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Kirk Seeks Federal Probe Of Disaster Funds From Hurricane Ike

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U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (CBS)

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has called for a federal investigation of federal disaster relief funds that the Quinn administration used for an anti-violence program already under the microscope for mismanagement of funds.

Kirk confirmed Friday that he has asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to look into how the state spent recovery funds provided to Illinois six years ago for flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike. The senator is an ally of Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner, who is running against Gov. Pat Quinn in the November election.

Much of the state experienced significant flooding from Ike, which was a tropical depression by the time it reached Illinois. The state received $48 million from the federal government to help 85 communities recover from the damage.

Some of that money went to financial institutions tasked with providing loans to small businesses in struggling Chicago neighborhoods, as part of the now-defunct Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, an anti-violence program that is the target of two criminal probes.

The Chicago Tribune reported Friday that $3.7 million in disaster funds went to three institutions, one of which previously misspent state grants. It never loaned any money, but kept $150,000.

“It does appear that money, federal money, was provided from Hurricane Ike disaster recovery to a microlending outfit that may not have lent out all the money that it was given by the federal government,” Kirk said. “The question that I would have is who walked away with the money? Can we get an effective federal investigation of this?”

Federal and state prosecutors already have launched criminal probes of NRI in the wake of a state audit that detailed problems with mismanagement and questionable spending within the $54.5 million program.

Quinn has said he addressed problems with NRI, and shut down the agency that ran it after learning of problems with management.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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