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*** UPDATED x1 *** Quinn campaign claims Hynes “cover-up”

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010

* Until now, the Quinn campaign’s angle on the newly released Burr Oak Cemetery documents (background here and here) has been less than effective. For instance, Gov. Quinn trotted out Congressman Bobby Rush yesterday, who promptly labeled Dan Hynes “evil.” Yeah. That’ll work.

On Sunday, Quinn blasted Hynes for “ignoring the desecration of human remains at a black cemetery,” which was the “incompetence” angle

Critics say that Dan Hynes and his staff acted with utter incompetence back in 2003 when he first learned about this scandal and he could have averted six more years of needless cemetery grave robbing with a simple phone call to the police.

Stanislaw, a cemetery worker in the Southwest Side of Chicago, said, “This Dan Hynes guy isn’t competent to run a dog catcher’s office let alone the office of overseeing one single cemetery. It’s unbelievable that his office knew about Burr Oak’s troubles in 2003 and withheld this information from the public,” said Stanislaw who requested that Polish News withhold his full name.

Quinn also pushed the “uncaring” angle, which was mentioned by Rush yesterday…

Quinn says this shows Hynes didn’t care.

QUINN: If you’re in public office and you learn of some wrongdoing that affects something as serious as burying your loved ones, do you use a bureaucratic excuse and say, ‘That’s not my job,’ or do you roll up your sleeves and correct the wrong?

But with the clock ticking fast, their best angle is one they’ve just started using. “Cover-up.” It’s a proven media attention-getter, and it’s more than just plausible. From a press release…

New Evidence Confirms Comptroller Hynes Ducked Burr Oak Responsibility,
Then Hid Evidence to Preserve His Political Career

CHICAGO – Instead of taking responsibility for his top aide’s failure to act or alert other authorities in 2003 when he was first warned of grave desecration at Burr Oak Cemetery, Comptroller Hynes is hiding behind bureaucratic excuses and trying desperately to shift blame and confuse voters.

“As Comptroller, Dan Hynes was given regulatory authority over private cemeteries in Illinois,” said Quinn for Illinois Communications Director Elizabeth Austin. “But more than that, as an elected official, he was given the trust of the people of Illinois.

“When Dan Hynes first learned of a serious problem at Burr Oak Cemetery, he could have spoken out on behalf of the generations buried there,” Austin said. “He could have passed new laws to protect consumers from badly run cemeteries. He could have contacted law enforcement officials to close down the cemetery. Instead, as Barack Obama said of Hynes in 2004, the Comptroller chose to sit silently on the sidelines – protecting his own political ambitions and doing nothing.”

Over the past months, as the scandal at Burr Oak Cemetery and the $100 million collapse of a statewide pre-need funeral trust fund have unfolded, Comptroller Hynes has repeatedly covered up, stonewalled, and “misspoken” to avoid taking responsibility for his office and his actions.

Last week, a signed official letter – date-stamped Feb. 16, 2004, from his own top aide – proved that the chief executive at Burr Oak Cemetery personally reported serious problems to the Comptroller’s office in 2003. Hynes displayed the heart of a bureaucrat and claimed it wasn’t his job, as an elected official, to take action on behalf of the people who put him in office.

In sworn testimony before the Cemetery Oversight Task Force on Sept. 10, 2009, Comptroller Hynes swore that his office first learned of serious improprieties at Burr Oak in 2005 – even though the top aide who learned of the problems in 2003, and who wrote the letter, was sitting right beside him.

Dan Hynes says he had no authority to clean up Burr Oak Cemetery. Patricia Brown Holmes, chair of the Cemetery Oversight Task Force, says that is not true. In fact, the Task Force found that Hynes had “comprehensive” authority over private cemeteries, as dozens of archived news releases from Hynes’ own office make clear. (Judge Holmes may be reached at 773-363-5718.)

This weekend, Comptroller Hynes was asked why his office concealed the Burr Oak letter when the Cemetery Oversight Task Force requested all documents related to grave robbing at the historic African-American Cemetery. Hynes made excuses by claiming that the Task Force did not specifically request that letter (which they did not know existed) and blamed bad record-keeping by bureaucrats under his direct supervision.

