CHICAGO (CBS) — Democrats and Republicans on a state panel looking into the governor’s scandal-plagued 2010 anti-violence program were accusing each other of playing politics on Thursday as former Quinn administration aides testified in Chicago.
WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports the General Assembly’s Legislative Audit Commission met for the second day in a row Thursday to question former aides to Gov. Pat Quinn about the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which the governor launched during the run-up to the 2010 election, amid a spike in gun violence in Chicago.READ MORE: Two Teens Charged In Clearing Carjacking
Quinn’s former chief of staff, Jack Lavin, said there was a hue and cry to resolve violent crime problems in Chicago that led to the creation of NRI.
“There were calls for the National Guard. The faith-based community asked the governor to declare a state of emergency,” he said.
As lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to pin down who created the program, and who decided how to spend tens of millions of dollars funneled to NRI, state Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) said an email between Lavin and the Quinn campaign in the month before the 2010 election smacked of politics deciding how money for the program was spent.
He pointed to an email in which Lavin said the program would help with black voters on the subject of jobs and fighting violence.
“This was all about getting people to the polls on or before November 4th, isn’t that right?” Sandack said.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Weekend Warmup Continues
“That is incorrect,” Lavin shot back.
Lavin said, just because Quinn was running for governor, doesn’t mean he was going to stop governing.
However, Sandack insisted the timing of the email was questionable, because the program had not begun before the election.
“Him telling campaign people we need to activate and engage the African-American community particularly; and, look, this governor’s initiative, this Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, it’s going to help us with our messages. Except there was no program at that time,” Sandack said.
State Sen Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) said Republicans on the panel are doing the very same thing.
“This is not about what an audit commission ought to be doing, this is a political witchhunt,” he said.MORE NEWS: At Least 10 Shot, 1 Killed In Weekend Violence In Chicago
Republicans asserted NRI grew quickly ahead of the 2010 election so Quinn could capitalize on it. Democrats said the programs, while poorly managed, nonetheless helped reduce violence and find thousands of jobs for residents in low-income communities.