Connelly no longer inspector general for city of Joliet

IG Connolly conducted controversial investigations since being contracted for job in 2022

Inspector General Sean Connolly leaves the Will County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 in Joliet.

Joliet has removed Inspector General Sean Connolly from the position while leaving him with authority to continue his most controversial case accusing top police officials of conspiracy.

Connolly informed the Herald-News about his removal when he was contacted about an investigation into the Joliet Area Historical Museum.

“I’ve been discharged as inspector general,” Connolly said.

Connolly said he would leave it to city officials to comment on why he was discharged, an action taken by new City Manager Beth Beatty.

“The city manager was respectful to me, and I want to pay her the same courtesy,” Connolly said. “I feel like we gave the city very good service.”

Connolly, a private attorney with an office in Westmont, was not an employee of the city, but he was contracted to serve as the city’s inspector general in February 2022 and had since served in the position.

Beatty confirmed Connolly’s removal, which she said occurred Jan. 24.

Joliet City Manager Beth Beatty and City Attorney Chris Regis listen to discussion of the city's new ordinance regulating potential asylum-seeker buses during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024.

“We talked, and I want to start with a clean slate of my own team,” Beatty said.

Beatty arrived as city manager Dec. 11. She said she intends to find another private attorney to serve as inspector general.

Connolly will be allowed to continue with what has been his most explosive investigation – allegations of what he termed “a cabal” that included former Joliet Police Chief Al Rochener, Deputy Chief Marc Reid and others – including two Joliet council members and a former editor of the Herald-News – to bring a false police report alleging intimidation against former Mayor Bob O’Dekirk in 2020.

That investigation may be stymied by a Will County judge’s ruling in December that the city inspector general does not have the authority to subpoena records from the state police, which Connolly has appealed.

“I have been given permission to continue with the appeal and with the investigation if I’m successful with the appeal,” Connolly said.

Connolly also issued three reports alleging conflicts of interests or misconduct against council member Pat Mudron regarding his insurance business dealings with the Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet Area Historical Museum and Joliet Park District.

His future as inspector general appeared to be on shaky ground when O’Dekirk, who used the conspiracy report released about a month before the April 2023 election in his campaign, was defeated by Terry D’Arcy, and Mudron, a longtime associate of D’Arcy, was reelected.

In August, Mudron led an effort to block a $5,734 payment to Connolly for inspector general services.

Council Member Pat Mudron listens to Inspector General Sean Connolly speak on the conspiracy allegations against Joliet Mayor Bob O’DeKirk during the City Council Meeting at City Hall in Joliet on Monday, March 13th, 2023.

The motion was defeated in a 5-4 vote in which D’Arcy joined the minority voting against payment.

Beatty said the decision to remove Connolly was hers, but she informed the mayor and City Council in closed session two weeks ago of her intention.

D’Arcy could not be reached for comment Friday.

Mudron, who did not attend the council meeting at which Beatty met in closed session with the council concerning Connolly’s removal, said he did not know Connolly was out and could not comment.

Connolly’s removal comes ahead of a Tuesday vote on $250,000 in annual funding for the Joliet Area Historical Museum.

The council in December tabled the vote until Tuesday’s date, with members saying they wanted to take a closer look at a Connolly report that was critical of museum management and the dismissal of 13 people, including eight employees and five volunteers who started in May 2023.

Connolly’s report recommended that the city conduct its own audit of the museum before approving the funding.

City staff is recommending that the council approve the funding.

Although Connolly will continue working on the investigation regarding the alleged conspiracy against O’Dekirk, he will do the work pro bono, or without being paid by the city.

Connolly referred questions as to why he would not be paid to the city.

Beatty said she took him up on it when Connolly offered to continue the case pro bono.

“[The investigation] was something that he wanted to complete, so we gave him that authority,” she said.

Connolly said he was not surprised by his removal and was not bitter, noting that he appreciated being able to serve in the role as inspector general for Joliet for two years.

“When a new administration comes in, they want to have their own people,” he said. “I understand that. They were courteous to me.”