision strikes down a citizens' anti-fraud law.
decided that only the Illinois attorney general can sue state
officials to recover money, such as salary and benefits paid to
corrupt employees, which should have gone to the state.
as here, the state is the real party in interest, individual taxpayers
have no standing to bring the cause of action," Justice Thomas
Kilbride wrote for the court.
Government Association had sued over a bribery scandal that took
place while Ryan was secretary of state. The group was seeking
to recover the salaries of employees who took bribes to issue
driver's licenses to unqualified truckdrivers. It also sought
the salary of Ryan, who has not been charged with wrongdoing.
wanted an accounting of all illegal funds accepted by state employees.
It filed the lawsuit in 1999 under a law that let citizens sue
when the state was defrauded but the attorney general declined
to take action. The high court ruled the law unconstitutional.
defendant state officials ... and for that matter all state
officials, now have a virtual insurance policy guaranteeing their
immunity from accountability for wrongdoing committed in office,"
the group wrote.