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But for a bounced check…

Monday, Jun 9, 2014

* The Quinnsters have repeatedly said that “not one penny” was spent before the election on the governor’s anti-violence initiative. True. But only because they essentially bounced a check

Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration has long said its troubled, $54 million anti-violence program didn’t spend a dime before the governor’s 2010 general election, despite opponents contending it was a rush-job, “political slush fund,” the governor used to drive critical voters to the polls.

New emails obtained by the Sun-Times, however, indicate the administration had attempted to move large amounts of tax dollars into the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative three weeks before the Nov. 2 election, a critical period when Quinn was in a tough contest against Republican challenger Bill Brady. Quinn eventually prevailed, winning by about 31,000 votes.

Attempts to move the money onto the streets early on failed, however, when there were “insufficient funds” ready to pay for the new initiative. […]

Records show the Illinois comptroller’s office issued a voucher, saying the money would be used for “Gov Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.” However, the attempts backfired, when there were “insufficient funds” to pay the request made by the then-head of the anti-violence program.

Oops.

* Meanwhile

Bruce Rauner has been citing Gov. Pat Quinn’s troubled $54.5 million anti-violence initiative as an example of “corruption and patronage” in Quinn’s administration — even though a church led by a Rauner ally got some of the state anti-violence cash.

Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor, for years served with the Rev. Marshall Hatch on a charter-school board and has talked about his relationship with Hatch and other African-American leaders on the campaign trail.

A onetime failed 29th Ward aldermanic candidate, Hatch, 56, is senior pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, 4301 W. Washington, which was awarded $192,000 in grant money through Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative — the anti-violence program Rauner has blasted.

At his church, Hatch works with Benton Cook III, who has been a minister there for eight years. Cook, the husband of Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, has become a lightning rod for criticism of the Quinn program because he was paid $146,401 in salary and benefits over 22 months to work for it despite having a felony conviction for writing bad checks.

There are two morals to this story…

    1) The Sun-Times can creatively tie pretty much anyone to Dorothy Brown.

    2) When you play in Chicago politics, as Rauner is doing, there are consequences, no matter how tenuous the ties.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


23 Comments
  1. - shore - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    It doesn’t sound like Rauner tried to play in chicago politics it sounds like he tried to buy the game and paid the players.


  2. - Just Observing - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    I don’t really think the Rauner “connection” is anything of real merit or anything that will stick.


  3. - Charlatan Heston - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    @ Rich- “Sun-Times can tie….anyone to Dorothy Brown” Hysterical! And so true


  4. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    Wow - so that Quinn grant regarding the anti-violence initiative is actually everyone’s fault because we all know someone who knew someone who was involved - right?

    For instance, I know someone who was ready to retire from the Chicago police department who got tired of all the phone calls to get approval for the grant money - saw that the whole thing was going to be an incredible scam - and retired and left the state early to avoid being dragged into it when it collapsed.

    So it isn’t Quinn’s fault - it is mine, because I know someone who knew someone who got some of the initiative money.

    Isn’t that where this is going? It isn’t our governor’s fault - it is everyone who voted for a Democratic governor since 2002’s fault. If Quinn wasn’t elected Lt. Governor, then he wouldn’t have become governor in order to make the grants.

    So it is everyone’s fault.

    Rauner obviously needs to got to jail because of this tie, because you can’t be an Illinois governor and not go to jail, right?

    Thanks Sun-Times for that bit of faux illumination.


  5. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    We it turns out we are not corrupt as some people may think because we were incompetent. Well for Illinois I guess that is something…


  6. - Shark Sandwich - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    Whom/what was the voucher to be paid TO, CST? Were they trying to load the fund to make payments from, or was this a $19M payment to one grantee?

    Setting up the account for the payments to draw from is a far cry from checks going out, ‘paying’ people before the election.


  7. - Anon. - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    ==The Sun-Times can creatively tie pretty much anyone to Dorothy Brown.==

    Rather than a caption contest, how about a 6 degrees of separation game for Illinois, US and foreign political figures? Employees of the Sun-Times and their families would be barred from the game, of course.


  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:36 pm:

    Vman -

    There is a BIT more to it from that. From the S-T:

    Cook said Hatch introduced him in 2010 to officials with Chicago Area Project, one of 23 not-for-profit “lead agencies” overseeing it. That led to Cook getting his job helping supervise how $2.1 million in NRI money allotted in West Garfield Park — the West Side neighborhood that includes Hatch’s church — was spent.

    BTW, Rauner’s team could use a little less lawyerliness:

    “Bruce’s relationship with Rev. Hatch stems from their work to improve education in underserved neighborhoods,” Schrimpf says. “He’s not in position to knowledgeably comment on matters concerning the church.”

