Chicago treasurer denies wrongdoing in exclusive interview after IG launches ethics investigation

Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin married to Chicago Alderman Jason Ervin

Craig Wall Image
Thursday, September 21, 2023
'Nothing to hide': Chicago treasurer denies wrongdoing amid probe
Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin is denying wrongdoing in an exclusive interview after a Chicago Inspector General investigation was launched.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's embattled city treasurer spoke publicly Thursday for the first time about allegations of possible illegal and unethical behavior leveled against her.

Melissa Conyears-Ervin sat down for an exclusive interview with ABC7 Chicago, and denied any wrongdoing.

Those allegations have now prompted the Chicago Inspector General to launch an investigation into possible ethics violations.

Conyears-Ervin went on the offensive to, in her words, separate fact from fiction about a whistleblower complaint filed by two former employees.

In the December 2020 letter sent to the Board of Ethics, they alleged that the treasurer "... engaged in a pattern of disturbing conduct against the public trust, many of which violated City of Chicago ethics rules as well as state and federal law."

"We're talking about a demand letter from three years ago, Craig, that is a gross misrepresentation of this office and the work that we do each and every day," Conyears-Ervin said.

Among the allegations is that Conyears-Ervin used her assistant to run personal errands, including grocery shopping and planning her daughter's birthday party.

"This allegation is absurd," Conyears-Ervin said.

But Conyears-Ervin repeatedly evaded questions about whether she engaged in such activity.

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"According to the allegations, employees were doing personal errands on city's time. That did not occur," Conyears-Ervin said. "Craig, I am going to speak to the allegations, and the allegation spoke to employees doing work for me on city's time; that did not occur."

Her response was troubling for the head of the Better Government Association.

"There ought to be a complete separation of one's public life and private life, and there's no such thing as asking a favor of somebody who works directly for you, whether it's on their personal time or on company time," said David Greising, president of the Better Government Association.

The treasurer admitted to the allegations that she approached BMO Harris Bank, which does business with the city, to help with a mortgage loan on behalf of the owner of a West Side church. It did not go through. But that building is the same one where her husband Jason Ervin rents space for his aldermanic office. Conyears-Ervin saw nothing wrong with it.

"My office has the responsibility to advocate for all Chicagoans. That is our responsibility," Conyears-Ervin said.

Just last week the Chicago Inspector General came to the treasurer's office demanding computer records.

"There is nothing to hide," Conyears-Ervin said.

Conyears-Ervin said they took computers.

Greising said the Inspector General's investigation does indicate there are some serious concerns about activity in the treasurer's office.

Conyears-Ervin said she's "confident" nothing is going to come of it.

She was supposed to launch her Congressional bid on Sept. 10, but after the story first broke in the Chicago Tribune days earlier, that's been put on hold.