Panel’s GOP co-chair wants Madigan help pursuing NRI emails

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SPRINGFIELD-The ranking Republican on a legislative panel investigating Gov. Pat Quinn’s failed Neighborhood Recovery Initiative asked Attorney General Lisa Madigan Thursday to help the panel gain access to thousands of emails from one of Quinn’s former top aides.

The governor’s office has exerted a claim of attorney-client privilege in denying the release of a large bloc of 108,000 emails belonging to former Quinn deputy chief of staff Toni Irving, who was one of the anti-violence program’s main gatekeepers in the governor’s office.

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, asked for Madigan’s help in freeing up those documents that were originally sought two months ago in a subpoena to Irving and that he regards as critical in the ongoing Legislative Audit Commission review of a February audit of NRI.

“I would like to begin the process of enforcing the subpoena and respectfully request that your office immediately take the necessary steps to compel enforcement of the subpoena in a court of law,” Barickman wrote.

“While we have made multiple and reasonable accommodations of Ms. Irving’s continued request of more time to comply with our subpoena as it relates to her production of documents, there are legitimate concerns that any further delays will significantly jeopardize the [Legislative Audit Commission’s] ability to fulfill our legal obligation to review the NRI audit,” Barickman said.

Irving was among six witnesses subpoenaed to appear before the commission to talk about the program and their role in its roll out or implementation. But the prospect for any testimony was put on hold by a request from U.S. Attorney James Lewis’ office to delay testimony for 90 days as a federal investigation into the program proceeds.

The committee is scheduled to resume its deliberations Oct. 8.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general declined comment on whether Madigan would go to court to get Irving’s emails or the broader question of whether the committee is entitled to see them given the position staked out by Quinn’s office against their release.

“We are working with the Legislative Audit Commission and will continue to do [so] as the appropriate next steps are determined,” Madigan spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said.

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