IDOT hiring abuses report critical of Gov. Quinn

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A report on hiring abuses and patronage at the Illinois Department of Transportation is very critical of Governor Pat Quinn and his administration, and immediately became an issue in the race for governor.

This stinging report was kept under wraps for two months. It said the Rod Blagojevich, and later the Quinn administrations, loaded the Illinois Department of Transportation with hundreds of do-little patronage hires.

"We found that the administrative orders were not complied with for an extended period of time," said Illinois Inspector General Ricardo Meza.

Meza submitted the 252-page report in June. It was accompanied by several hundred more pages of evidence.

It found that from 2003 to 2013 IDOT hired 255 exempt, so-called "staff assistants who did non-policy related work." Many were political allies and relatives of those already in state government.

"Our investigation revealed that those were approved by the office of the Governor, i.e. the chief of staff or deputy chief of staff," Meza said.

Quinn's office says that he abolished the staff assistant position and appointed a new IDOT director after receiving the IG's report.

"We have zero tolerance for any misconduct or violations of hiring practices," said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson.

"Patronage hiring looks like it has acerbated from the information that's coming forward now," Bruce Rauner said.

The republican candidate for governor called Quinn a "phony" reformer.

"We have got to change Springfield. We've got to shake it up," Rauner said.

The report said some political hires were IDOT landscapers, car washers and secretaries, who in some cases made more money than their supervisors.

Meza, who has not referred to law enforcement agencies, was asked if evidence showed the governor was ever directly in any of the questionable hires.

"The governor's chief of staff approves all hires," Meza said. "There's no indication Governor Quinn approved every one of these hires."

Meza explained this confidential report is made public only because the state's Executive Ethics Commission released it. He says the findings have not been forwarded to law enforcement agencies.

But this is more potential fodder for Rauner political ads during the campaign for governor.

(NOTE: Earlier versions of this article incorrectly stated how the report was released. This version has been revised and corrected.)
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