Yet another Illinois governor under investigation

Four of the last seven governors of Illinois* have ended up in prison. Is the Land of Lincoln poised to smash its own record?  The feds have indicated (in a most unusual fashion) that they have Governor Pat Quinn in their sights.  Dave McKinney of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:

The Justice Department has asked state lawmakers to wait 90 days before calling several former members of Gov. Pat Quinn’s inner circle to testify on the governor’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative to avoid possibly interfering with an ongoing federal probe of the scandal-tainted anti-violence program, a ranking Republican lawmaker said Wednesday.

"We do not want to impede their efforts or compromise the integrity of their criminal investigation," said state Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, co-chair of the Legislative Audit Commission that was set to hear testimony from Quinn's former aides on July 16 and 17. "Therefore, I believe it is appropriate for the Legislative Audit Commission to consider the request and its scope."

Barickman said the verbal request came from two staff attorneys and an intern in the Justice Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs in Washington, D.C., and not directly from the federal prosecutor’s office in Springfield, which would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the request.

The trio from the Justice Department "requested that no interviews of those connected to Gov. Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative program be conducted for 90 days," Barickman said in a late-afternoon prepared statement.

The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was a political slush fund that has awarded grant money to politically-connected groups without a competitive process, based in such factors as recommendations from Chicago aldermen. For example:

The Sun-Times previously reported that almost seven percent of the $2.1 million in funds given to the Chicago Area Project meant to combat crime in West Garfield Park went to [Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy] Brown’s husband, Benton Cook III.

There is something very strange about the state being told to back off by the DoJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs. That is the lobbying arm of the DoJ. McKinney continues:

… when ongoing state inquiries have skirted too closely to parallel probes by federal investigators, the requests to stand down historically have come from federal prosecutors themselves – not the Justice Department’s lobbying arm.

In December 2008, for example, former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asked a House panel probing the impeachment of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich not to call two members of President Barack Obama’s administration to testify, suggesting such a move would “interfere” with the federal investigation into Blagojevich.

Something definitely smells funny here. But one thing we know with a fair degree of certainty is that Illinois politics are a cesspool, and that the national public ought to beware of those who aspire to national office hailing from such origins

Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be governors of Illinois.

*Rod Blagojevich was governor from 2002 to 2009. He was convicted of numerous corruption charges in 2011, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's old Senate seat. He is currently serving a 14-year sentence at a federal prison in Colorado.

Blagojevich was impeached on this date, January 30, four years ago.

Dan Walker, governor from 1973 through 1977, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and other charges in 1987 related to his business activities after leaving office. He spent about a year and a half in federal prison.

Otto Kerner, governor from 1961 through 1968, spent three years in prison after being convicted of bribery related charges.

Hat tip: Peter von Buol

Four of the last seven governors of Illinois* have ended up in prison. Is the Land of Lincoln poised to smash its own record?  The feds have indicated (in a most unusual fashion) that they have Governor Pat Quinn in their sights.  Dave McKinney of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:

The Justice Department has asked state lawmakers to wait 90 days before calling several former members of Gov. Pat Quinn’s inner circle to testify on the governor’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative to avoid possibly interfering with an ongoing federal probe of the scandal-tainted anti-violence program, a ranking Republican lawmaker said Wednesday.

"We do not want to impede their efforts or compromise the integrity of their criminal investigation," said state Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, co-chair of the Legislative Audit Commission that was set to hear testimony from Quinn's former aides on July 16 and 17. "Therefore, I believe it is appropriate for the Legislative Audit Commission to consider the request and its scope."

Barickman said the verbal request came from two staff attorneys and an intern in the Justice Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs in Washington, D.C., and not directly from the federal prosecutor’s office in Springfield, which would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the request.

The trio from the Justice Department "requested that no interviews of those connected to Gov. Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative program be conducted for 90 days," Barickman said in a late-afternoon prepared statement.

The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was a political slush fund that has awarded grant money to politically-connected groups without a competitive process, based in such factors as recommendations from Chicago aldermen. For example:

The Sun-Times previously reported that almost seven percent of the $2.1 million in funds given to the Chicago Area Project meant to combat crime in West Garfield Park went to [Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy] Brown’s husband, Benton Cook III.

There is something very strange about the state being told to back off by the DoJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs. That is the lobbying arm of the DoJ. McKinney continues:

… when ongoing state inquiries have skirted too closely to parallel probes by federal investigators, the requests to stand down historically have come from federal prosecutors themselves – not the Justice Department’s lobbying arm.

In December 2008, for example, former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asked a House panel probing the impeachment of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich not to call two members of President Barack Obama’s administration to testify, suggesting such a move would “interfere” with the federal investigation into Blagojevich.

Something definitely smells funny here. But one thing we know with a fair degree of certainty is that Illinois politics are a cesspool, and that the national public ought to beware of those who aspire to national office hailing from such origins

Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be governors of Illinois.

*Rod Blagojevich was governor from 2002 to 2009. He was convicted of numerous corruption charges in 2011, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's old Senate seat. He is currently serving a 14-year sentence at a federal prison in Colorado.

Blagojevich was impeached on this date, January 30, four years ago.

Dan Walker, governor from 1973 through 1977, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and other charges in 1987 related to his business activities after leaving office. He spent about a year and a half in federal prison.

Otto Kerner, governor from 1961 through 1968, spent three years in prison after being convicted of bribery related charges.

Hat tip: Peter von Buol

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