Gov. Pat Quinn's scandal-plagued anti-violence initiative directed thousands of state dollars to a nonprofit that purported to provide services for former inmates, but actually never existed, according to a published report Wednesday.
Project Hope, Inc., which was run out of a suburban Chicago day care center, received $15,770 through Quinn's 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The newspaper cited state records that also showed it took months for officials to notice.
Quinn's program is already under federal and Cook County investigations, and also has been the subject of legislative hearings where former state officials have been subpoenaed to testify. Illinois Republicans planned a Wednesday news conference to address the program.
The nonprofit was supposed to help former inmates reintegrate into society and its name appeared on a December 2010 list of groups awaiting approval for the Quinn initiative, which Chicago Democrat began shortly before the 2010 election to provide job training and other services in the city's neighborhoods.
Quinn officials put the nonprofit Healthcare Consortium of Illinois in charge of spending in Thornton Township, where Project Hope was based. In 2011, the consortium found that Project Hope wasn't meeting the terms of its contract. Emails in the following year to state officials indicated that no re-entry program existed and attempts to audit the program were unsuccessful.
"None of the monies provided to enhance their reentry program occurred due to the reentry program not existing at their Dixmoor location as stated in their application, which in itself is fraud in the execution," Jaclin Davis, an administer with the consortium, wrote in a January 2012 email.
Officials with Healthcare Consortium of Illinois told state officials in March that they intend to recoup the money through legal action.
The issue has dogged Quinn, who's seeking a second term, in an election year. Republican Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist from Winnetka, is trying to unseat Quinn.
Earlier this year, a state audit outlined "pervasive" problems with mismanagement and misspending with the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. Republicans have deemed it a political slush fund to secure city votes ahead of an election where Quinn won by a thin margin.
Quinn has dismissed such claims and said he took steps to correct problems, including abolishing the overseeing Violence Prevention Authority.
"We've taken the issue of the now-defunct NRI program's mismanagement and oversight shortcomings extremely seriously," Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman told the Sun-Times. "If any grantee or sub-grantee is found to have acted improperly, they should be held accountable. We have zero tolerance for mismanagement, fraud or abuse."