Three Investigations Into Quinn’s $55 Million Anti-Violence Program

Pat Quinn

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Illinois taxpayers should be upset about the millions of taxpayer dollars that Governor Pat Quinn distributed to anti-violence groups in the Chicago, Rockford and Metro-East areas during the months leading up to his 2010 election, a state lawmaker said Thursday.

Earlier this week, the Legislative Audit Commission announced it would be reviewing Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

Would this panel overlooking Quinn’s program be hinting of a pre-impeachment investigation?

“No, no,” insisted Commission member State Representative David Reis (R-Ste. Marie) to Illinois Review. “The bi-partisan Legislative Audit Commission monitors all legislative audits, and we meet regularly. But this is the first time the commission has asked for subpoena powers.”

All members of the committee except one – Chairman Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) — agreed this week to subpoena powers to investigate records and talk to witnesses about how the governor distributed $55 million in 2010 through the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

“Even with subpoena powers, we still need a majority on the commission to agree to send out subpoenas,” Reis said.

“The Commission’s subpoena authority allows members to dig deeper into NRI’s documentation, including emails, phone records and contract records, as well as question individuals involved in managing the multi-million dollar grant program,” Reis said.

“We are going to take every step necessary to protect taxpayer resources and expose unethical behavior surrounding the program.”

In 2011, State Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine), introduced a resolution asking the auditor general to audit the program, but couldn’t get the proposal out of committee. In 2012, Reis tried to pass a resolution to launch an investigation of the program and was supported by Latinos unhappy money was not spent in their communities. The program was audited and cut back from $30 million to $15 million, but continued.

The legislative commission’s new investigation is separate from the one being conducted by the Feds and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez (D-Chicago). Thus far, Attorney General Lisa Madigan has not raised concern about Quinn’s program, often citing the need not to double up on federal investigations.

AG Madigan’s silence on the Quinn probes interested Republican candidate for attorney general, Paul Schrimpf.

“Lisa Madigan’s actions–or lack thereof–over the last 11 years speak for themselves. She has proven that fighting corruption is not remotely close to her top priority,” Schimpf told Illinois Review. “Illinois needs an Attorney General with prosecutorial experience who can focus on rooting out corruption.”

In 2012, the Auditor General found the NRI program was “hastily implemented” with “pervasive deficiencies in Illinois Violence Prevention Authority’s (IVPA) planning, implementation and management.” The IVPA was disbanded in Fiscal Year 2013 and the NRI programs were put under the direction of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.