Lake Co. surveyor hopeful says he would quit job at BP, if elected
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent October 31, 2012 10:28PM
Updated: December 2, 2012 2:14PM
Republican Lake County Surveyor candidate Eric Krieg said Wednesday he will quit his high-paying engineering job at the BP refinery in Whiting to become a full-time official if elected.
That, he said, should put an end to any questions about a perceived conflict of interest he might have in dealing with the other oil companies whose pipelines cross Lake County and whether he will be a part or full-time official.
Incumbent Surveyor George Van Til on Monday raised concerns about a conflict of interest Krieg would have if elected with his private-sector employer BP and the other companies — including Enbridge, Marathon and Buckeye — whose pipelines run through the county. It was the latest volley in an on-going offensive by both sides attacking their opponents.
“I always said I would be full-time but I’ve had to dance around the issue a little bit,” Krieg said. He said he did not want to commit publicly to leaving his job at BP because he did not want to risk losing his private-sector employment if his run for surveyor not successful.
As recently as Monday Krieg implied he would be keeping his job when answering questions about whether that employment would cause a conflict of interest in the surveyor’s office with the other pipeline companies.
“I would hope people could understand why that’s the reluctance (to announce I’d resign). The focus needs to be on Van Til and the things he’s done wrong,” Krieg said, citing an ongoing federal investigation into Van Til and the Surveyor’s Office and recent changes in the department’s bidding and bonding procedures initiated after he pointed out irregularities.
“I’m big on getting past this irrelevancy,” Krieg said of his opponent’s claims.
Van Til said the potential for conflict is real. He said the Surveyor’s Office is currently in negotiations with BP regarding some of its pipeline crossings. The issue has been ongoing for months and the two sides have not been able to reach an agreement.
“It puts a guy like him right in the middle of it,” Van Til said. No action will be taken on the matter until after the election.
Van Til also was outspoken against Krieg’s plans to keep his private-sector employment. Krieg would be inaccessible for residents and his county duties if he were to retain his full-time post with BP, he said.
If elected, Krieg would be paid an additional $27,000 over what the position normally pays because state law provides additional compensation for someone in the post with an engineering degree. Krieg is a mechanical engineer. He would make about $85,000 annually. He said he would be giving up some income to resign from BP to work full-time in the county.
Van Til said he was “delighted” Krieg has seen the light and now plans to be a full-time employee if elected.
“It certainly flies in the face of what his plans were. Once his plans were exposed, now he’s turning 180 degrees.”