If the state’s Legislative Audit Commission convenes Wednesday and continues to move forward in its investigation of Gov. Pat Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, it would be a mistake.
Not because Quinn’s anti-violence program doesn’t deserve scrutiny. It does. It deserves significant scrutiny. Which is what the U.S. Department of Justice is doing with its investigation.
The feds are asking the state to stand down for 90 days as it completes its investigation. Illinois lawmakers on the commission should do just that. Do not do anything to jeopardize the federal government’s investigation.
The $54.5 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, started 30 days before the 2010 election, is under investigation for possible mismanagement and misspending. The program offered, among other things, job training and help for former inmates in Chicago neighborhoods plagued by violence. In February, state auditors detailed major problems and questioned expenditures claimed by service providers. Some Republicans have claimed it was a political slush fund to help shore up city votes ahead of an election that Quinn won by a slim margin.
Quinn has said he addressed problems and dismantled the agency that ran the program. He’s refuted claims that the program was started to gain votes ahead of the election.
Now, the program and the investigation has become an issue in this November’s election for governor. Republican candidate Bruce Rauner has hammered Quinn on the subject.
There are those who believe the state should move forward with its investigation and question former members of Quinn’s administration who were involved in running the program because voters deserve to know the truth before voting for governor.
Yes, voters deserve to know the truth. The feds have shown they are quite capable of getting to the truth when it deals with corruption in Illinois government. Besides, if the state honors the Department of Justice’s request to sit tight for 90 days, that still puts us into mid-October – before the election.
The bottom line is the state and federal governments should cooperate to get all the answers needed regarding Quinn’s anti-violence program. That’s the best way to serve Illinois voters.