A nominee for a state watchdog post touted as a “nationally recognized expert on ethics” withdrew his nomination on Thursday after politically slanted social media posts surfaced — including one in which he wondered if COVID-19 “might be God’s punishment for [Donald Trump’s] election and reign?”
Dennis Rendleman, who was the nominee for the executive inspector general position in Democratic Treasurer Michael Frerichs’ Office, asked that his nomination be withdrawn.
A spokesman for the treasurer’s office confirmed Rendleman’s withdrawal in a statement that read more like a vote of confidence in the nominee, who apparently was serving in the position on an interim basis.
“Dennis Rendleman is a nationally recognized expert on ethics,” the spokesman’s statement reads in part. “In Mr. Rendleman’s nearly 40-year legal career, there have been no issues or concerns raised about his ability to separate his personal opinions from the objective and neutral positions with which he has been entrusted by [the University of Illinois at Springfield, the Illinois State Bar Association, the American Bar Association] and the Illinois Supreme Court.”
Rendleman did not return messages from the Chicago Sun-Times asking for an explanation of his decision. Frerichs’ website still listed him as the office’s executive inspector general late Thursday night.
The Center Square, an online media outlet focusing on state and local government, first reported on Rendleman’s exit from the position, attributing it to Republicans learning of his social media posts.
In one Facebook post from last July, Rendleman writes in part “ever wonder if Covid might be God’s punishment for 45’s election and reign?” referring to the former president.
Many of Rendleman’s Facebook posts are about Trump. A scan of his page shows the former inspector general nominee posted negative opinion stories and political cartoons about the former Republican president. Other posts were about the pandemic and the importance of masking.
State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, initially supported Rendleman’s appointment but then requested a Senate committee withhold a vote on it after learning of the social media posts, The Center Square reported.
“We saw bad language, we saw posts that were accusing Republicans of killing people, essentially,” McClure said in audio posted on The Center Square website.
“We saw posts that were just over the top extremist language, which is just totally inappropriate for someone who wants to continue to serve, by the way, he’s been serving in this capacity while making these posts, but someone who’s supposed to be an inspector general, kind of above the fray, fair, impartial — that is not what we were seeing with these posts.
“They were of the most extreme types of political discussions on his Facebook page, and all of us believed they were inappropriate. And some of them were just ridiculous.”
McClure did not respond to requests for comment from the Sun-Times.