Lakeisha Purchase violated IDOT policy, report says

Ward 5 alderperson cited for 'abusing' state time through personal phone calls, political work

click to enlarge Lakeisha Purchase violated IDOT policy, report says
Lakeisha Purchase, Springfield Ward 5 alderperson

Lakeisha Purchase took part in phone calls unrelated to her job at the Illinois Department of Transportation for almost half of the time she was supposed to be working during an 18-month period in 2021 and 2022, a state report says.

Purchase, 35, a former Capital Township trustee and the Springfield Ward 5 alderperson since September 2021, quit her job as an IDOT supportive services specialist on July 5, 2023, after 14 years with the department.

The 20-page report, made public in late May, recommended that Purchase be disciplined “up to and including discharge.”

But Purchase, who was interviewed by state investigators in September 2022, resigned from her $72,000-a-year state job six months before IDOT received the report from the executive inspector general for the agencies of the Illinois governor.

IDOT spokesperson Paul Wappel wouldn’t comment on whether the agency would seek reimbursement from Purchase or pursue criminal charges.

Wappel emailed a statement that said: “Through policy and repeated trainings, the Illinois Department of Transportation reinforces for employees that they will be held to the highest standards to ensure they are performing their state responsibilities on state time. The department takes appropriate action to address violations. We appreciate the recommendations in the report and the opportunity to remind our employees of the rules and responsibilities while working at IDOT.”

The OIG report said there is “reasonable cause to believe that Ms. Purchase violated IDOT policy by performing outside employment, including, at minimum, attending meetings and participating in phone calls related to her alderwoman and Capital Township trustee duties, during state time.”

The report said Purchase was mostly working for IDOT remotely when OIG received its first complaint in late October 2021 that she may be performing her aldermanic duties on state time.

In addition to “abusing state time,” the report said Purchase conducted “prohibited political activity, at a minimum by making and receiving phone calls and sending texts” when she was volunteering as an uncompensated central Illinois coordinator for Democrat Anna Valencia’s unsuccessful 2022 campaign for Illinois secretary of state.

Purchase declined an interview request from Illinois Times on May 31 and referred a reporter to a May 30 Facebook post on her aldermanic page in which she didn’t admit to any ethical lapses.

“While working for IDOT, I came up with multiple strategies to ensure that I could be present for and responsive to my constituents, like scheduling social media posts before working hours to happen later in the day, and clocking out multiple times per day or using personal time to take meetings related to city business and respond to constituent needs,” she wrote.

She continued in the post, which later was deleted: “I chose to leave state employment when it became clear that these strategies were not sufficient to provide the immediate responsiveness that my constituents expect and deserve.”

Though Purchase said she used “benefit time” to cover any meetings that occurred during her reported state work hours, there was no record of her submitting benefit time for any of the four Capital Township trustee meetings cited, as well as for a Sept. 28, 2021, lunch with then-Mayor Jim Langfelder, according to the OIG report.

Purchase “acknowledged that it was inappropriate for her to be on personal cellphone calls during her reported state work hours,” the report said. The report described the amount of personal cellphone usage on state time as “excessive.”

During the 18-month period studied, from March 2021 through August 2022, there were 279 days out of 301 workdays in which Purchase was on non-state calls exceeding one hour – the total time allotted for her lunch and breaks.

The report said there were 100 days in which non-state calls beyond the allowed lunch and break time totaled one to three hours; 132 days on which the calls totaled three to five hours; 44 days in which the calls totaled five to seven hours; and three days in which the calls totaled seven to eight hours.

“The total time during the workday Ms. Purchase spent on her personal cellphones was over 1,015 hours, which is the equivalent of 135 seven-and-a-half-hour workdays,” the report said. The 1,015 hours represented 44.8% of the 301 workdays.

Purchase told investigators that some of the calls cited in the report “were personal calls that she made to, or received from, friends and family and were unrelated to her state employment,” according to the report.

“Ms. Purchase added that during the time of some of these calls, she was going through a difficult time personally, and these calls may have involved people checking in on her,” the report said. “Ms. Purchase acknowledged that it was inappropriate to be on personal calls during her reported state work hours.”

The OIG report said Purchase also violated IDOT policy by failing to properly report all of her outside employment to IDOT, including her work as a Capital Township trustee, her work as owner of Kashmir DST LLC, a residential real estate development and management company, and her activities when she was owner, sales director and had assets or earned income from properties associated with a company called Precision 1-on-1 Properties.

Purchase, a Democrat, served as an elected Capital Township trustee from 2017 to September 2021. Trustees meet once a month and are paid $100 per meeting.

Former mayor Langfelder nominated Purchase for City Council approval to fill the Ward 5 vacancy created when incumbent Andrew Proctor resigned to move to the Chicago area for work. Proctor defeated Purchase and former Ward 5 Ald. Sam Cahnman to gain a second four-year term in 2019.

Purchase's nomination was approved by the council, and she was later elected to a four-year term, defeating Cahnman and write-in candidate Calvin Pitts, in April 2023.
Purchase has been on contract with Capstone Consulting, a lobbying firm owned by Springfield businessman Christopher Stone, since July 1, 2023, Stone said. The firm provides lobbying services to clients on state cannabis policy and state appropriations issues, Stone said.

Purchase has “done a pretty good job for us,” Stone said, adding that Purchase has been careful to avoid conflicts between her lobbying work and job as an alderperson.
The OIG report’s findings don’t affect Purchase’s ability to remain on the City Council.

When asked to comment, Haley Wilson, spokesperson for Mayor Misty Buscher, said the OIG report involves “a personal issue related to the alderwoman and not related to the city.”

Purchase supported Buscher when Buscher defeated Langfelder, the incumbent, in April 2023.

Purchase said in the Facebook post that representing residents of Ward 5, which includes parts of Springfield’s north side, downtown, near south and near west sides, is “my greatest honor and joy.” Like the other nine alderpersons, Purchase is paid $16,667 per year.

Purchase wrote, “Being an alderwoman is a full-time job, and constituents rightly expect that I will participate in city-related meetings and events, so having other employment is necessary.”

Purchase grew up in the Chicago area, attended Proviso East High School in Maywood and graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer at Illinois Times. He can be reached at 217-679-7810, [email protected] or

Dean Olsen

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer for Illinois Times. He can be reached at:
[email protected], 217-679-7810 or @DeanOlsenIT.

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