* From a press release, with emphasis added. Read it all…
Illinois House and Senate Republicans are urging the Illinois Auditor General to refer findings from the Feb. 2014 audit of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) to the Executive Inspector General (EIG) for further review and potentially the U.S. Attorney for further investigation of potential criminal activity.
The lawmakers further called for freezing of any unexpended dollars – which could be as much as $31 million.
“Every component of this audit is barraged with questions of ethical integrity,” said State Rep. David Reis (R-Ste. Marie). “From the very beginning, many of us had grave reservations about the formation and implementation of this program. This audit supports these concerns. This is nothing more than Governor Quinn using taxpayer dollars to fund precinct walkers in Chicago.”
Sen. Barickman (R-Bloomington), Co-Chair of the Legislative Audit Commission, called the program “nothing more than a political slush fund for Governor Quinn.”
Sen. Murphy (R-Palatine) said, “There was no documentation, no monitoring, no attempt to recover funds. We need to get this information to the appropriate law enforcement authorities and freeze the spending. It’s a shameful waste of taxpayers’ dollars to bail out a failed politician.”
“When critical care services remain on the chopping block and transportation funding for rural schools have been cut, the Governor was able to increase limited state resources for the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative from $20 million to $50 million in less than two months,” said State Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon).
Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) said, “I’ve spent 32 years in law enforcement and the information I’m looking at is the kind of information indictments are made of. This warrants in my estimation a criminal investigation.”
The Auditor General stated the $54.55 million NRI program was “hastily implemented” with “pervasive deficiencies in Illinois Violence Prevention Authority’s (IVPA) planning, implementation, and management.”
The Audits also found Governor Quinn broke state law when he shuffled funds among various accounts in order to circumvent the legislature’s authority to annually appropriate General Fund dollars. In effect, the Governor was able to create a non-appropriated slush fund of $91 million that he could use in future fiscal years without having to request that the General Assembly re-appropriate those dollars. Approximately $45 million was eventually given to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. (IVPA Compliance Audit, for two years ended June 30, 2012; pages 10-14; Released 2/25/14. Finding 12-1.)
The Auditor General’s performance audit included the following key findings.
· A troublesome timeline – beginning with Governor Quinn’s appearance in a Chicago neighborhood in August, 2010. In less than two week, $30 million was allocated to the program – before the IVPA staff was ever notified. In September, 2010 the “Governor’s office” tells the IVPA Board of the commitment to release some funds immediately and the “rest after the election.” By October 6, the program increased from $20 million to $50 million. (page 10) Subsequent funding brings NRI’s totals to nearly $100 million in taxpayer funds.
· Auditors questioned 40 percent of spending in the NRI program.
· IVPA turned over decision-making to Chicago aldermen for organizations to serve as lead agencies for the NRI program.
· While billed as a violence prevention program, the city of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods were not included. (page 73)
· Quarterly reports were submitted late and were inaccurate.
· IVPA failed to adequately monitor spending of State NRI funds by providers. (page 92) and failed to exercise due diligence in selecting the agencies.
· Lead agencies struggled for direction and management (page 29-31)
· Lead agencies expended $46.2 million for NRI – over $37 million was for day-to-day activities.
· They failed to properly ensure unspent taxpayers funds were returned to the state.
· NRI failed to meet its goals and failed to measure outcomes.
The 2012 resolution (HR 1110) originally called upon the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit of State moneys provided through the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative in Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012. The resolution was adopted in the House 100-16-1. Similar resolutions were blocked in the Illinois Senate.
For Years 1 and 2 of the NRI the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority received $54.55 million which $44.55 million came from the Governor’s Discretionary appropriations in FY11 and the remain $10 million were appropriated from General Revenue Funds in FY12.
Let’s be clear here. This is no murky, hard to comprehend, constantly changing, hyperpartisan “Benghazi!” pseudo-scandal. We’ve got a blistering Auditor General report and some possibly serious wrongdoing.
Background and the audit are here. My “favorite” part…
According to the former IVPA Director, IVPA selected the communities to be served by NRI based on an analysis performed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) for the Safety Net Works program. However, IVPA and DHS could not locate the analysis used nor could IVPA provide any other documentation to auditors showing how Chicago communities were selected to participate in NRI.
Additionally, the communities selected for NRI were not all the most violent in terms of crime in the Chicago area. Our comparison of NRI communities to the violent crime totals published by the Chicago Police found 7 Chicago neighborhoods that were among the 20 most violent neighborhoods that did not receive NRI funding. In Year 3 of NRI, another Chicago community, Hermosa, was added to the NRI program. This community ranked 48th in violent crime from 2005-2010.
* Coverage roundup…
* Audit raises 2010 election concern for Brady: State Sen. Bill Brady said Tuesday he’s unsure whether a now-discredited $55 million anti-violence plan launched by Gov. Pat Quinn might have altered the outcome of his 2010 bid for governor. The Republican from Bloomington said he believes federal prosecutors should investigate the taxpayer-financed program in light of questions raised in a blistering audit released Tuesday.
* State auditor slams Gov. Pat Quinn’s $54.5 million anti-violence program: “Clearly, the governor implemented a plan 30 days before the election that was a $50 million slush fund. It smacks of promises made in areas that he needed good turnout to win,” Brady told the Chicago Sun-Times.
* Audit: Anti-Violence Program Rife With Problems: But the now-defunct Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, which created the project, couldn’t produce the criteria it used to choose the communities and failed to include seven neighborhoods that Chicago police consider to be the most crime-ridden, the audit found. And it relied on Chicago aldermen — not an open bidding process — to find community organizations to run the programs.
* State audit criticizes Quinn anti-violence program: “The timing of those expenditures cause great concern for those of us who know that those funds were spent just prior to a major election for which the governor was on the ballot,” said Barickman, a Bloomington lawmaker.
* Rauner campaign takes shot at Quinn for ‘bungling’ anti-violence program: Republicans at the Statehouse called for a criminal investigation and even floated the word “impeachment” following Holland’s assessment that Quinn’s administration failed to monitor how those funds were spent, gave Chicago aldermen power to dictate which groups got funding and allowed some of the city’s most violence-prone neighborhoods to miss out entirely.