ROCKFORD (WREX) — Paul Carpenter, a candidate for Winnebago County State's Attorney, was fired from his job in the state's attorney's office.
For nearly a decade, Carpenter worked for the Winnebago County State's Attorney's office, but on Tuesday, he was abruptly fired.
"The state's attorney called me yesterday morning and asked me about the contribution," Carpenter explains.
Carpenter gave $25 to a GoFundMe page for a citizen journalist whose photography equipment was damaged at a weekly protest. That citizen journalist is also criminally charged by the state's attorney's office, where Carpenter worked as an assistant attorney.
"I told her it was specifically not for bond," Carpenter says. "There was never any indication it would be for bond. That's important because there's a statute that prohibits attorneys from contributing to bond."
Angela Barron, the woman who created the GoFundMe page Carpenter donated to says she just wanted to help the citizen journalist with the damage.
"I come from a family of photographers and I know how expensive that equipment can be," Barron says.
Carpenter says he doesn't think what he contributed to has any impact on the state's attorney's charge, but his Republican challenger J. Hanley calls it poor judgement.
"The individual Mr. Carpenter donated to became a criminal defendant, and so Mr. Carpenter's office was the prosecuting agency and the problem is Mr. Carpenter's donation could be seen as compromising the impartiality of the state's attorney's office," Hanley says.
Carpenter says this changes nothing with his candidacy for state's attorney. Both he and Hanley say moving forward they want to focus on the issues for the position.
13 WREX asked current State's Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross about Carptener's termination. We were sent this statement:
“All employees employed by the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office are at-will employees which means that the employment relationship can be terminated by either party at any time without cause or advanced notice."