After taking a political beating over the early release of some state prisoners, Gov. Pat Quinn's campaign is fighting back.
The loudest critic of the early release program is State Comptroller Dan Hynes, the Democrat whose campaign commercials on the prisoner release program have used dramatic music and questionable statements to hype the issue as much as possible. But now, it turns out that Hynes' own campaign had dealings with a felon who stole $100,000 in state grant money, according to the Sun-Times.
William Norels was paid $15,000 for work done on Hynes' campaign in the last months of 2009, and he would have gotten more had he not resigned. It turns out that in 1999, he went to prison for filching $100,000 from a fund he founded that was supposed to lend state money to inner-city businesses.
Quinn's campaign says Norels would have been paid $60,000 for his work for Hynes. Hynes' campaign disputes that number, adding that they let go of Norels last month.
"Dan Hynes' hypocrisy is jaw-dropping," a release from Quinn's campaign said. "Maybe Hynes should clean up his own house before throwing more stones."
Quinn said Hynes not knowing he was employing a man who once defrauded the state is indicative of the "oversights and misdeeds that have occurred on his watch," as comptroller, including the Burr Oak Cemetery tragedy. It's the comptroller's job to license cemeteries in the state.
Hynes' campaign, meanwhile, defended Norels' work, but conceded that he had to go.
"We know Bill, and he did great work for us. But he could not continue with our campaign because of the nature of what happened," campaign spokesman Matt McGrath told the Sun-Times.
McGrath said the campaign learned of Norels' past days before the Sun-Times contacted them about the story, and let him go immediately. But the mention of Burr Oak in Quinn's release raised some hackles in Hynes' camp.
"Quinn is making outrageous and incorrect claims, and he should be ashamed of himself for trying, once more and out of desperation, to make political hay out of the tragedy of Burr Oak," McGrath said.
With the primary little more than three weeks away, the scrutiny has been sharpened over the gubernatorial candidates' every move. On Saturday, the Sun-Times also posted a story about a quickly canceled fundraiser for Quinn that was supposed to be at the home of Anthony Abboud -- a man who has close ties to convicted Blagojevich fundraiser Tony Rezko.