'Lobstergate' bar tab mystery tough to crack
The plot has thickened in the so-called "lobstergate" investigation by the Edgar County Watchdogs.
Two poolside purchases made by Orland Park official Karie Friling while she was in Las Vegas in May 2016 have proved seemingly impossible to pin down, with the Edgar County Watchdogs saying it has not received a response to its requests to identify what Friling purchased with taxpayer money.
The group has already pointed out that Friling charged a steak and lobster dinner at the Las Vegas' upscale Venetian Hotel to Orland Park taxpayers. The group took issue not only with Friling’s choice of lodging — reminding readers that village policies stipulate that officials should seek “affordable and reasonable accommodations when on the road” — but also with her expensive taste in meals.
The Orland Park director of Development Services ran up a $91.77 dinner bill, but the Edgar County Watchdogs said her hotel tab also showed additional charges of $36.91 and $26.79 being incurred at poolside bars.
The Edgar County Watchdogs says neither the hotel nor the village will say what Friling bought at the bars. It is alleging that the village is in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
“Curiously, the Village of Orland Park elected not to produce any receipts” for the additional charges despite a [Freedom of Information Act request] to the municipal government, the Edgar County Watchdogs said on its Illinois Leaks website.
The group asked why Friling didn't keep records or pay for the items with her own money. It cited a Better Government Association report from 2015 that identified Friling as the fourth-highest paid Orland Park official.
“Why didn’t Friling keep those paper receipts and turn them in when she returned from Vegas like she is mandated to do?” the group asked.
The Edgar County Watchdogs also questioned why the village’s FOIA compliance officer didn’t produce records when asked.
“Everything endemically wrong with Illinois as a whole is illustrated in the ongoing soap opera of bad government that is Orland Park,” it said.