Quinn appointee to prison board withdraws

March 15, 2011 10:00:00 PM PDT
A former Illinois state lawmaker who provided a key vote for Gov. Pat Quinn's income tax increase won't be getting a job on the state's Prisoner Review Board.

Careen Gordon asked the governor to withdraw her nomination to the board Wednesday, one day before she was scheduled to go before the Senate Executive Confirmation Committee.

The former Morris Illinois state representative changed her position and voted in favor of Quinn's recent tax hike. Quinn had just enough votes for the tax increase. Without Gordon's vote, the bill may not have passed. Days later, he nominated Gordon for the 85,000-a-year position.

This follows a campaign by state Republicans to block the appointment.

A Republican-driven website urged Illinois residents to sign a petition opposing Gordon's appointment by Gov. Quinn to the prison board. Republicans say the part-time job is a payoff for Gordon's vote on Quinn's state income tax increase.

"She voted against the tax increase last year. She campaigned against it in fall but voted for it in the lame duck session and had a meeting with Gov. Quinn and three days later was appointed to the Illinois Prison Board of Review," said Pat Brady, Illinois Republican Party chairman.

Gordon switched her position after she lost the election.

The controversy over her appointment gained attention Wednesday from former governor Rod Blagojevich. On Wednesday morning, he raised questions about Gordon's tax vote on WLS-AM radio. Blagojevich said he was charged for just talking about similar political deals.

"She cuts a deal, breaks a promise to the voters," said Blagojevich.

Blagojevich and Gordon are not friends. Five years ago, Gordon refused to shake the governor's hand as he worked the House floor during a budget battle. Seven months later Blagojevich was indicted.

Patti Blagojevich said Wednesday that there is no difference between what her husband is accused of and the alleged deal between Gordon and Quinn.

"Here's somebody who...made a vote to get herself a job. And on the other hand, you talked about jobs, investigated things with your lawyers. Discussed things and never took any action but you're under indictment for pretty much the same thing," said Patti Blagojevich on the radio.

"She may be correct. It's pay for play," said Brady.

Political reformer Dawn Clark Netsch said she disagrees.

"If you are going to tell the governor you can never appoint someone who is in office at one time, who might have voted the way you thought was the right way to vote, that's absurd. I don't find that to be an example of what we thought to be pay to play," said Netsch.

Previously, the governor's office said Gordon's appointment to the Prison Review Board was about her qualifications, not her votes. Gordon is a former prosecutor and assistant attorney general.

After reaching her by phone, Gordon would not talk to ABC7 about why she withdrew her name and referred all questions to the governor's office. It is likely she did not have the votes to get confirmed.