Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn comes through again; Loyalty among thieves

Last fall as State Rep. Careen Gordon (D-Morris) ran for re-election, she promised her constituents to fight Gov. Quinn and the Democrat party’s proposed tax increases.  In November Ms. Gordon was defeated by her Republican challenger Sue Rezin.  When the lame duck legislature pushed through the largest tax increase in Illinois history during the final hours of the session, Careen Gordon cast her vote in favor of the toxic tax hike (the bill passed without a single vote to spare). 


Immediately after his inauguration, Governor Pat Quinn signed the tax hike into law and nominated Ms. Gordon to a high-paying job on the Illinois Prison Review Board.  The stench of the corrupt bargain was so strong that the Illinois Senate (in a rare show of bipartisanship) was prepared to block Gordon’s appointment, but rather than face scrutiny over the circumstances surrounding her nomination Ms. Gordon withdrew from consideration. 


That should have been the end of the story, but Pat Quinn found a way to reward Ms. Gordon for her service to the state.  The Morris Daily Herald reports that Careen Gordon began her new job as associate general counsel in the Professional Regulation Division of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation this week.  The position has an annual salary of $84,000 and an array of benefits that those of us in the private sector can only dream about, a pretty sweet deal during the current recession.


State Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) said that Gordon’s new position “doesn’t pass the smell test,” adding “I find it hard to believe that she was the only qualified person in the state for the job.”


“Part of the problem with the whole situation is, given the appearance of it all, you can’t help but assume the worst,” he said.  “It is not the right image to bring onto a state that has a governor on trial and another governor already in jail.  I understand she has to get a job and make a living, but I think this does damage to both (Quinn and Gordon’s) reputations.”


According to Gov. Quinn’s spokesperson Annie Thompson, Ms. Gordon will be working out of the Chicago office.  Thompson said that the governor appointed Ms. Gordon because “He likes her background, and her work in the General Assembly” and Quinn believes that she will be “a great fit” for the department. 


After the initial Quinn-Gordon controversy in January, State Rep. Pam Roth sponsored legislation which would have stopped the appointment of former legislators to state jobs for a specified period of time after leaving office.  The proposed bill died a quiet death in committee.  Pam Roth reacted to the Gordon hiring by stating “The governor’s been pretty bent on getting her a position within the state.  I heard the rumblings about that a couple weeks ago.”


Early in his career, Quinn served as an aide to Governor Daniel Walker (who was convicted in 1987 for his role in the First American Savings & Loan Association of Oak Brook scandal), then he served as Revenue Director for Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.  After a checkered political career Quinn was elected as Lt. Governor in 2002, a post he held until he assumed the governorship in the wake of the impeachment of his boss Rod Blagojevich.  Governor Quinn was elected to his own term as Governor last November despite winning only 3 of Illinois 102 counties and receiving less than 50% of the vote.


Pat Quinn deserves a lot of credit for remaining loyal to his ally in the tax hike scheme.  How many politicians would have the iron will and nerves of steel to stay the course and deliver the goods?  Is it any wonder that the "Land of Lincoln" had become the laughing stock of the nation?


April 22, 2011