    ‘not in a position to knowledgeably comment’?

    On the other hand, you have Hatch saying this on Fox News:

    “It is hard for Quinn to make the case that he is The Jobs Governor when Illinois is second to last in jobs.”

    There, I fear, is the Rauner Message:

    Quinn raised taxes, ergo We are one of the worst in the nation in jobs, and now he is doubling down on taxes.


  9. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    That said, as I have pointed out from the get-go, if in fact Quinn had spent $54 million on GOTV in 7 wards in 2010, the results would have been clearly apparent.

    To my knowledge, no one has produced any meaningful analysis showing a huge leap in voter turnout or vote percentage for Quinn.


  10. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    And Rich is right, The Bounced Check Defense has to be about the worst.


  11. - Jake From Elwood - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:48 pm:

    Six degrees of separation to Dorothy Brown.
    Sounds like a decent drinking game.


  12. - A guy... - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    “…in further developments, it was discovered Keith Mattune was the treasurer” Obvious snark, but the bounced checks gotta lead somewhere to put a bow on this whole story.


  13. - tikkunolam - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    ==if in fact Quinn had spent $54 million on GOTV in 7 wards in 2010, the results would have been clearly apparent==

    Would’ve been like a Bud Billiken parade in each ward for that much money. The news would have covered it from helicopters like the post-Stanley Cup riots.


  14. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 2:16 pm:

    Where is it written that Quinn can only be guilty if all $54mil was used for corrupt purposes? If you want to sneak dirty money through the system, lumping it in with otherwise clean money would be a good way to hide it.


  15. - Anon. - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    ==To my knowledge, no one has produced any meaningful analysis showing a huge leap in voter turnout or vote percentage for Quinn.==

    Huge leap compared to what? Quinn’s last gubernatorial vote count?

    ==Where is it written that Quinn can only be guilty if all $54mil was used for corrupt purposes?==

    . . . or that the corrupt spending was competently done?


  16. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    ===Huge leap compared to what? ===

    There’s this thing called “history.”


  17. - Formerly Know As... - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    The intent behind this initiative appears to be clear. At this point, we are simply debating the delivery date of the $.

    If you are explaining, you are losing. There is more explaining to come on this and that spells bad news for PQ.


  18. - Apacolypse Now - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 3:06 pm:

    Quinn needs a new “spin Doctor. Calling Oswego Willy.


  19. - Anon. - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 3:08 pm:

    ==There’s this thing called “history.”==

    I’m sure there was a huge leap between voter turnout in Chicago in 2010 compared to, say, 1850, which proves nothing in this matter. I was just asking “compared to what”? If no one is enthusiastic about Pat Quinn, a slightly-below-average turnout for him in 2010 could be evidence of a successful GOTV campaign (which does not necessarily mean it was corrupt, either).


  20. - Lester Holt's Mustache - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 3:35 pm:

    Have to agree with YDD. I can’t imagine there was anyone in those wards thinking to themselves, “I was going to vote for Bill Brady, but this Neighborhood Recovery Initiative really has swung my vote to the Democratic Nominee instead.” Those areas don’t seem like hotbeds of independent voters. Waste of taxpayer money, Yes - but I’m not buying this idea that this whole thing swung the election to Quinn.


  21. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 3:38 pm:

    @FKA:

    “Good government begins with listening.”

    “Good government is good politics.”

    There is no question that the intent of the program was to aid Quinn’s re-election.

    News flash: nearly everything every elected official does is intended to get them re-elected.

    It is called popular democracy.

    Vote-buying, which seems to be what Quinn is being accused of, is totally different.

    This is a lot more like enacting a major capital bill, to put cash in the pockets of tens of thousands of blue collar workers, which Rauner just endorsed.

    Now, the Tribune doesn’t like some of the projects on that list, including the Uptown Theatre renovation. Does that make Rauner’s support for capital bill criminal, unethical or even newsworthy? No.


  22. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    == showing a huge leap in voter turnout or vote percentage for Quinn ==

    That is one possible view. Another possible view is that Quinn saw his weakness in polling and in certain areas well before election day, which is part of what prompted this effort.

    What would his performance have been like without establishing this “outreach” shortly before the election? Would he have performed even worse without the NRI? 200 votes worse? A few hundred? A few thousand?

    We cannot know for certain, any more than we can point to Quinn’s performance in certain wards as “evidence” one way or another. There are too many variables.

    This does not make him guilty or innocent of anything. It just means he underperformed in certain areas and still won a close election.


  23. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 7:26 pm:

    ==I’m sure there was a huge leap between voter turnout in Chicago in 2010 compared to, say, 1850,==

    Are you that dense?


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