Newly elected President George W. Bush’s staff famously complained that outgoing President Bill Clinton’s people trashed the White House — even removing the W’s from computer keyboards.
Mayor Jane Byrne griped that defeated Mayor Michael Bilandic’s crew left her with few records and “not even a mouse” at City Hall.
Now add Susana Mendoza to the list of victorious pols who are not happy with the way their predecessors left their offices.
Illinois’ new comptroller says she was left on Day One with offices with little furniture, locked desks and missing documents.
“It did kind of feel like the place was looted,” Susana Mendoza told WLS-AM’s Bill Cameron in a “Connected to Chicago” interview to be aired on Christmas Day. Mendoza said she couldn’t make a “definitive statement” on whether “pilfering” was involved.
Mendoza claims furniture had been removed from her offices, and there were remote controls with no matching televisions, keys that didn’t match vehicles, keys that didn’t match with desks, and missing documents “that people were working on over the last two years.”
“The current staff doesn’t seem to know where these documents are,” Mendoza said. “Maybe they filed them and hid them somewhere as a practical joke. I’m not sure. But it’s really kind of not funny because this is work that belonged to the state of Illinois.
“There are state statutes requiring proper disposal or destroying of state documents, and we’re going to try to track everything down, but it is frustrating because times are so bad as it is,” she said. “We really shouldn’t be wasting precious man-hours trying to track down information that should have been made readily available to us even prior to taking my office.”
The former Chicago city clerk defeated Republican Leslie Munger in a heavily funded campaign seen as a proxy war between Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner, who appointed Munger. Democrats viewed Mendoza’s victory as a big win in their war with Rauner.
Rich Carter, who served as Munger’s spokesman in the comptroller’s office, said he is “puzzled” by the accusations and suggested that Mendoza check out an office inventory.
“All publicly owned items that were in the offices were inventoried and remain in the offices,” Carter said. “If Comptroller Mendoza has any questions, she should check with CMS,” the state’s Central Management Services.
This isn’t the first time Mendoza has criticized the transition.
“We have not had the opportunity to meet with any of the staff prior to taking this office,” Mendoza told reporters after being sworn in on Dec. 2. “There really has been zero transition or help with that.”
Mendoza also was asked in the radio interview whether Munger left her a “note in the desk.”
“No, I think she took the note as well,” Mendoza said. “Pretty much I was lucky to have a desk. Maybe it was a little too heavy to move.”
Contributing: Fran Spielman