Appointment marks continuation of Blagojevich’s reform agenda
CHICAGO -- Following through on his commitment to bring fundamental change to state government, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced today the appointment of an experienced federal prosecutor to lead his administration’s efforts to ensure that employees under his jurisdiction abide by high ethical standards.
Blagojevich named Zaldwaynaka (“Z”) L. Scott as his choice to become Inspector General, a position that the governor created by executive order early in his administration. The creation of the post is one in a series of measures the governor has taken to institute key reforms and to signal that potential acts of public corruption will not be tolerated by his administration.
“The establishment of an independent Inspector General’s office is intended to make it clear that we are changing a culture of corruption that for far too long was allowed to permeate state government,” he said. “The people of Illinois demand and deserve a new era of integrity, openness and accountability,” the governor added, “and ‘Z’ Scott will help my administration fulfill that important goal.”
Scott will be designated to carry out investigations of potential acts of public corruption or misconduct allegedly committed by any employee of the governor’s office or other parts of the government-- including agencies, departments, or boards and commissions-- that are directly responsible to the governor.
To ensure the greatest degree of independence, the Inspector General will have direct access to the governor and regularly report to him on pending or recently launched investigations. At the conclusion of each investigation launched by her office, the Inspector General will issue a summary report to be delivered within six months to the governor and—if applicable—to the head of any agency where the acts were found to have occurred.
The executive order that created the Inspector General’s position also empowers members of the general public to play a role in reporting and uncovering any instances that they witness of unethical behavior. The Inspector General’s office will establish and maintain a “Citizens Ethics Hotline,” a toll-free phone number that any Illinois resident or employee of state government can call to anonymously and confidentially report instances of public corruption. Blagojevich called the hotline “our eyes and ears to help ensure higher ethical standards.”
To encourage cooperation with the Inspector General, the governor’s executive order also includes a whistleblower protection act. Disciplinary action will be taken against any state employee who seeks to intimidate any individual who provides information to the Inspector General.
Blagojevich cited Scott’s work as a federal prosecutor, and her senior leadership role within that field, as a key factor in her appointment.
Scott has served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois since 1987. For the past six and a half years, she has served as chief of the general crimes section of the office. In that role, she oversees the work of approximately 30 attorneys and reviews all prosecutorial decisions made by lawyers assigned to the division.
“I am confident that Ms. Scott’s extensive credentials prosecuting criminal activity-- as well as her experience demanding high quality work from lawyers under her supervision-- will translate into real results for the people of Illinois,” the governor said.
In addition to her many professional accomplishments, Blagojevich said that he selected Scott because he was impressed by her commitment to fighting for government reform and her well-established reputation for integrity.
“She shares my belief that we should not yield in our efforts to root out corruption. Ms. Scott understands, as I do, that now is the time for all state employees to be put on notice that their job is to serve the public interest— rather than their own self-interest,” he said.
Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Scott was assistant corporation counsel for the city of Chicago, where her work included enforcement of the city’s housing ordinances.
Additionally, for the past decade, she has served as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University Law School, teaching classes in trial practice. During recent years, Scott has also taught courses at the University of Chicago Law School and John Marshall Law School.
Ms. Scott’s civic and community-based involvement includes work as a board member of the Chicago Area Project, an initiative dedicated to providing fulfilling activities to at-risk youth.
Her professional affiliations include leadership roles within the Black Women Lawyer’s Association of Greater Chicago, Inc.; the Illinois State Bar Association’s minority and women participation committee; and, on multiple occasions, serving as a lecturer during conferences on violent crimes organized by the U.S. Department of Justice. Ms. Scott was the recipient of the DOJ’s Executive Office Superior Performance Award and Special Achievement Awards, and was named Outstanding Adjunct Professor in Trial Advocacy at Northwestern’s law school.
"I am honored to have been selected by the Governor to serve the people of the State of Illinois. I look forward to being part of an effort to bring positive change to State government," Ms. Scott said.
Ms. Scott resides in the Chicago with her husband and two children.