Jacob M. “Jake” Lee

Jacob Lee

AGE: 33

OCCUPATION: Kankakee County Auditor (incumbent)

EDUCATION: AS in Business Administration, Grantham University; BA in Business Administration, Ashford University; BS in Accounting, Governors State University; Master of Business Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago. Over-the-years obtained hundreds of hours of additional continuing professional education in critical areas such as governmental accounting and finance, personal development, human resources, safety, ethics, management, and leadership.

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Three years of governmental internal auditing as an elected official; 5 years of operational and safety audits; 2 years of budget preparation, contract negotiations, and purchase card and supply management; over 10 years in management positions, leading teams and delivering results. United States Navy Veteran.

Why are you seeking the position of Kankakee County auditor?

I have been the elected auditor for the past three years. During that time, I have fought hard to get the office restored to where it legally belongs and contribute in a substantive way to the accountability and transparency of county operations and spending. With only one employee, I instituted the first taxpayer fraud reporting hotline; the first fraud prevention education program; the first auditor internship program, investing over 400 hours of training to future accountants; lectured at DePaul University and Olivet Nazarene University educating students of government accounting, auditing and financial reporting; identified over $100K of wasteful spending; processed and audited over 25,000 claims for payment; and provided over 50 recommendations for process improvement or compliance to name a few accomplishments. There is much more work to do, and re-electing me will afford the opportunity to finish the important work I started.

What would be your No. 1 priority if elected?

If I am re-elected, my No. 1 priority is to get the elected office restored to where it legally belongs to increase efficiencies, accountability and transparency in government operations. The duties, powers and functions that were removed from the elected office and placed under the County Board must be returned, along with a proper budget to carry out those duties, powers and functions. The Auditor’s Office belongs to the people, and I intend to make sure it is returned to the people as intended when the office was created in Kankakee County in 1964.

What would you change about the current structure of the county’s bill-paying procedures?

I would make sure the process in accordance with state law. Currently, the accounting process and procedures are in violation of the law and they have been for almost two decades. I fought for the past three years to get the county into compliance with the law. In addition, if the Auditor’s Office can obtain its rightful duties, powers and functions, we will make the process more efficient, substantive, accountable and transparent. I have already significantly improved the presentation and the content of the claims report and the quarterly report; I would do the same thing with all the other financial reports produced by the county.

Should there be oversight of the county auditor’s office? If yes, who should provide that oversight?

Yes, there should be oversight of every office in county government. The statute already provides specific oversight in two areas: 1) technical oversight through the external auditing firm that provides annual audit services to the county and, 2) budgetary oversight, which is vested in the County Board. Finally, the ultimate and perhaps most important oversight is from the taxpayers, the citizens of Kankakee County. The citizens should not only expect transparency from their government, they should demand it.

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