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Sen. Kirk, GOP congressmen get into the act

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014

* From a press release…

U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today sent a letter to Calvin L. Scovel III, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, asking for an immediate investigation to determine the extent to which federal funds were used to subsidize or justify the potentially illegal hiring of dozens of patronage workers at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

In the letter, the group states, “We write with extreme concern that federal funds were directly or indirectly involved in a scheme to subvert state hiring practices as mandated by the Court. Federal funds should never be provided to states to subsidize or justify political patronage. If the State of Illinois misused federally appropriated funds in this way, the American people deserve to know.”

Additionally, as Congress looks for ways to use taxpayer money more efficiently to address problems such as the highway trust fund and other infrastructure funding, the group asked Inspector General Scovel to make recommendations to ensure such misuse of federal funds can never happen again.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

Calvin L. Scovel III, Inspector General
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave SE, West Blding7th Floor
Washington, DC 20590

Mr. Scovel:

Last week, a motion was filed in U.S. District Court against Illinois Governor Pat Quinn alleging illegal hiring practices at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), including the appointment of dozens of patronage workers to non-policy making positions in violation of a 1989 Supreme Court decision (Rutan).

According to the Associated Press, Governor Quinn “told reporters Monday that there were federal stimulus dollars that had to be spent quickly and efficiently, along with a massive capital bill” and said “the increase in jobs free from hiring rules at the Illinois Department of Transportation were ‘absolutely’ necessary.”

Additionally, according to the Associated Press, in a court proceeding on April 29, Governor Quinn’s office acknowledged “an ongoing investigation by Illinois’ inspector general of hiring practices”.

We write with extreme concern that federal funds were directly or indirectly involved in a scheme to subvert state hiring practices as mandated by the Court. Federal funds should never be provided to states to subsidize or justify political patronage. If the State of Illinois misused federally appropriated funds in this way, the American people deserve to know.

Therefore, we request that you launch an immediate investigation to determine the extent to which federal funds were used to subsidize or justify the potentially illegal hiring of dozens of patronage workers at IDOT and, further, to make recommendations to ensure such misuse of federal funds can never happen again.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


31 Comments
  1. - Generation X - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:45 pm:

    Long way to November but the hill is getting very steep for Quinn. This and the Alvarez investigation are going to dog him the entire way and will allow Rauner to skate without specifics


  2. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:45 pm:

    Governor. Bruce. Rauner.
    Lord help us all!


  3. - Norseman - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    Yada, Yada, Yada.


  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    What is sometimes lost in this discussion is that making a position Rutan-exempt doesn’t mean you HAVE to fill it based on political considerations, just that you can. The real benefit - if you’re trying to fill jobs quickly - is that you don’t have to go through all the other rigmorale involved with Rutan-covered positions, which can extend the hiring process incredibly.


  5. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    Quinn opened the door. Now the first of the floodwaters start trickling through.

    Should have kept the door shut by maintaining a closer eye on things in his own house.


  6. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    Is it possible to be sick of campaign commercials that have not even run yet?


  7. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    “Quickly Mr. Speaker - to the Escape Pod!”
    “This candidacy is gonna blow!”


  8. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:01 pm:

    Uh, is there a chance we go 3 for 3 with this as far as prison for our leaders? It’s just a letter, but if the Feds take interest, IF we all know they don’t fight battles like this they can’t usually win. Although, I do not believe he is competent. I just want to hear this can’t end up in prison time if federal money is proved to have been used improperly. I think we all may have to move…


  9. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:02 pm:

    Vanilla Man… How quick does his own party distance themselves?


  10. - Huh? - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:10 pm:

    It is more than just federal dollars being used for political hires. 45.6% of the motor fuel taxes that we pay at the pump are used by IDOT. The IL MFT taxes are 19 cents/gallon on gasoline plus 21.5 cents/gallon on diesel fuel.


  11. - Jorge - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:11 pm:

    Patronage is a part of the game. Like it or not this won’t amount to much aside from some bad commercials and a debate question.


  12. - DuPage - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    @Huh?3:10 =46.5% of the motor fuel taxes that we pay at the pump are used by IDOT.=

    Where are the rest of the motor fuel taxes going?


  13. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    == Patronage is a part of the game. ==

    We’re 2-for-2 on recently convicted governors, so anything is possible these days. Push the rules of the game too far, and sooner or later the referee steps in.

    It seems we are about to find out just how closely Quinn has been skirting that line on a number of fronts.


  14. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:41 pm:

    @DuPage:

    It funds various things. I can think of three agencies off the top of my head that get money from those funds: IDOT, IEPA and OSFM.


  15. - Mason born - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:47 pm:

    Jorge

    Patronage may be part of the game however it is a disgusting part of the game that most would like to see minimized or eliminated.

    Add this to the the Alvarez investigation throw n some funs to push the narative and you have a shot at Quinns only real strength. A good portion of the state views Quinn as an incompetant buffoon but one who means well. Between using patronage for his political BFFs and the 54 mil vote buy suddenly he doesn’t look so well meaning. Don’t forget BR has the cash to push that narative incesantly.


