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*** UPDATED x1 *** Just 90 days?

Thursday, Jul 10, 2014

* This was sent out late yesterday by GOP state Sen. Jason Barickman, Legislative Audit Commission Co-Chairman…

Today, the Legislative Affairs office of the Department of Justice – two staff attorneys and an intern in Washington D.C. – requested that no interviews of those connected to Governor Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative program be conducted for 90 days.

We do not want to impede their efforts or compromise the integrity of their criminal investigation.

Therefore, I believe it is appropriate for the Legislative Audit Commission to consider the request and its scope.

Why just 90 days? Federal investigations usually drag on for a very long time. And why the Legislative Affairs Office?

Then again, this is Springfield’s US Attorney’s Office, not the one in Chicago we’re used to hearing from, so they may just do things differently.

* Barickman updated this morning on WLS Radio

“We cannot simply, at our own whim, drop this. We’ve taken legislative action to get to this point, we’ve got a hearing scheduled, we’ve subpoenaed seven witnesses, they’ve lawyered up, they’ve told us they’re going to attend,” Barickman said.

Barickman says he and other members of the commission will vote on the delay request next week.

“We’ll consider why they want us to stand down and what they’ve presented,” Barickman told Bruce and Dan. “And we’ll try to balance that with our own duties, you know we have legislative duties to the people of this state and to our constituents. I think we need to balance those two things in a public hearing, talk about it, and make a decision”.

* Another Republican member of the Legislative Audit Commission, Sen. Bill Brady, said he didn’t think the Commission’s investigation would step on any federal toes

“I frankly don’t see where our role conflicts with theirs,” Brady said.

Whatever the case, when the feds ask you to step aside, you step aside.

After all, in 90 days, we’ll be in mid-October - right before election day.

…Adding… From a press release…

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and State Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers’ Grove) will be holding a press conference Thursday, July 10, 2014 at the James R. Thompson Center Blue Room at 2: 30 p.m.

The topic of the press conference is to discuss the latest development with the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) and the Legislative Audit Commission.

*** UPDATE *** It looks like Sen. Barickman is attempting to make the Democrats pull the plug. An updated statement…

Following a scathing audit issued by the Illinois Auditor General on Governor Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the Legislative Audit Commission began its legally required public review of that audit and its findings.

We have had a healthy and spirited debate on the Commission. Ultimately, common sense prevailed and – with bipartisan agreement – the Audit Commission has scheduled a two-day public hearing with seven subpoenaed witnesses next week.

The Legislative Affairs office of the Department of Justice – two staff attorneys and an intern from Washington D.C. – has now requested no interviews of those connected to Governor Quinn’s failed Neighborhood Recovery Initiative program for 90 days.

I believe it is appropriate for the Audit Commission to consider that request at our July 16 meeting. We certainly do not want to impede their criminal investigation of the NRI program. However, we also have legislative duties and obligations that we must fulfill to the people of Illinois and our constituents.

Each member of the Audit Commission – myself included – will have to weigh those competing interests to determine whether we change course on a public review of how more than $55 million in taxpayers’ money was spent.

However, to be clear, the Audit Commission has already taken legal action. Seven witnesses have been subpoenaed and are compelled by law to attend next week’s hearings. We’ve taken legislative action.

This legislative action cannot – and should not – be undone with the sweep of a hand or a backdoor meeting. Only legislative action can rescind those efforts.

Unless Legislative Audit Commission takes new legislative action to change course, then I presume the Audit Commission will proceed with the plan laid out through its bipartisan, transparent process.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


35 Comments
  1. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 9:36 am:

    Under the circumstances, I think the Feds are more likely to have their request followed if they only ask for 90 days rather than a time period that goes past election day. You’re not going to get full, complete and open testimony from anybody with the Feds lurking anyway.


  2. - Toure's Latte - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 9:44 am:

    That last part is fascinating. Word is Sandack, something of a lightening rod, has an opponent in the general, and needs to mend fences with local Republicans. Coat-tailing this issue would help.


  3. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 9:47 am:

    Here’s the purpose of the DOJ legislative office as stated on their web site:

    “The Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) has responsibility for the development and implementation of strategies to advance the Department’s legislative initiatives and other interests relating to Congress.”

    Please note that this is NOT an investigative or prosecutorial branch of the DOJ. This is the “political” arm of the DOJ. It also is unclear why this office is contacting a STATE legislature, when its purpose is quite clearly stated to be relating to promoting DOJ political initiatives to the US Congress.

    Something doesn’t smell right here. This shouldn’t have anything to do with a criminal investigiation. I believe that would be handled by the US Attorney in the district.

