We don’t see a lot of Attorney General opinions except for those issued by the Public Access Counselor’s office regarding Open Meetings and FOIA complaints. But the Attorney General did just release an opinion regarding incompatibility of two offices earlier this month. Att’y Gen. Op. 21-001.
As background, there are certain government offices that are “incompatible” with one another – in other words, a person serving in one government office cannot simultaneously serve in another incompatible government office. There are a number examples in state statute, Attorney General opinions, and even a few court cases that discuss the “incompatibility of office” doctrine. The purpose of this doctrine is to avoid any potential or inherent conflicts of interest that might come up for the office holder who may have divided loyalties on a particular matter before both government bodies or may be serving in one position that has oversight over the other position.
As an example of an incompatible office, there is a state statute that prohibits a trustee or alderman in a municipality from holding any other office under the municipal government during the officer’s term of office. 65 ILCS 5/3.1-15-15. The Attorney General has also opined that a village trustee or alderman cannot serve on a school district or as park board president.
In the above-referenced Attorney General opinion, the Attorney General was asked to provide an opinion as to whether a member of the Illinois state senate could simultaneously serve in the Office of Assistant States Attorney. The Attorney General found those two offices incompatible. Specifically, the Attorney General noted that both offices are offices of the state with the States Attorneys office being part of the “executive branch” and the State Senate being part of the “legislative branch.” As a result, simultaneous service in both offices would violate the separation of powers doctrine in the Illinois constitution.