Quinn Rejects Pitch to Hire Patronage Watchdog; Rauner Calls Him a 'Bumbling Fool' | NBC Chicago
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Quinn Rejects Pitch to Hire Patronage Watchdog; Rauner Calls Him a 'Bumbling Fool'

The unraveling IDOT scandal provides endless attack fodder for the governor's Republican rival

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    Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn rejected a proposal from clout-busting attorney Michael Shakman to hire an independent watchdog to clean up allegedly improper hiring practices inside the scandal-soaked Department of Transportation.

    According to The Associated Press, citing federal court papers submitted Monday by the attorney general, Quinn says in the filing that a watchdog isn't required since he had already taken actions that were "prompt, appropriate and aimed at a long-term solution to preventing any such improprieties in the future."

    Alleged patronage hiring within the Illinois Department of Transportation, aka IDOT, has dogged the incumbent Democrat as he fights for re-election against formidable Republican foe Bruce Rauner, who's campaigning on a vow to smoke out "corruption" and "cronyism" in Springfield.

    Back in August, state Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza alleged in an ethics report that IDOT had staffed hundreds of non-policy jobs with political hires even following the tainted governorship of Rod Blagojevich. Meza did not label Quinn as responsible for the issue, but his probe revealed that allegedly clout-fueled hiring increased under the Quinn administration. In response, former IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider called Quinn's foul in public, accusing his office of "pushing the vast majority" of patronage applicants.

    IDOT responded by laying off 58 employees and freezing opportunities for job-seekers with political clout.

    Last Friday IDOT said it was retaining 103 employees who were hired over the last 10 years without having to undergo an anti-clout screening process.

    In court documents Monday, Quinn said he was responsive to Meza's clout-cleanup suggestions, authorizing agency brass to be trained on legit hiring procedures and staffers to be subject to regular job performance evaluations, the AP reports.

    Next month Shakman heads to federal court as part of his pitch to recruit a watchdog to keep track of misdeeds of at every state agency, not just IDOT.

    The unraveling scandal has provided endless attack fodder for Rauner, the wealthy Winnetka venture capitalist who's polling behind Quinn for the first time after the governor ramped up a media campaign to cast the GOP nominee as an out-of-touch gazillionaire.

    "This scam, perpetrated by Pat Quinn, has got to end," Rauner said Monday, pledging to collaborate with Shakman and a government watchdog should he be elected Nov. 4. "Pat Quinn is not the folksy, bumbling fool he'd like us to think he is. He knows what he's doing. He knows what he's done."