Gov. J.B. Pritzker sought and accepted John Sullivan’s resignation as Illinois director of agriculture during the weekend, Emily Bittner, deputy chief of staff for communications in the governor’s office, said in a prepared statement.

“Director Sullivan had a long and productive public service career as a state senator, and the governor is grateful for his willingness to serve in the administration,” Bittner said.

John Sullivan

John Sullivan

“Director Sullivan put together an outstanding team at the Department of Agriculture, and as a result, the department’s work thrived,” she continued. “However, the governor holds all state employees to the highest ethical standards, and the governor requested the director’s resignation because he is disturbed that then-Senator Sullivan became aware of the existence of the July 31, 2012, email contemporaneously, and did not handle it appropriately, including not alerting the inspector general or other authorities.”

Last week, the Statehouse was hit by the disclosure of a 2012 email from a powerful lobbyist who hinted at a rape cover-up and other improprieties within state government.

Bittner said the governor’s general counsel has shared all of the information she learned from Sullivan with the Office of the Executive Inspector General and has offered to share this information with all law enforcement agencies looking into the situation.

The administration will continue to assist in the ongoing investigation, Bittner said.

Jeremy Flynn, chief of staff, will serve as interim director, according to Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation.