Judge rules in treasurer's favor in civil rights lawsuit

News-DemocratJune 12, 2013 

Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler

EDWARDSVILLE - A civil rights lawsuit against Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler has ended in a directed verdict in Prenzler's favor.

Shortly after beginning his term as Madison County treasurer in 2010, Prenzler fired five people, including investment officer Jim Foley. He issued a public statement that Foley had violated office guidelines by investing in low-interest bonds that would cost the public more than $2 million.

Foley, however, said that his investments were all approved by Prenzler's predecessor and discussed with Prenzler himself. He sued Prenzler and Madison County in 2011, alleging that he was fired not for his investments, but because he was a Democrat. Prenzler, a Republican, had fired five Democrats upon taking office, Foley said, and Foley's position was filled by a Republican.

In June 2011, Prenzler sold the bonds at a loss of $365,698. In his suit, Foley contended that if the bonds had been held until October 2011 as originally intended, they would have garnered a profit of $80,000.

In pretrial documents, Prenzler argued that he was not aware that Foley was a Democrat, that Foley's investments violated office policy, and that Foley's position was not one protected from being dismissed on the grounds of political party.

The lawsuit trial began Tuesday in federal court. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy issued a directed verdict in Prenzler's favor.

Prenzler declined to comment.

Foley's attorney, Lee Barron, said the judge's decision was based on a technicality and that they are weighing their options.

"I do think one thing that came out of the trial was that every witness asked a question in the case indicated that they knew Jim Foley was a man of integrity and had made good investments for Madison County," Barron said.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

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