Former Prosecutor Backs Out of Metra Investigation

“I am personally disappointed that Patrick Collins cannot undertake this endeavor,” chairman says

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    Former CEO calls Madigan request for a friend to get a raise at Metra a "moral and ethical flaw." (Published Wednesday, July 17, 2013)

    The former federal prosecutor set to be appointed Monday to investigate allegations of wrongdoing at Metra has backed out, officials announced.

    Metra's board members said Friday it would bring in former Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins to investigate a scandal that centers around ousted Metra CEO Alex Clifford, but transit officials said Collins declined the job late Sunday.   

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    The latest developments in the Metra saga include House Speaker Michael Madigan inviting the Legislative Ethics Committee to fully vet his role, Metra's chairman calling for an independent investigation and the resignation of a Metra Board member. (Published Friday, July 19, 2013)

    “I am personally disappointed that Patrick Collins cannot undertake this endeavor,” Chairman Brad  O’Halloran said in a statement. “I felt he would have done an excellent job. I remain committed to interviewing other lawyers with outstanding reputations and investigative skills, and to once again ask the board for its approval.”

    Ex Metra CEO: "I Have Nothing to Hide"

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    The former CEO of the Metra commuter rail service spoke publicly Wednesday about the controversy surrounding his resignation and allegations of political clout being used to affect hiring within the agency. Michelle Relerford reports. (Published Wednesday, July 17, 2013)

    In an email to Metra's board, Collins pointed to potential conflicts of interest as his reason to pass on the job.

    "I was disappointed to be informed that, as a result of conflict issues, as a partner at Perkins Coie, I cannot be considered further for this matter," Collins wrote. "I wish you the best going forward in the challenging task at hand."

    Former CEO Clifford testified last week at an RTA meeting about pressure to hire and promote political allies from House speaker Michael Madigan along with two other Metra Board members, including chairman Brad O'Halloran.

    Both deny any wrongdoing.

    Madigan released a statement Friday saying he is confident he did not violate any laws and invites and investigation.

    Metra's board was planning to do just that at its first meeting since Clifford was let go a month ago.

    A spokesperson confirmed the special meeting was canceled.