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Report: Many Lawmakers Played Favorites With Legislative Scholarships

Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

tafoya250 Bernie Tafoya
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — If you had any doubts state lawmakers played favorites when awarding free state college scholarships over the years, doubt no more.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Gov. Pat Quinn ended the legislative scholarship program because of abuses. There is even a federal investigation into how three lawmakers used the perk.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

But analysis by the Chicago Tribune indicates that over the past 10 years, at least 75 legislators awarded free scholarships for state universities to the children of people who contributed to their campaigns or other political funds they controlled.

Eight lawmakers gave out multi-year scholarships this year to get around the program being abolished, the Tribune reported.

Quinn signed the bill abolishing legislative scholarships in July. The program was supposed to be limited to students who lived in the lawmakers’ districts, but some lawmakers failed to meet that stipulation as they gave the scholarships to political allies and campaign donors.

Better Government Association executive director Andy Shaw said in January that an investigation by his organization found more than 90 cases in the last five years of legislators misusing the program as political payback.

The BGA in January launched a petition to abolish the program.

But supporters complained that ending the program would hurt those who really need the scholarships – poor students.