Bill Kresse is a self-described “endangered species” — a Republican college professor and union member who lives in Beverly.
And on Friday he’ll be sworn in by Chief Cook County Judge Timothy Evans as a Chicago Board of Elections Commissioner.
The man whose expertise on combating various swindles earned him the nickname “Professor Fraud” was chosen out of eight qualified applicants.
On Thursday evening, he rushed over to his mother’s home to get the family Bible for his swearing in. His mother died nearly two weeks ago.
“This is kind of a bittersweet week for me. I got this appointment but my mother passed. When something like this happens the first person you want to call is your mother. But I’m sure she’s looking down and smiling,” Kresse, 57, said.
Kresse will fill the Republican seat on the three-member board that became vacant with the death of Commissioner Richard A. Cowen. Evans is also starting another application process to fill the seat held by Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal, who announced he’d resign on Dec. 31.
That position will be posted for two weeks beginning Nov. 23.
Kresse is a lawyer and professor at Governors State University. He previously taught fraud and forensic accounting at St. Xavier University for 23 years. He’s also a certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner.
Professional fraud examiners work in detecting, preventing and deterring types of fraud, which include accounting fraud, voter fraud and embezzlement, Kresse says.
Kresse also served as an election central attorney for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners since 1992 and as a hearing officer for the board since 2009. He also served as a hearing officer for the Cook County Officers Electoral Board since 2012.
Jokes aside, Kresse says he doesn’t believe his expertise in fraud won him the appointment, citing his election attorney experience.
“I’m not like a busy attorney whose got a bunch of clients who might be in front of the election board. I’m sort of an independent voice in many respects,” Kresse said.
He’s been called by reporters for years when they need a good source about fraud.
When the nickname “Professor Fraud” came around, he decided to trademark it.
“I’ve got the Professor Fraud Facebook Page. I’ve got the Professorfraud.com and who knows, action figures are next I guess,” Kresse said.
Kresse served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz from 1987 to 1990 and says he’ll follow the judge’s lead in keeping an open-door policy as he serves as a commissioner, for both the media and the public.
“His point was that we are public servants. We work for them, and too many people get the idea that they work for us,” Kresse said. “Keep the door open when they come in. Welcome them and hear what they have to say. I’m going to try and apply that as best I can.”