A federal grand jury subpoenaed emails of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s former chief of staff and two other onetime top aides as a criminal probe into a botched $54.5 million anti-violence grant program continues ahead of the November election.
The subpoenas, disclosed by the Quinn administration in response to a Tribune open records request, shows the grand jury asking the state for the emails of Jack Lavin, who served as Quinn’s chief operating officer and later as his chief of staff until departing state government last September.
The July 28 subpoenas were requested by Timothy Bass, an assistant U.S. attorney in Springfield who has prosecuted government grant fraud cases. In May, Bass used a subpoena to request the emails of five other key players in the anti-violence program, including the now-retired aide who ran it for Quinn. […]
Also subpoenaed were the emails of Billy Ocasio, a former 26th Ward alderman who served as Quinn’s senior adviser on social justice issues. Ocasio, who worked for the Illinois Housing Development Authority after Quinn’s election, left state government last year.
In addition to the emails of top Quinn advisers, a separate subpoena seeks all records from the state Department of Human Services involving any anti-violence program in which the agency worked with the former Illinois Violence Prevention Authority or the current Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.
* The Sun-Times has the Quinn response…
A Quinn spokesman said the records being sought by prosecutors are records the governor’s office already was asked to provide to the Legislative Audit Commission as part of its ongoing probe spurred by a February audit of the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative by state Auditor General William Holland.
“The governor has zero tolerance for any mismanagement and took decisive action to fix the problems long ago,” Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman said Saturday, repeating the stance Quinn has taken since the first word of the NRI probes. “The program has been shut down for nearly two years, we enacted legislation that would make Illinois a national leader for grant oversight, and the governor has ordered all state agencies to fully support any inquiries. If any grantee has done anything wrong, they should be held fully accountable.”
* Rauner in the Trib…
At a downtown news conference, Rauner sought to link his call for term limits to a grand jury probe of Quinn’s $54.5 million anti-violence grant program as well as a new watchdog report questioning Quinn administration hiring practices at the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“Illinois is suffering so badly under our career politicians with massive corruption and massive failure to improve the quality of life for the families of our state,” said Rauner […]
“This goes right to the heart of Quinn’s administration…You can’t get any more close to Pat Quinn personally that Jack Lavin,” Rauner said.
He’s probably right about that last point. Lavin was Quinn’s deputy treasurer, then was the governor’s chief operating officer before moving up to chief of staff. He also worked for Tony Rezko and did a stint at DCEO under Blagojevich. But he survived both of those gigs without a single blemish.
^ Quinn’s response to Rauner in the Trib…
Later, Quinn said the Rauner “doesn’t have any credibility at all when it comes to ethics,” a reference to problems at some companies that GTCR, the wealthy Rauner’s former equity firm, had invested in. “So I don’t pay any attention to him when he talks about that issue,” Quinn said.
* Greg Hinz gets the last word…
Mr. Quinn says he cleaned up the program when he heard of the problems — just like he’s now abolished the position of “staff assistant” at IDOT and fired those still on the payroll.
But that’s not going to keep the grand jury from doing its thing. Nor may it stop General Assembly panels from resuming their own review after mid-October. (Prosecutors asked the Legislature to hold off until then lest the federal probe be compromised.)
Even more important, the issue is back on Page 1, and Mr. Rauner likely will be able to keep it there. In the same way that I’ve challenged Mr. Rauner to take responsibility for some of the mess-ups that occurred in companies owned by his former investment company, GTCR LLC, it’s fair to ask Mr. Quinn to take responsibility for what occurred on his watch.
Pat Quinn would much rather be talking about what he sees as a recovering economy and “billionaire Bruce Rauner.” But if the past few days are any indication, another subject is going to be on the agenda, too.