CHICAGO (STMW) — A $1,000 fine has been levied against a former top staffer in Gov. Pat Quinn’s office for doing political work on state time and state computers nearly two years ago.
Carolyn Brown Hodge, who resigned as deputy chief of staff effective in October 2009, drew the fine in a decision delivered by the state’s Executive Ethics Commission.
But the chairman of the House State Government Administration Committee was troubled by the time lag between Hodge’s departure a year before the November 2010 general election and the resolution of the case this month. Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said he would send a letter asking Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza to explain the timing and hold a full hearing if the answer is unsatisfactory.
The inspector general’s office notified the ethics commission of the case in a letter dated Dec. 2 — a month after Quinn’s victory. The attorney general’s office said it received a referral from Meza’s office Dec. 3, according to officials. An attorney general spokeswoman said the office then filed the case before the ethics commission Jan. 19.
Cole Kain, chief of staff in the inspector general’s office, said the Hodge case was one of 56 investigations closed in October 2010, the month before the election. But Kain said the evidence needed to be gathered together for that and other cases for further referral, such as to the attorney general’s office.
“The amount of time between when the file was closed and referred to the attorney general’s office is not based on political considerations,” Kain said.
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said the administration takes “all ethics matters very seriously” and that it did not seek to slow down the case during the campaign.
Hodge was accused of sending several “emails of a political nature either from her state email account or from her private email,” records showed. They ranged from getting Quinn political signs for a parade to lining up campaign appearances for the governor, including messages during work time to a Quinn campaign official about political events, records show.
Hodge could not be reached for comment. Records show she did not contest the facts leading to the ethics violation.
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