    Based upon the channels through which this request was made, I think proceeding with the hearings is the only appropriate action for the Illinois GA.


  4. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    So wondering if someone in the Springfield DOJ office doesn’t like Quinn…

    or

    Are they a lot further along on this than people think.


  5. - dunno - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    If you had any notion that the members of the commission were doing their jobs and this wasn’t political, that is blown out of the water now. The feds ask them to stand down and instead they public comment on the conversation and say we’ll take it under advisement? That’s crazy talk. Notice we haven’t heard a peep from the democrats.


  6. - Cassiopeia - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 9:52 am:

    This is so not looking good for Quinn and company.


  7. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 9:53 am:

    –And why the Legislative Affairs Office?–

    My uninformed speculation:

    It’s within the realm of possibility that someone with a relationship to the General Assembly could be called to testify before the grand jury as they gather information.

    Perhaps, then, it was viewed as more appropriate to have a third-party make the request to defer, rather than the district office running the grand jury.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:00 am:

    Quinn is going to be saddled two ways on the 90 day window;

    Speculation of what is going on in the investigation.

    The anticipation of October and possibly finding out what was found just weeks, or even days before the election.

    Bad news, bad timing.


  9. - walker - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    Sen. Brady doesn’t see where their committee role conflicts with what the Feds might be doing? Doesn’t the committee’s role include discovering and investigating potential wrongdoing? The witnesses, even if faultless, appreciate the difficulties of dealing with two different bodies on the same quest. With missteps causing all kinds of potential problems for them.

    The Fed attorneys would have a better take on it.


  10. - DuPage - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    Political grandstanding. I guess we should be used to it by now.


  11. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    –After all, in 90 days, we’ll be in mid-October - right before election day.–

    Good point.

    From a strictly political point, the request is a gift for Republicans.

    It’s summer. No one is going to pay attention to GA hearings now.

    Come back in mid-October, after Rauner has been pounding Quinn for weeks on TV, you’ll get some attention.

    It’s all bad news for Quinn.


  12. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    === two staff attorneys and an intern in Washington D.C. ===

    Amusingly detailed, but it tells me that the request was made in some conference call. A call from the legislative affairs office to a state legislative entity doesn’t surprise me. That’s there job. Take off the tin foil hats if you want to assert some political conspiracy.

    The 90 days is unusual and may have been some offhand comment during the conversation. A point the actual investigators may not like.

    From the GOP standpoint, they want to push to keep this in the news for obvious political reasons while maintaining an appearance of working with the Feds.


  13. - orzo - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    By all accounts, the U.S.Attorney’s office in Springfield is highly professional and would not want to appear to be involved in the political process. The Audit Hearings are (despite what the participants try to say) HIGHLY partisan and political, so the Justice Department may have decided to make the contact out of Washington.


  14. - Tom Joad - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:39 am:

    “I frankly don’t see where our role conflicts with theirs,” Brady said. Bill Brady is the last person to go to for an opinion on what is or isn’t a conflict of interest.


  15. - Eastsider - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    So we can never conduct parallel investigations? Really. Forgive me but doesn’t Congress do this all the time (ie, conduct it’s own investigation while Justice is also looking into something)?


  16. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    I believe that the GOP is just doing their job here. They need to demonstrate that they are concerned what happened to all of our money.

    If they didn’t do it, they would be ignoring the importance of legislative oversight on this possibly criminal case.


  17. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    –So we can never conduct parallel investigations?–

    They can if they want to. It’s a request, not an order.


  18. - walker - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    Don’t know about the Feds, but in Illinois, the staff, including attorneys, in government departments are not allowed to talk to legislators directly without a “legislative liaison” person witnessing the call or meeting. Often they just watch. In this case it was an intern.

    It was passed as an anti-corruption regulation, to try to avoid hidden side deals for whatever. I found it incredibly burdensome when trying to propose operating improvements, or getting needed information for drafting bills directly from those who knew what’s up in the departments. For a state with an earned corruption image, we’re buried in bureaucratic restraints trying to prevent it.


  19. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    –They need to demonstrate that they are concerned what happened to all of our money.–

    You could read the audit if you wanted to know that. There is some unaccounted money, but it’s known who got the great majority. The questions are why they got it and what they were were expected to and did deliver for it. And it doesn’t look pretty.


  20. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    My uninformed speculation? If the Illinois Attorney General was investigating this matter, the US Attorney would contact the AG directly and ask for the deferral. Since this is the Illinois General Assembly conducting the investigation, the US Attorney asked its internal legislative relations office to make the request.

