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*** UPDATED x1 - “She did not ask him for a job” *** Did JBT ask Quinn to help her son get a job?

Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014

* The Sun-Times noticed that when Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka appeared with Gov. Pat Quinn at a bill signing ceremony, she whispered something about her son to the governor. Her mic was hot, though, and it picked up part of their conversation

Topinka: “…get my son to SIU? He loves to teach.”

Quinn: “Oh really?”

Topinka: “Yeah. He’s got the qualifications too.”

Quinn: “I know him, too.”

Topinka: “SIU. SIU. SIU.”

Topinka then slaps Quinn on the shoulder with a broad smile.

* The video

The governor’s spokesperson said Quinn “couldn’t make out what she was talking about.” It was “loud” the spokesperson said. Um, no, it wasn’t loud. Listen to the video.

* JBT’s spokesperson

Topinka’s office said the comptroller is looking to have her son “closer to home.”

“The comptroller recalls mentioning that her son just completed 20 years of service in the military, that he has multiple degrees, including his J.D., and is interested in returning to Illinois, preferably Southern Illinois,” said spokesman Brad Hahn. “It was no different than a million other conversations she’s had about her son in the last few months. Like any mom and grandma, she would like to have her family closer to home.”

I called Hahn myself. I asked him over and over whether Topinka had asked the governor to help her son get a job at SIU. He gave the same response about how Topinka “recalls mentioning” blah, bah, blah.

Finally, I asked him if Topinka also recalled asking the governor about helping her son get a job. “Not specifically,” I was told.

Yeah. OK.

* Look, I’ve known JBT for decades. She loves her son. She’s incredibly proud of him. She talks about him all the time. And she’d do just about anything to have him closer to her.

*** UPDATE *** Topinka’s Brad Hahn just called back. Here are three direct quotes…

She talked about wanting to get her son back to Illinois.

She was not asking for a job.

She did not ask him for a job.

I’ve known Brad forever. He’s always been straight with me, so it’s weird that he was so evasive before. All he had to do was tell the Sun-Times and myself what he said in our second conversation and it’s end of story.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


53 Comments
  1. - get over it - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Hey Judy - if your son wants a job at SIU or any other State job have him apply like everyone else. I’m sure his a fine man, great Officer (thank you for your service to our Country)and if as qualified and wonderful as you say - let him get the job on his own merits. He’s a grown man unlike Rauner’s kid who really did need Daddy’s help.


  2. - Shore - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    I’m not a fan of either one, but these are two old warhorses and it’s her son and after all their service this is one of those juicy nuggets I think should have been pocketed instead of posted.


  3. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    He’s a grown man unlike Rauner’s kid who really did need Daddy’s help.

    Yeah, lets compare an 8th grader with an adult with 20 years of military service…

    Really, you guys have to make everything about Rauner don’t you…


  4. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    She is clearly asking him to get her son a job at SIU and he is clearly receptive to the idea. Plain as day.

    The question of how some may feel about this is a bit less cut and dry. Is it simply a proud parent looking out for their child? Is it a politician exploiting their position and seeking special treatment for their child? Something in between?


  5. - horse w/ no name - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    Kinda sloppy doing it on a stage like that but…YAWN! Who cares.


  6. - John A Logan - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    “Yeah. He’s got the qualifications too.”

    It rather informative that JBT says that. It speaks to the default setting for political hires, which is their lack of qualifications.


  7. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    Well Sheila can’t really complain about the child of a well known politician getting a job at a state school now can she?


  8. - Keyser Soze - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    Reportedly Mayor Daley the senior was once asked if he had helped his son get a job. His response was …wouldn’t you?


  9. - Archiesmom - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    We are becoming ridiculous in the zeal to find wrongdoing and corruption in perfectly normal behavior. How many of us have never tried to get the best possible reference for a job or school application? Why ask Uncle Bob for a reference when you can get a CEO? My husband had a family friend who was a US Senator be his reference when trying yo get into a good college. Why not? He’d known the Senator for years and had interned for him? Why not ask Quinn if he could help? If there was no quid pro quo, who the heck cares?


