GOP rep vows visit to state agency to find missing NRI emails

SHARE GOP rep vows visit to state agency to find missing NRI emails

SPRINGFIELD-A key House Republican involved in the legislative probe of Gov. Pat Quinn’s 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative announced plans Wednesday to personally visit a state agency to mine additional staff emails involving the program that the lawmaker believes have been withheld improperly by the administration.

In a letter to the governor, state Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Hill, urged Quinn to authorize “full and complete access to the emails and electronically stored information at [Central Management Services] related to the NRI program.”

Reis noted that a lawyer for former Quinn deputy chief of staff Toni Irving, who helped oversee the anti-violence grant program, indicated to the Legislative Audit Commission that CMS, which controls most of the state’s computer data servers containing emails, had found “over 100,000” relevant emails in a search. Yet, Auditor General William Holland had access to “a number much less than that figure,” Reis wrote.

Quinn’s office gave the Legislative Audit Commission more than 2,000 staff emails related to NRI but acknowledged some documents had been withheld because of lawyer-client privilege.

“I have reviewed all the materials collected by the auditor general and have received recommendations from experts in the field with respect to the completeness of the production of documents and emails from your office,” Reis wrote to Quinn in a letter dated Monday. “These recommendations have led me to believe that Central Management Services has not provided all of the emails that may contain relevant information.”

The audit commission’s work delving into NRI has been put on public hiatus until early October. That’s the end of a 90-day window sought by U.S. Attorney James Lewis, whose office in Springfield is conducting a criminal investigation into the program and asked the panel not to call witnesses to testify on the anti-violence state grant program for fear it could compromise the federal probe.

A total of six witnesses were subpoenaed to testify, and lawyers representing four of the witnesses appeared before the committee in July but collectively blocked their clients from testifying, citing the federal investigation. A fifth witness, former Quinn advisor Billy Ocasio, appeared before the panel in person but likewise did not testify.

A sixth subpoenaed witness, former CMS Director Malcolm Weems, did not appear before the panel, citing work commitments. Weems’ lawyer also did not appear personally before the audit commission but communicated by letter to the committee.

Reis indicated in his letter to Quinn that the audit commission is “currently reaching out to the state’s attorney on how to best move forward with possible action against those who seem reluctant to appear.”

In his letter, Reis said he intends to bring “an expert in the field of electronic discovery” with him to CMS’ Springfield offices on Sept. 3 and intends “to start my work and will continue until my review of the materials is complete.”

A spokesman for Quinn’s office did not respond immediately Wednesday afternoon to an email from the Chicago Sun-Times seeking comment on Reis’ letter.

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