  16. - Eileen left - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:59 pm:

    Strictly politics much ado about nothing


  17. - Walker - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 4:09 pm:

    Pure political trash, and piling on.

    This has a lot to do with patronage hiring issues, and technical exempt status for labor organization versus management issues — but virtually nothing to do with misuse of Federal funds.


  18. - Jimbo - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 4:13 pm:

    Everyone needs to settle down. No one is going to jail. Patronage isn’t illegal. If patronage hires got rutan covered positions, then yeah, that could be a problem, but improperly classifying positions isn’t a crime. All one has to do is plead incompetence. No one would doubt such a claim.


  19. - Jorge - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 4:15 pm:

    Mason et al.,patronage didn’t bring down Blago or Ryan. There’s plenty more to attack Quinn with other than patronage. The list is a mile long and Rauner is going to attack it all. Patronage is not going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. I guess I’m the only one that remembers the tales that lead to Rutan. This ain’t nothing compared to the old days.


  20. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 4:16 pm:

    Eileen, in politics and general elections, there’s no such thing as “much ado about nothing”

    By November, Quinn will hammered with this and be crowned as Patronage King of Illinois


  21. - Mason born - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 4:52 pm:

    Jorge

    I think you miss my point no it isn’t illegal and it’s been done worse. However no one likes the idea of patronage, at best it should be reserved for very specific positions like legislative liasons etc. While this is far far from a silver bullet it builds on the Narrative that Quinn is a corrupt political hack. Quinns biggest selling point is his hey i’m a good guy trying to do the best i can schtick the narrative this builds sinks that boat.


  22. - D.P.Gumby - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 5:24 pm:

    Can’t see Quinn in the same league as Ryan and Blago…but that won’t stop Brucie from trying.


  23. - Not Five Thirty Eight - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 5:51 pm:

    “and, further, to make recommendations to ensure such misuse of federal funds can never happen again.”

    ….What misuse?

    I wonder how many of these same politicos have campaign staff that magically become Congressional staff - and vice versa - every other year.


  24. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 6:06 pm:

    ==This and the Alvarez investigation are going to dog him the entire way and will allow Rauner to skate without specifics===

    This will “dog him” only if the USDOT IG decides to investigate.

    Of course, I’m sure tinfoilers will be supporting the conspiracy theory that all these GOPers are just trying to play electoral politics gotcha with Quinn, just like they were supporting that tinfoil notion in the Durbin thread re: a call for an IRS investigation. Why else would these good GOPers be siccing the federals after PQ? It couldn’t be because their honest elected officials.


  25. - Patronizing poster - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 6:08 pm:

    C’mon folks, if this was the NFL draft, Kirk & co. just picked Shea McClellan. Calling this move “a reach” does a disservice to the phrase.

    And this being a campaign issue? Seriously now. It’s not like his Illinoisans are like the police chief in Casablanca (I’m shocked, SHOCKED that there’s patronage going on in state government!)


  26. - The Dude Abides - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 6:13 pm:

    Feigned outrage by Congressional Republicans that just happens to be taking place during a gubernatorial election year. Using road fund money for other purposes has been going on at IDOT for a long time, and occurred during the Thompson, Edgar and Ryan administrations. Election year politics pure and simple.
    That being said it could hurt Quinn some. Politicians don’t mind fudging the facts to cause harm to their opponents.


  27. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 6:43 pm:

    “I think you miss my point no it isn’t illegal and it’s been done worse.”

    I got your point but this is far from the worst thing Quinn has done. Thinking a fairly routine political maneuver of hiring cronies in this state will discredit him is wishful thinking at best.


  28. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 8:51 pm:

    How quickly will the Democrats back away from Quinn?

    Nonsense!

    Michael J. Madigan was Rod Blagojevich’s election co-chair as his daughter refused to even endorse Blagojevich. If this gets worse for Quinn, I’m sure Michael J. Madigan would feel that Pat Quinn was finally worthy of the old Michael J. Madigan co-chair as well!

    Back away? We’re talking the Illinois Democratic Party here! They’ve shown an ability to hold their noses and breath for over five years as their governor crashes and burns, shows up on television as a laughingstock, and embarrasses everyone. Hey - they’ve even had a Lt. Governor defending Blagojevich almost right up to the day he was arrested.

    Power is too important to these people. They would do an whole “Weekend With Bernie” if Bernie was their governor.


  29. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 9:50 pm:

    I don’t think this is an issue that voters really care about. Move along…nothing to see here.


  30. - Oneman - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:21 pm:

    The other thing is, as I suspect most of know, it can be some of the most stupid stuff that manages to get voter attention…


  31. - Mister M - Thursday, May 1, 14 @ 1:00 pm:

    Anonymous - ” is that you don’t have to go through all the other rigmorale involved with Rutan-covered positions” and Jorge “patronage is just part of the game”

    People. Really? Let’s just be satisfied then with the most corrupt state in the nation. When the political hacks get control of the levers of an agency such as IDOT, they can do massive damage to the professional activities that carry a responsibility for public safety and massive taxpayer dollars. It’s not a matter to be just blown off as inevitable Illinois practice. remember, Quinn was going to “fumigate” state government and then he followed through on none of the recommendation of his own Reform Commission.


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