  10. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    Can Quinn clout someone into an SIU job? If I recall, he can’t get a handle on the governing board.

    Sounds like she was planting the seed for Quinn to put in a good word if it ever comes up. I’m neither shocked nor scandalized. What’s the quid pro quo, as the Supremes have told us is the only criteria for corruption?

    For crying out loud, there’s real corruption in this country — see Citibank, just this week.

    Why SIU? NIU or UIC is a lot closer to Riverside.


  11. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    I know JBT doesn’t have the oversight over SIU like Quinn… but doesn’t she have enough clout to make things happen on her own?


  12. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    I listened to the tape several times. Nothing here. She’s proudly talking about her son. Always have, as I would my kids.


  13. - anon - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah….everything is A-OK when establishment pol does it. There are a lot of qualified people out there - they just don’t have clout.


  14. - Barney - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    my takeaway from this: Quinn really doesn’t like Sheila Simon.


  15. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:24 pm:

    I can see how JBT may have actually just been asking something like “Can you write a letter of recommendation to help get my son to SIU?” Something like that would also fit with Quinn’s response that “I know him, too”.

    Which would seem to be believable and fall back into the category of “constituent services” as discussed yesterday. Or maybe we’re just numb to these things?


  16. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    Anxious to see Sheila Simon’s press release, if she issues one.

    The irony will be thick. Almost as thick as the tone-deaf nature of doing so.


  17. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    One Man is on today!


  18. - Robert the Bruce - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    ==I’ve known Brad forever. He’s always been straight with me, so it’s weird that he was so evasive before. All he had to do was tell the Sun-Times and myself what he said in our second conversation and it’s end of story.==
    Maybe he couldn’t because he didn’t yet have an approved answer from his boss, and on things involving her kid and clout, he had to be sure she was 100% on same page with the answer?


  19. - downstate hack - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    Much ado about nothing. Quinn probably couldn’t make it happen anyway.


  20. - PoolGuy - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    this smells of the Kass combine. lol


  21. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    This is a non story.


  22. - Lt. Guv. - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    Sure she asked. . .nothing wrong with that. If you don’t ask, you don’t know.

    I despise Topinka, but this is a Mom looking out for her child. Good for her


  23. - Redux - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    A little ado about less.


  24. - A guy... - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    So what.


  25. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    …I did not have jobinal relations with that person….

    Good for jbt, if her kid is qualified why not help him get a job! Good mom will do that :)


  26. - the Patriot - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    Lots of Mom’s with kids who have a chance to hug the Gov or any elected official will do the same thing. No problem. No quid pro quo was offered.

    Oneman makes a good point except her performance indicates Simon lacked the qualifications for the position as she did nothing to distinguish herself despite vast resources not available to others.


  27. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    She claims her kid has the qualifications, but does he? Who knows, I sure don’t. Since we don’t have the full beginning, at least in the transcripted part, this seems like much ado about nothing. She could be saying “I’m trying to get my son to SIU,” but not in a clout way, just in a “I’m trying to convince my son to get a job at SIU because I think it would be good for him way.” Still, it doesn’t look very good and the initial response is horrible.


  28. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    O good, now the GOP members of LAC will have something new to talk about this afternoon. Snark


  29. - Zoom - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    With or without the clarification, I don’t see why this is important to anyone.


  30. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    I never before realized how much JBT looks like my mom.


  31. - Goooner - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 1:48 pm:

    It is interesting that so many find this acceptable.

    I like JBT, and she’s got my vote.

    But the idea that her kid would get preference is sort of repulsive. If he could get the job on merit, she wouldn’t have to ask.

    So yeah, what she did is wrong, and Quinn nodding and going along says a lot about Quinn. That’s the way he does business now and that’s the way he always has done business.

