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Entire Illinois GOP D.C. delegation asks for federal Quinn probe

WASHINGTON–The entire Illinois Republican congressional delegation–six House members and a Senator–on Wednesday added to Gov. Pat Quinn’s political problems in the wake of a clout hiring controversy at the Illinois Department of Transportation, asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to probe whether “federal funds were used to subsidize or justify the potentially illegal hiring of dozens of patronage workers” at IDOT.

Last week, Chicago attorney Michael Shakman, who has battled clout hiring in Chicago and Cook County for decades, asked a federal judge in Chicago to look into Quinn administration hiring, alleging there is an “embedded culture of patronage practices.”

To add to Quinn’s woes, on top of that, on Tuesday, Sun-Times political writer Natasha Korecki and Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney revealed that a”criminal grand jury has launched a probe into Gov. Pat Quinn’s troubled anti-violence program — once likened to “a political slush fund” — delivering a major blow to the Democrat as he seeks re-election this fall. On Tuesday, the Quinn administration turned over 1,000 documents pertaining to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative to the Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez following a subpoena from her office”

The Illinois Republican House members, Reps. Adam Kinzinger, Rodney Davis, John Shimkus, Randy Hultgren, Aaron Schock, Peter Roskam and Sen. Mark Kirk sent a letter to Calvin L. Scovel III, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation requesting the probe.

“We write with extreme concern that federal funds were directly or indirectly involved in a scheme to subvert state hiring practices as mandated by the Court. Federal funds should never be provided to states to subsidize or justify political patronage. If the State of Illinois misused federally appropriated funds in this way, the American people deserve to know,” the letter said.

The move by the Illinois congressmen comes as Quinn is locked in a battle with GOP governor nominee Bruce Rauner and throws more attention on Quinn’s clout controversy as the lawmakers put pressure on the President Barack Obama’s administration to respond.

Below, the text of the letter…

Calvin L. Scovel III, Inspector General

United States Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Ave SE, West Blding7th Floor

Washington, DC 20590

Mr. Scovel:

Last week, a motion was filed in U.S. District Court against Illinois Governor Pat Quinn alleging illegal hiring practices at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), including the appointment of dozens of patronage workers to non-policy making positions in violation of a 1989 Supreme Court decision (Rutan).

According to the Associated Press, Governor Quinn “told reporters Monday that there were federal stimulus dollars that had to be spent quickly and efficiently, along with a massive capital bill” and said “the increase in jobs free from hiring rules at the Illinois Department of Transportation were ‘absolutely’ necessary.”

Additionally, according to the Associated Press, in a court proceeding on April 29, Governor Quinn’s office acknowledged “an ongoing investigation by Illinois’ inspector general of hiring practices”.

We write with extreme concern that federal funds were directly or indirectly involved in a scheme to subvert state hiring practices as mandated by the Court. Federal funds should never be provided to states to subsidize or justify political patronage. If the State of Illinois misused federally appropriated funds in this way, the American people deserve to know.

Therefore, we request that you launch an immediate investigation to determine the extent to which federal funds were used to subsidize or justify the potentially illegal hiring of dozens of patronage workers at IDOT and, further, to make recommendations to ensure such misuse of federal funds can never happen again.

Sincerely,