Troubling report may loom large in fall campaign
Republicans wasted no time in attacking Gov. Pat Quinn over the scathing audit of the anti-violence Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
Who could blame them? Audits this bad haven’t really happened since the unlamented days of Rod Blagojevich.
The program was designed to combat violence in Chicago. Coincidentally, it was hatched in August 2010 when Quinn was in a tight re-election campaign. It was Quinn’s office that gave the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority the go-ahead to do it.
Auditor General William Holland said that in the first 2 years of the $54.5 million program, there were “pervasive deficiencies in IVPA’s planning, implementation and management” of the program.
The audit said the program was “hastily implemented,” documentation was lacking or non-existent, expenses weren’t adequately monitored, and on and on.
On that expense issue, auditors said $4.4 million was charged to the program by various participating community agencies and partners, but there were questions about $1.8 million of that.
So, 40 percent of the expense money may or may not have been legitimate. There’s no way of telling.
Basically, it appeared to be another case of something that drives taxpayers absolutely nuts: Millions of dollars going out the door for a program that, on its surface, appears to have merit, only to have the money disappear into the vapor for lack of even basic accountability standards.
Republicans immediately charged that there likely was criminal wrongdoing involved and called for outside investigations. They referred to the program as a Quinn “slush fund” designed to curry favor for him in Chicago before the election. The phrase “impeachable offense” was even dropped.
It’s hard to see that there would be any rush to impeachment. Quinn isn’t as universally despised as Blagojevich.
But it is still a very troubling audit that could haunt Quinn throughout the upcoming campaign for governor. It wouldn’t be hard to put together an effective attack ad or mailer simply quoting from the audit.
Plus, Republicans maintain a steady drumbeat demanding a criminal investigation. If one gets started, the administration has to worry about what it might produce.
It’s way early to predict how this will affect the upcoming campaign, but it’s one of those things that could really loom large.
but way behind
A We Ask America poll conducted last week showed state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale solidly in second place in the Republican primary for governor.
The poll showed Dillard with more than 17 percent of the vote, compared to Bloomington Sen. Bill Brady’s 13 percent. It gave Dillard some ammunition to refute Brady’s recent statements that the Republican primary is a two-man race between him and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner. Not sure it’s a good thing when a hot issue in the primary is who is in second place.
The problem for Dillard is that his 17 percent in the poll is still less than half of the 36 percent that Rauner is polling with 2 weeks left before the election.
That’s a lot of ground to make up, even if Dillard’s recent ads are starting to build support for him and the anti-Rauner ads bankrolled by unions are having a negative effect on him.
The We Ask America poll showed nearly 27 percent still undecided, so Dillard has the chance to make up some ground with them, although it’s unreasonable to think he’d get them all.
By the way, the poll showed Treasurer Dan Rutherford getting slightly more than 7 percent of the vote. If he can overcome that kind of deficit in the time remaining, it will be one of the biggest campaign stories of all time.