A criminal grand jury has launched a probe into Gov. Pat Quinn’s troubled anti-violence program — once likened to “a political slush fund” — delivering a major blow to the Democrat as he seeks re-election this fall. On Tuesday, the Quinn administration turned over 1,000 documents pertaining to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative to the Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez following a subpoena from her office.
The request was issued to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity on March 19 and sought records tied to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative — including those for the Chicago Area Project, a program tied to the husband of Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown. The Sun-Times previously reported that almost seven percent of the $2.1 million in funds given to the Chicago Area Project meant to combat crime in West Garfield Park went to Brown’s husband, Benton Cook III.
A copy of the subpoena bore Brown’s signature, but it was unclear if she personally signed it or someone else in the circuit court clerk’s office did so on her behalf. The subpoena, however, is not limited to that Chicago Area Project, but asks for extensive information about the overall anti-violence program, including “files, notes, memos and correspondence pertaining to all grants,” documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times through the Freedom of Information Act show. Correspondence from Alvarez’s office asked for “names and identities of all grantees participating in the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, including, but not limited to Chicago Area Project.”
The subpoena also asked for “copies of all payment instruments issued as grant disbursements, along with all related payment invoices” as well as “names and identities of any and all related DCEO field auditors and/or program compliance monitors.”
News of the probe, first reported on Early & Often, the Chicago Sun-Times’ political portal, threatens to tarnish the one-term governor’s reformer image — not to mention dog him throughout a heated race against multi-millionaire Republican Bruce Rauner.
A reformer, huh? Has there ever been anything Democrats have reformed that’s been a benefit to the public and not their own pockets? In his defense, at least Quinn isn’t facing any child porn charges like one of his Democrat colleagues.