* 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.