Last year, the State Journal-Register requested records showing what Comptroller Hynes’ office did to protect nearly 50,000 consumers who had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a fraudulent trust fund under his oversight. Hynes refused to release the documents, taking cover behind a smokescreen of bureaucratic paper-pushing and political self-protection.

“At the end of the day, the people of Illinois want a governor who will tell them what he can do, and who will fight for new laws and new rules that protect them from special interests, corruption, and state bureaucracy running amok,” Austin said. “When something goes wrong, we do not need leaders, at any level, who will waste time trying to point the finger of blame at someone else. We need leaders who will stand up, confront the problem, roll up their sleeves and get to work.

“Throughout his career, Pat Quinn has been a leader with the courage to speak out, stand up, and take action,” Austin said. “He has the character and the fortitude to lead Illinois, today and over the next four years.”

I’ll have more on this for subscribers tomorrow.

* Related…

* Dem. candidates for gov. campaign at black churches

* Democrats take governor race to church

* Quinn visits black churches in Chicago, urges people to vote

*** UPDATE *** From the Hynes campaign…

Quinn’s release of confidential internal corporate memo to smear opponent may jeopardize ongoing criminal investigation

CHICAGO – Two days before voters go to the polls, the Quinn campaign continues to politicize and exploit the tragedy at Burr Oak Cemetery, in so doing likely jeopardizing an ongoing criminal investigation. The Hynes campaign called on Quinn today to provide a full accounting of his campaign’s shameless use of an internal corporate memo, which very well may be impeding the investigation.

“Pat Quinn continues his desperate effort to misrepresent the facts and politicize the Burr Oak tragedy in the hope that he might gain some political advantage,” Hynes campaign communications director Matt McGrath said. “But now the real question is whether Quinn is impeding or putting at risk an ongoing criminal investigation by misrepresenting and misusing evidence in that investigation for political purposes. “

Last night the Quinn campaign acknowledged that they had been shopping around for reporters an internal corporate memo from the owners of Burr Oak, which quite significantly made clear they were actively deceiving the Comptroller’s office. Thus far Quinn has been unwilling to provide precise dates and a full explanation of when he acquired the memo and what he did with it. Neither the Comptroller’s office nor the Hynes campaign had possession of or awareness of that memo prior to it being provided by a reporter two days ago. But Quinn and his campaign acknowledged having the memo in their possession for many months.

“Quinn needs to provide a detailed explanation of when and under what circumstances he obtained the memo, and once he had it, what he did with it,” McGrath said. “Further, he should be called upon to explain why his misuse and misrepresentation in a political campaign does not jeopardize the ongoing criminal investigation regarding Burr Oak.”

Then this afternoon, Quinn launched another desperate attack on the topic, misrepresenting facts.

“Nothing demonstrates more clearly why Illinois voters should reject Pat Quinn than his campaign’s despicable ongoing politicization of the Burr Oak tragedy,” McGrath said. “Here we are, two days before a vital election, when the people of Illinois will have their first opportunity to choose a governor since Rod Blagojevich left the scene, and all Pat Quinn wants to do is throw around wild accusations about Burr Oak.”

In another mark of the politicization of the process, the Quinn campaign is encouraging reporters to talk with Patricia Brown Holmes, chair of the Cemetery Oversight Task Force. They fail to disclose that Ms. Holmes is a law partner of Tom Quinn, the Governor’s brother.

“It’s unfortunate that the weekend before the election, a woman who is a law partner of Pat Quinn’s brother would enter the desperate political fray and undermine the work of the task force she chaired by misrepresenting clear facts: that the Comptroller’s office has limited financial authority over cemeteries,” McGrath said.

“These are the desperate actions of a failing candidate with no ideas, no vision, and no greater goal than hanging on to his job,” McGrath said. “We are confident the people of Illinois will see it for what it is and reject Pat Quinn.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

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