State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, on Monday called for a federal inquiry into Gov. Pat Quinn’s $54 million neighborhood crime program that was slammed by the state’s auditor general last week and likened to a “political slush fund,” by one Republican.
Radogno said she believed there was “plenty of reason to think there may have been actual crimes committed,” however, she fell short of echoing other Republican lawmakers who have questioned whether the episode rose to the level of impeachable offenses.
Quinn’s office scoffed at Radogno’s remarks.
“Those comments are ridiculous and irresponsible,” said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. “As we’ve made clear repeatedly, these issues were resolved more than a year ago.”
Anderson said it was an investigation by the governor’s office that unearthed issues when they came to light in 2012. After that, Quinn immediately moved to abolish the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, which was created before him, Anderson said. The program still exists and Anderson said as far as the political accusations — not one dollar was awarded until after the 2010 election.
Last week, Illinois Auditor General William Holland slammed Quinn’s $54.5 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, an anti-crime program, that was launched 30 days before the 2010 general election, saying it was rushed into creation then and didn’t cover some of the highest crime areas of Chicago. Holland said the Quinn administration didn’t “adequately monitor” how the state grant dollars were spent or on whom. His report found that community organizations that hired people with those funds weren’t maintaining time sheets and city aldermen dictated where funding was to be steered.
“Our audit of the NRI program found pervasive deficiencies in [the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority’s] planning, implementation and management of the NRI program,” Holland’s audit concluded, referring to the agency Quinn put in charge of running the program.
Quinn’s 2010 gubernatorial opponent, state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, blasted Quinn on the issue last week.
“Clearly, the governor implemented a plan 30 days before the election that was a $50 million slush fund,” Brady told the Sun-Times. “It smacks of promises made in areas that he needed good turnout to win.”
Quinn won the 2010 general election by about 31,000 votes.
Radogno on Monday said the state auditor’s findings deserve further scrutiny.
“I think there are significant questions. We are actually going to be asking the auditor to forward his findings to the inspector general as well as to the federal prosecutors to take a look at it,” Radogno said after speaking to the City Club of Chicago. “I think there is plenty of reason to think there may have been actual crimes committed, but I don’t know that at this point … I think it’s premature to use the I-word. I think that we need to look further into it.”
When asked if she had reason to believe the line was crossed by intermediaries or the governor himself, Radogno responded: “Probably all of the above.”
“Well he is ultimately responsible. He is the governor,” she said. “The buck should stop with him. He initiated this program, he announced it. He should be overseeing it.”