    Is this the biggest crisis in the world? Of course not. But we also shouldn’t accept this sort of thing.


  32. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    I spend time with a woman whose son is in the Marine Corps. I would tread carefully. There are few folks as dangerous as a member of the armed forces. Their spouses and THEIR MOTHERS. I would never step between my wife and my son. I value my life.

    From JBT’s demeanor, it looked more like a proud mother bragging than anything else. What, Topinka has no access to Quinn except at a ceremony like this? Really?


  33. - ??? - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 2:23 pm:

    “If he could get the job on merit, she wouldn’t have to ask.”

    Goooner, I have to respectfully disagree with you. If state government wasn’t filled with so many unqualified people who got their jobs based on political connections and clout, then maybe she wouldn’t have to ask. But it is. Virtually any state employee at any agency could tell you that.


  34. - Fayette County - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    How many others would do the same thing of the had the governors ear? I would venture to say plenty. A proud parent talking about her son is nothing bad in my book. I’m a Democrat and will support Simon but this shouldn’t be something to hold over Topinka.


  35. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    And everyone says bipartisanship is dead!


  36. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 2:38 pm:

    Sure sounds to me like she’s asking. I don’t mind that. What I DO mind is the complete denial. C’mon, JBT. I like you and voted for you. Please don’t evade.


  37. - Steve - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    Guess what Judy : hundreds of other people are qualified and apply for jobs at SIU. It appears you are trying to influence a hiring decision when you are an office holder of the state of Illinois. This is a conflict of interest. Period. You should resign from office . You are pathetic.


  38. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    maybe this will help folks remember other Judy buddy acts.


  39. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 3:01 pm:

    Somehow I don’t think a man with 20 years in the Armed Forces needs a helicopter mom, but what are you going to do about them?


  40. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 3:21 pm:

    I just got the video in an e-mail from the Simon campaign. That didn’t take long.


  41. - DuPage - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    If he is qualified, and it seems he is, he won’t need any help getting a job at a state university. (A lot of people are retiring). He should ask himself though, does he really want to enter under Tier 2/negative pension? I have heard Tier 2 employees will actually get less back then they put in.


  42. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 3:25 pm:

    ===I just got the video in an e-mail from the Simon campaign===

    Forward that to me, please.


  43. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    == I just got the video in an e-mail from the Simon campaign. That didn’t take long. ==

    She also sent out this video…

    http://youtu.be/Jne9t8sHpUc


  44. - walker - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 3:58 pm:

    I like our Judy.

    A big one? Not even close.

    But I am with Gooner on this. We have to hold our public officials to higher ethical standards than we often hold ourselves, our friends, our acquaintances, or our business associates. And we have to stop asking expecting them to give us special treatment that is not available to the public at large. Our public officials have to be meticulous about this. It’s that important. How else will we ever attack this deep-rooted problem of unfair advantage to those who are connected politically?


  45. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    It’s quite amusing to me to hear from the Simon peanut gallery about family clout when Simon’s political career would be nonexistent if it had not been for her father.

    If this was a clout request - and I don’t hear it on this video, it is to someone who didn’t hear it and is too incompetent to act upon it.


  46. - Cheswick - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 4:40 pm:

    This might be a better job for Judy’s son. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think U.S. magistrates have to be approved by the U.S. Senate. In any event, I’d recommend a call to Dick Durbin:

    http://iln.isba.org/blog/2013/07/01/applications-sought-us-magistrate-judge


  47. - Bemused - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 4:54 pm:

    I think anyone who has been in Springfield any length of time is only surprised at the place and timing of this. Maybe also wonder if JBT is a bit off her game, something of a rookie gaffe.

    I am sure there are those who got a State Job without clout. Reality is a whole lot of folks had to pass muster with the head of the county party that controlled the Statehouse. Some folks from the other party had to be hired so some deals were made.

