* Mark Brown writes, correctly, that state grants are the “soft underbelly of Illinois government”…
This is where the bodies are buried — along with the money to pay them. This is where government waste goes to hide.
Everybody knows it, but nobody seems to be able to do much about it — until the dirt comes out in the wash. […]
Last week, federal prosecutors in Springfield won a conviction against Jeri Wright, the daughter of President Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who played a small role in a $1.25 million grant fraud scheme involving Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans and her husband, a Chicago police officer. Evans and her husband had already pleaded guilty to spending most of the money on themselves. […]
All told, the Sun-Times Chris Fusco reported last year, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Springfield has charged 13 people in recent years in connection with grant fraud schemes involving at least $16 million. […]
What are the common denominators in these cases?
Usually a lack of oversight from the state agency dispensing the money, and often some connection to Illinois politics. […]
Funny thing about state grants: the money is almost always earmarked on the surface for some valid altruistic purpose — AIDS prevention, saving a neighborhood cultural anchor, steering young men away from illegal activities that breed violence.
But time after time, we find that the grants that go bad were paid to political allies in recognition of past or future support.
The General Assembly has to get some control over this mess. The governor and legislators cannot continue to hand out these grants without any proof that the agencies are doing any good. There are some very good groups that do very good work, but there’s just way too much local politics involved with the granting process.
How many people have to go to prison before this is reformed?