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Aide: Madigan open to subpoenaing ex-agency chief in NRI probe

SPRINGFIELD-House Speaker Michael Madigan intends to sign off on a subpoena of the former state administrator Gov. Pat Quinn put in charge of launching his scandal-tainted Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, an aide to the speaker confirmed Friday.

“As far as I know, the speaker is prepared to sign off on subpoenas and, I think, move this process along,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Early & Often political portal.

That assurance came after Republican members of the Legislature Audit Commission delivered a letter to Madigan, D-Chicago, and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, protesting their role in personally signing off on the issuance of any subpoenas tied to the ongoing NRI legislative probe.

On Monday, a subcommittee of the Legislative Audit Commission is expected to vote on whether to recommend a subpoena of Barbara Shaw, former executive director of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority.

That agency has been described by Quinn and his aides as having botched the roll-out and implementation of the $54.5 million anti-violence grant program that targeted 23 suburban Cook County townships and Chicago neighborhoods.

The program that Quinn launched one month before his 2010 gubernatorial election, which Republicans have characterized as a taxpayer-funded get-out-the-vote operation, is under investigation by Cook County and federal law-enforcement agencies.

On Friday, Quinn’s Republican rival for governor, Bruce Rauner, called on Quinn to lobby Democrats on the audit panel’s subcommittee to vote in favor of issuing a subpoena to Shaw.

Shaw’s lawyer, John Theis, told the Sun-Times last week that she was not prepared to voluntarily testify before the bi-partisan Legislative Audit Commission but would do so if subpoenaed.

Beyond Shaw, Brown would not delve specifically into others who might be subpoenaed to testify about their role in the anti-violence program, which was the subject of a scathing audit in February by Auditor General William Holland.

“I would assume they’d subpoena everyone involved in this whole process. I don’t know how long a list that might be,” Brown said.

Republicans contended in their letter Friday that subpoenas should be signed off on by the co-chairs of the Legislative Audit Commission and not Madigan and Cullerton. They pointed to two earlier instances in which subpoenas were issued by the audit panel without signatures from the House speaker and Senate president personally.

But Brown countered that having the leaders involved strengthened the process.

“If anybody wanted to quibble [with a subpoena,] the best response is that to make sure there’s no way to question the validity,” Brown said in justifying signatures from Madigan and Cullerton.

A spokesman for Cullerton could not be reached Friday afternoon about whether he, too, would be willing to sign off on a subpoena for Shaw.