    Having an “A” on the tests means a lot. Having an “A” and the right person whispering in someone’s ear means even more.


  48. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 7:07 pm:

    ===Maybe also wonder if JBT is a bit off her game, something of a rookie gaffe.===

    Let’s be clear here;

    It’s not a rookie gaffe for a Mom to brag on her son, and just say he wants to teach at SIU. K?

    Nothing in 2 exchanges indicated anything other than talking about her son. No directions, no specifics, no paperwork, no phone numbers, no attempt by either to ask the other to follow up directly to …anything. Period.


  49. - Bemused - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 8:36 pm:

    OW
    First of all let me say I admire what you bring to this forum. I know I am no where near as versed in the workings of this States politics as yourself, Rich and others.
    However your rebuke on this one falls flat with me. Perhaps as you say this is but the innocent ramblings of a proud momma. In fact I would think JBT would have enough stroke on her own to move things along should she wish.
    Thing is I have lived in Springfield long enough to know these arrangements start in about the manner recorded but away from the crowds. Very little if any paperwork involved. In the best cases nothing can be proved. Very often the only thing expected in return is a favor down the road. Fortunes change and down the road that party may not run the show.

    I have a very vivid memory of doing voter registration back during the Edgar years. I was signing up two young ladies maybe in their early twenty’s. While doing the paperwork one knowingly told her friend she needed to vote Republican if she wanted to get a State Job.


  50. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 9:19 pm:

    Well, if “Veterans’ Preferance” is working as the law requires, Maj. (Ret.) Topinka should have a good shot at any State position for which he applies. No snark.


  51. - Anony - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 9:28 pm:

    ==this is one of those juicy nuggets I think should have been pocketed instead of posted==
    Absolutely right. There’s no need for the little people to know what really goes on in Springfield.

    ==If state government wasn’t filled with so many unqualified people who got their jobs based on political connections and clout, then maybe she wouldn’t have to ask. But it is. Virtually any state employee at any agency could tell you that.==
    Right on. The only solution to a state government full of unqualified people who got their jobs via clout is a state government with MORE people who got their jobs via clout.

    ==Kinda sloppy doing it on a stage like that==
    Good luck finding a similar video starring MJM.

    ==I have heard Tier 2 employees will actually get less back then they put in.==
    Somebody’s gotta pay for Tier 1.

    ==Why SIU? NIU or UIC is a lot closer to Riverside==
    At least give the guy a buffer zone.


  52. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 16, 14 @ 9:50 pm:

    - Bemused -,

    You are too kind with your compliment. Thank you. There is no group of people that know about Illinois and her politics than those who hang here, I am just glad to hang here too.

    To your comment,

    ===However your rebuke on this one falls flat with me. Perhaps as you say this is but the innocent ramblings of a proud momma. In fact I would think JBT would have enough stroke on her own to move things along should she wish.===

    If you believe Comptroller Topinka has that influence herself, than that would strengthen my argument that it’s just her doting on her son. You can’t say “should be able to…” on her own in one breath and then question if it’s a favor. Can’t work that way.

    Don’t let paranoia of things past dictate to specific instances when no facts point to similarities. I understand, I even “get it”, but given the profile of all three involved, unless you can show something different, it is what it is.

    It’s all good, what makes this place so special is the dialog. I don’t mind defending my comments, thanks for asking me too.

    Just consider this; let things like this breathe before coming to a conclusion, that hasn’t even happened.

    With respect,

    OW


  53. - redleg - Thursday, Jul 17, 14 @ 6:40 pm:

    “Well, if “Veterans’ Preferance” is working as the law requires, Maj. (Ret.) Topinka should have a good shot at any State position for which he applies.”

    Your snark is correct. Veteran’s Preference hasn’t existed in the form for which it was intended for a minimum of 30 years at the public sector level.

    Prior to that, a hired veteran had to deal with a lot of snark from non-veteran types at the management level,


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact




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