Dems running for governor to meet in debate

January 19, 2010 7:39:03 PM PST
The Democratic candidates in the race for Illinois governor debate at ABC7 Chicago Tuesday. Some candidates spend their days before debate night boning up on the issues. Not so for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who took time to accept an endorsement from the International Association of Firefighters.

And not so for State Comptroller Dan Hynes, who called a full-blown news conference.

"The governor seems more concerned about damage control and covering up," Hynes said Tuesday.

Hynes criticized what he called a Quinn administration "gag order," a letter threatening to fire any of 14,000 Dept. of Corrections employees, if they speak to the media about the controversial--now suspended-- MGT Push program that released 1,700 criminals, some of whom were convicted of violent offenses.

"I'm not sure how a letter sent to 14,000 state employees, basically telling them to be quiet or be fired, could be interpreted as anything but a cover up," said Hynes.

Quinn says the letter was aimed at protecting Illinois Dept. of Corrections officers in their law enforcement capacity.

"You cannot have anyone in the department compromising the safety of an officer. So, that's what tjat is all about," Quinn said.

Hynes has used television ads to pound the governor on the "early release" issue. He says its evidence of how Quinn has mismanaged handling the state's $13 billion budget deficit.

"It's a deficit that's grown from $9 billion to $13 billion in the one year Pat Quinn has taken office. He has borrowed almost $6 billion to patch over the problem, really in an effort to get through an election," Hynes said.

"My opponent has run a thoroughly negative campaign, and I think the people of Illinois will see tonight and in the next two weeks, that I've been a builder, a positive person, rebuilding the trust of the people of Illinois and getting our state back on the right track," Quinn said.