Dozens of state jobs involved in a dispute over whether they should be free of politics were filled by Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration with candidates who were politically connected or gave campaign contributions to the governor’s party, an Associated Press review of state documents shows.
They were hired for posts in a process closed to the public, and without regard to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lays out strict rules against improperly giving taxpayer-funded jobs to people based on political connections. The Quinn administration says the jobs should be exempt from the ruling because they are sensitive policy-making positions, but one of the jobs was pre-screening the hire of highway maintenance workers.
The AP review, based on emails provided by the Quinn administration, is the first to publicly reveal the identities and connections of some of the people hired by IDOT under Quinn as part of a program that is being challenged in federal court and has drawn scrutiny from the state inspector general and lawmakers. The program also has become an issue in Quinn’s campaign for re-election, as Republican rival Bruce Rauner attempts to undermine the governor’s assertion that he has cleaned up Illinois government after two predecessors were sentenced to prison.