A day after approving subpoenas for seven former aides to Gov. Pat Quinn in a probe of a troubled $55 million anti-violence program, Democrats today opted to drop two from the list.
Rep. Frank Mautino, the Democratic co-chair of the panel looking Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery, said he chose not to sign off on subpoenas seeking testimony of Warren Ribley, the former head of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Andrew Ross, Quinn’s former chief operating officer. Mautino said their involvement in the program is outside the scope of a blistering audit lawmakers are examining, one that found the anti-violence program was hastily implemented and had inadequate oversight.
Ribley and Ross were involved with a portion of the anti-violence program that distributed loans to small businesses. The audit primarily focused on grants given to neighborhood groups.
Mautino did approve subpoenas for Barbara Shaw, the former head of the NRI program, as well as Jack Lavin, Quinn’s former chief of staff; Toni Irving, former deputy chief of staff; Malcolm Weems, former head of the Department of Central Management Services; and Billy Ocasio, a former senior advisor.
* The Sun-Times has Rep. Mautino’s explanation…
Mautino said neither Ribley nor Ross factored heavily in the rollout of the $54.5 million program that is now under separate federal and Cook County investigations.
“In talking with the auditor general, he and his auditors unanimously determined they are outside the scope of the Violence Prevention Authority and Criminal Justice Information Authority,” Mautino told the Chicago Sun-Times, alluding to the two agencies that were involved in the implementation of the anti-violence program.
Ribley and Ross “are on two documents of the 55,000” gathered by Auditor General William Holland in connection with the NRI audit, Mautino said in justifying their elimination from the list of those to be subpoenaed.
The Cook County State’s Attorney had earlier subpoenaed DCEO’s files, but that subpoena was eventually withdrawn.
*** UPDATE *** Co-chairman Barickman’s response…
Sen. Jason Barickman: “It’s unfortunate that Democrats would obstruct our efforts to find out what happened,” Barickman said. “We worked diligently with the Democrats yesterday to find cooperation and it’s unfortunate that not even 24 hours later some are changing their tune.”