James Bohnsack is facing another call for his removal from the Metropolitan Airport Authority because he also serves on the Andalusia Fire Protection District board.
Edgar County Watchdogs, an independent, bipartisan government watchdog group in Illinois, has filed a second complaint with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the IDOT Department of Aeronautics stating Mr. Bohnsack's dual role on two boards is a violation of the Airport Authority Act.
Bohnsack, currently chairman of the airport authority commission, completed his first term Nov. 30, 2017. He was appointed to a second term set to expire Nov. 30, 2022. He was appointed to the Andalusia Fire Protection District in 2015. That appointment expires May 1, 2018. Rock Island County board members appointed him to a second term, set to expire May 1, 2021.
Edgar County Watchdogs stated in its complaint filed Friday that section 5 of the Airport Authority Act (70 ILCS 5/5) prohibits Bohnsack's appointment to commissioner because he is a member of the governing body of a unit of local government.
The Airport Authority Act states, "No person shall be appointed to the board of commissioners of any airport authority who has any financial interest in the establishment or continued existence thereof or who is a member of the governing body or an officer or employee of a municipality, a county, or any other unit of local government."
Edgar County Watchdogs filed an initial complaint with IDOT April 14, alleging Bohnsack should be disqualified from serving on the Airport Authority board because he resides in Andalusia. The Airport Authorities Act states commissioners are to reside within the territory of the authority.
The airport board levies taxes on just seven townships: Hampton, Moline, South Moline, Rock Island, South Rock Island, Blackhawk and Coal Valley.
John Kraft, a founder of Edgar County Watchdogs, said the group had been successful in the removal of three airport commissioners since its founding in 2011. Seven more, not counting Bohnsack, are pending or under review.
"I must say that our purpose isn't to go around removing airport commissioners," Kraft said. "We look at government accountability across the state. Some of the key problem areas we see are qualifications for office, open meetings and open records."
A posting on edgarcountywatchdogs.com reads, "Now (Bohnsack) has two strikes against his appointment as Airport Authority Commissioner."
Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee said he was aware another complaint had been filed.
"I think it's going to be an internal issue at this point," McGehee said. "The county board is not in a position to withdraw that appointment. The Airport Authority is an independent body.
"The Illinois Department of Transportation is very instrumental in how they analyze these kinds of issues. At some point they will make a recommendation to the Airport Authority on what to do. People are interested in how this issue is progressing."
McGehee said county board members were asking if they needed to respond or be involved, adding, "It's done as it relates to the county board."
McGehee said membership on two boards could present a conflict of interest.
"They could vote on one board to benefit another board," he said. "The law wants them to be completely independent."
Airport Authority attorney Roger Strandlund said that without a copy of the complaint, he could not comment on specific details.
"I wouldn't be able to comment on what I don't have in front of me," Strandlund said. "I don't have a file-stamped copy of anything. Potentially, the Airport Authority board will deal with those allegations. I have no communication from IDOT that will trigger this review."
Strandlund said the process must take its course, noting the next Airport Authority commission meeting was May 15.
"Every appointee receives a due-process right," Strandlund said. "I would not comment on something that has yet to occur to make sure the airport board deals fairly with it. It would impinge on the fairness of the process.
"In Mr. Bohnsack's case, he has always looked out for the interests of the airport. The Airport Authority board will deal with it seriously and give it a thorough review. I'm confident if called upon to do so, they will do that."
Kraft said he would follow up with a complaint to the Federal Aviation Administration. If the FAA finds the Airport Authority to be in violation, he said, federal funding to the Quad Cities International Airport could be withheld.
"Complaints to the FAA work even if IDOT doesn't see a conflict," Kraft said. "I'll give it about a week to see if (airport commissioners) come to their senses like they should. FAA will tell IDOT to stop the money."
Bohnsack and Airport Authority board vice-chairman John Malvik could not be reached for comment.