* You knew this had to happen. The legislative scholarship program was killed by the General Assembly, but members were allowed to give out a final round of scholarships this summer. Some were questionable. Tribune…
Among those giving multiyear waivers was state Rep. Scott Penny, D-Fairmont City. When Penny, a police chief in that small town outside St. Louis, was appointed by local Democratic leaders late last year to replace a departing lawmaker, he vowed not to run for an additional term and to focus only on serving his constituents.
“It’s a wonderful job, but I don’t know if it’s for me,” he told his local newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat. “The thought of me being up here (in Springfield) long-term, I don’t think is realistic or practical.”
But it didn’t take Penny long to dive into the well-worn Springfield practice of doling out legislative scholarships.
With the perk about to expire just months into his new job, Penny gave out two four-year scholarships to a pair of students. State records show that the parents of both students have ties to the St. Clair County Democratic Party.
One scholarship went to Danielle Fiudo of Fairmont City, where Penny has been police chief since the late 1980s until taking an unpaid leave to serve in the General Assembly. Fiudo’s father, Michael, is a village trustee in Fairmont City.
The other scholarship went to Taylor Lundy of Belleville. Records show she is the daughter of Michael Lundy, a Democratic precinct committeeman in Belleville Township and former Belleville city treasurer. He is now executive director of the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority.
Another Lundy daughter also received a four-year ride to Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, from powerful Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, starting in 2008.
* The Tribune also reported on scholarships given out over the past ten years…
In the past decade, at least 75 legislators awarded scholarships to children of people who contributed to the lawmakers’ re-election committees or other political funds they controlled, according to the Tribune review. At least three students whose fathers were later charged with public corruption had their tuitions waived by Democratic lawmakers, records show.
During that same time period, lawmakers also awarded at least 317 scholarships to the relatives of state workers, whose positions range from toll collector to assistant attorney general, according to a comparison of scholarship recipients with the state payroll. Family members of at least eight judges — none of whom makes less than $140,000 annually — also received tuition waivers, according to the paper’s review.
That program had to go. It did some good over the decades, but it was just rife with abuse. Good riddance.