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Last minute shenanigans

Friday, Sep 21, 2012

* You knew this had to happen. The legislative scholarship program was killed by the General Assembly, but members were allowed to give out a final round of scholarships this summer. Some were questionable. Tribune

Among those giving multiyear waivers was state Rep. Scott Penny, D-Fairmont City. When Penny, a police chief in that small town outside St. Louis, was appointed by local Democratic leaders late last year to replace a departing lawmaker, he vowed not to run for an additional term and to focus only on serving his constituents.

“It’s a wonderful job, but I don’t know if it’s for me,” he told his local newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat. “The thought of me being up here (in Springfield) long-term, I don’t think is realistic or practical.”

But it didn’t take Penny long to dive into the well-worn Springfield practice of doling out legislative scholarships.

With the perk about to expire just months into his new job, Penny gave out two four-year scholarships to a pair of students. State records show that the parents of both students have ties to the St. Clair County Democratic Party.

One scholarship went to Danielle Fiudo of Fairmont City, where Penny has been police chief since the late 1980s until taking an unpaid leave to serve in the General Assembly. Fiudo’s father, Michael, is a village trustee in Fairmont City.

The other scholarship went to Taylor Lundy of Belleville. Records show she is the daughter of Michael Lundy, a Democratic precinct committeeman in Belleville Township and former Belleville city treasurer. He is now executive director of the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority.

Another Lundy daughter also received a four-year ride to Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, from powerful Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, starting in 2008.

* The Tribune also reported on scholarships given out over the past ten years

In the past decade, at least 75 legislators awarded scholarships to children of people who contributed to the lawmakers’ re-election committees or other political funds they controlled, according to the Tribune review. At least three students whose fathers were later charged with public corruption had their tuitions waived by Democratic lawmakers, records show.

During that same time period, lawmakers also awarded at least 317 scholarships to the relatives of state workers, whose positions range from toll collector to assistant attorney general, according to a comparison of scholarship recipients with the state payroll. Family members of at least eight judges — none of whom makes less than $140,000 annually — also received tuition waivers, according to the paper’s review.

That program had to go. It did some good over the decades, but it was just rife with abuse. Good riddance.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:14 am:

    Grabbing other peoples money to promote themselves, thats a politician. This “perk” may end, but it will be replaced with something else less obvious.

  2. - Sideliner - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:45 am:

    Has there been a similar abuse of the Children of Veterans Scholarship program? At any given time there may be over 400 four year tuition scholarships in play.

  3. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 8:57 am:

    Sideliner - I’m not sure if there’s a different one, but here are the guidelines for the University of Illinois Children of Veterans Tuition Waiver:

    - The child of a deceased veteran will be awarded the tuition waiver. If two or more candidates meet this criterion, the candidate with the highest ACT composite score will be the recipient.

    - If the veteran parents of all the candidates are living, the child of a disabled veteran will be awarded the tuition waiver. If two or more candidates meet this criterion, the candidate with the highest ACT composite score will be the recipient.

    - If the veteran parents of all the candidates are living and none are disabled, the tuition waiver will be awarded to the candidate with the highest ACT composite score.

    No room for politics with that.

  4. - Sideliner - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:07 am:

    Yes, that’s the program. I ask because, like so many things in Illinois, programs are abused regardless of criteria.

  5. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 9:16 am:

    Sideliner - Here’s the site that explains it:

    There aren’t any politicians involved, the university financial aid office reviews the applications and awards based on those requirements.

    The GA scholarships were up to the discretion of each member, totally different.

  6. - CircularFiringSquad - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 10:45 am:

    75 out of 1880 possible times the number of scholarships…..quiet the scandal Tribbies.
    BTW tell us a little more about how you ran to the USA when you taxbreak scam with Blagoof got a out of whack…oh that’s right you were just caught on tape like the other mopes.

  7. - redrum - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 11:49 am:

    This story typifies what’s wrong with the media in America. They are more interested in playing “gotcha” than covering “hard” news.

  8. - Loop Lady - Friday, Sep 21, 12 @ 12:38 pm:

    I hope that this issue amongst many others has incumbents fighting for their “careers” and losing the battle. Good riddance for sure.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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