A federal judge on Wednesday ordered a court-appointed monitor to investigate hiring at Gov. Pat Quinn's Illinois Department of Transportation, saying the monitor would help with compliance of a decades-old ban on political hiring.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit that anti-patronage attorney Michael Shakman filed in April alleging improper hiring practices. Attorneys for Quinn's administration had said a separate monitor wasn't necessary, and that a state inspector general had completed a detailed probe and changes were made.
But Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier said the monitor wouldn't negate the inspector general's work but would ensure a fair process. Shakman also had wanted a separate process digging into hiring at IDOT, which the judge said was unnecessary.
The ruling comes at an inopportune time for Quinn, who is seeking re-election Nov. 4 against Republican challenge Bruce Rauner.
Rauner lauded the judge's action in a statement Wednesday and said if elected his administration would work with the monitor to root out any patronage and corruption.
Quinn's office has said the practice goes back to 2003 and the administration of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is now imprisoned on federal political corruption convictions. Quinn said he was unaware of the practice but ordered an audit to review it when he learned of it in an August 2013 report by watchdog Better Government Association.