* I’ve seen the Pritzker campaign’s FOIA request and would suggest they amend it to include communications from the governor’s current chief legislative liaison Darlene Senger, the GOP comptroller candidate who sent an e-mail last night advising the administration to try to tie this Illinois Veterans’ Home scandal to US Sen. Tammy Duckworth…
Today, the Pritzker campaign announced that it will submit Freedom of Information Act requests to Governor Rauner’s office to seek details surrounding Rauner’s fatal mishandling of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. JB Pritzker is also calling on the Rauner Administration to release all communications responsive to the FOIA request.
The FOIA requests will seek email correspondence between the Governor’s office, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that reference the disease. It will also seek the public release of the $5 million contract to upgrade the Quincy facility’s water system, including the metrics required to show its successful completion, and all DVA and CDC reports, protocols and evaluations relating to the multiple outbreaks.
“While an independent investigation must be launched, Illinois families and those who lost loved ones deserve immediate answers and transparency from their governor on his mishandling of the Legionnaires outbreak in Quincy,” said JB Pritzker. “It shouldn’t take a FOIA request to get answers for this unconscionable negligence, so I’m calling on Bruce Rauner to immediately release all requested communication about the Legionnaires outbreak. Despite Rauner’s attempts to minimize the severity of this crisis, brave heroes lost their lives year after year and it is time for those responsible to be held accountable.”
Yesterday, WBEZ/NPR released a heartbreaking story about the death of 13 people at the Quincy Veterans Home due to Legionnaires’ disease. WBEZ recounted how Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration was slow to notify the public about a major outbreak in 2015. Despite Rauner promising his administration has a handle on the disease, outbreaks have occurred the past three years in a row contributing to the death of someone this year.
This is not the first time Rauner’s failed the state’s veterans. In 2015, Rauner halted construction of residential veterans’ home in Chicago due to budget constraints. Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the closest facility to Chicago has a three-month waiting list, a gap this building was supposed to bridge. Now, some 30 months later construction has not restarted.
In 2016, Rauner bragged that he had cut $800 million in “wasteful spending” from the budget. On that list? The Chicago veterans’ home.
“Bruce Rauner has it wrong – caring for veterans is not wasteful spending,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Rauner’s misplaced priorities put political talking points ahead of fulfilling the pledge made by Illinois’ citizens to veterans. Rauner’s administration failed to care for Illinois’ veterans, but he’s too concerned with dodging responsibility than to show leadership on the issue. Now is the time for Rauner to step up.”