Towne indictment long in coming but worth wait, watchdogs say
Justice has been served, even if the wait time was excessive in the case of former La Salle County State's Attorney Brian Towne, the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW) said on its Illinois Leaks website.
A federal grand jury indicted Towne on 17 counts of felony misconduct and misapplication of funds on Sept. 5.
“I don’t know that the number of felonies should be considered a victory, although we are not surprised and are pleased to finally see a step towards justice,” ECW co-founder Kirk Allen told the Illinois Valley Times. “When the people have a place to turn with critical information and know they will be protected, that is a victory. It is the first step in building the public trust in the world of investigative journalism."
The ECW has been investigating Towne for years and in May 2016 presented alleged criminal evidence to Illinois authorities in the form of a multi-hour-length video, according to Allen.
“It appears most of what we wrote about is found as charges he is facing,” Allen said.
Allen pointed out that despite the long wait for an indictment, the case proves that there is empowerment in being able to educate the public and communicate with individuals seeking the same goal: truth and transparency in government.
“We consider the victory being the fact we had people who trusted us enough to provide us with key information to assist in our efforts of exposing what we considered to be violations of law,” Allen said. “Ben Franklin was asked: What kind of government did you give us? His response of ‘a republic’ also contained a second element that most fail to understand: ‘If you can keep it.' The only way we can keep it is to be actively involved in our local government and hold them accountable. When we ignore those using our tax money, they think they can do whatever they want.”