    Not much of a conspiracy, just a matter of style or protocol.

    Why the ILGOPs would object is the really weird part of this story. Carry on and it’s just a partisan witch hunt. Stand down and it’s another federal investigation into a Democratic administration.


  21. - Birdseed - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    == Carry on and it’s just a partisan witch hunt. Stand down and it’s another federal investigation into a Democratic administration. ==

    Exactly. They are being handed a gift and have no clue what to do with it.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 11:44 am:

    ===Why the ILGOPs would object is the really weird part of this story. Carry on and it’s just a partisan witch hunt. Stand down and it’s another federal investigation into a Democratic administration.===

    I always appreciate when the - 47th Ward -, - YDD -, and - Soccermom - try to help My Party, no snark.

    It is as though holding your powder is not a good enough strategy, or letting the heavy lifting narrative be driven by the media is just not impactful.

    I wonder where are the Staff strong enough to say to these Dopes, “just stop, and let it implode in front of us, then take it out !”

    Thanks for trying…


  23. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    ===Sorry if that sounds cynical, but you have to admit there does seem to be precedent for this approach.===

    Why don’t you enlighten us with a couple of precedents?


  24. - Chaos - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    Eastsider, the Legislative Audit Commission is not an investigative body. They don’t have investigative authority.


  25. - Anon - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    That’s smart. Give the feds the bird. I’m sure barickman can do a much better job than an actual prosecutor. There’s no way THIS exercise isn’t a waste of taxpayer dollars.


  26. - Eastsider - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    Point taken…doesn’t change the Check/Balance nature of the role


  27. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 12:12 pm:

    Eastsider, I can’t help you with Benghazi or the IRS. But you’re wrong to suggest those are precedents or somehow analagous to the subject at hand. They are not, and your comment was dumb.

    By the way, Congress has been investigating those two things for some time and they haven’t come up with anything noteworthy. I expect they’ll keep investigating because it gives some GOP Congressmen quality TV time on Fox News.


  28. - Soccermom - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    Wow, Carl the Intern returns in a brand new role…


  29. - CirularFiringSquad - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    Gotta wonder why Jumpin’Jason just getting around to witnesses now. Audit was released in February. Guess that decision to do the 5 month slow walk was a bad one. Another stumble from the 2010 Brady campaign.
    Fire,Aim, Ready


  30. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    Yeah, you know the fix goes straight to the White House when the interns get involved.

    The tinfoil hats here are the same ones who said Obama would fix it for Blago, Rezko and Jesse Jr. I guess those conspiracies are still unfolding.

    Why any president, ever, would conspire to obstruct justice, risk everything, for a politician way down the ladder is never explained. I’m guessing Obama has more on his plate than this audit and the fate of the Quinn campaign.

    For those who can’t see what a political gift this is for the GOP and what bad news it is for Quinn, I can’t help you.

    U.S. district attorneys don’t empanel grand juries to give clean bills of health. They’re headhunters, and they get some more than 90% of the time.


  31. - DuPage - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    The feds might have an unrelated investigation going. They might have concerns one of their undercover agents or informants cover might be blown if they are put under oath and asked questions.


  32. - orzo - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 2:00 pm:

    Word makes a good point about the Holder DOJ and Blago, Rezko, JJJr. I would also add Dems Gene Mullins, LaShawn Ford, Derrick Smith, etc. If Holder is protecting local Dem politicians, he has a strange way of demonstrating it. The party who gave us AGs like Mitchell, Meese, Gonzalez, etc cannot imagine an AG who plays it straight.


  33. - Michelle Flaherty - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:21 pm:

    A DOJ intern calling a super-minority freshman state lawmaker seems like an appropriate use of govt resources #Hey19


  34. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 3:42 pm:

    Re: the OLA, most of you conspiracy people are nuts. The Springfield USA probably put the request into the DoJ’s intergovernmental affairs office, which got merged in the legislative office.

    http://www.justice.gov/ola/oipl-moved.html

    Of course, researching facts is anathema to your point of view, so why would you do it.

    Regarding Barickman’s intern nonsense, the National Association of Attorneys General website says the DoJ IGA office had at least 7 people working there in 2009. Thus, I imagine a merger with another office did not making the combined offices go down to 3 people. Barickman is a joke.


  35. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Jul 10, 14 @ 11:12 pm:

    ==Federal investigations usually drag on for a very long time==

    Point well-taken. Before I even came across THIS Post, I just commented a couple minutes ago as to this VERY germane reality in the Comments Section for today’s Top, 1st Post…!


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