Just as questions over Alexi Giannoulias's oversight of the Bright Star college fund program have tarnished his relatively strong reputation as state treasurer, questions over the oversight of a funeral fund are dogging the otherwise strong reputation of state comptroller Dan Hynes.
"Even as a pre-need funeral fund worth hundreds of millions of dollars began tanking in 2001, the state comptroller’s office ceased audits designed to ensure the money was safe," the SpringfieldState Journal-Registerreports.
"That’s one piece of information contained in 30 pages of documents regarding the troubled trust that the comptroller’s office released to The State Journal-Register on June 25, four months after the comptroller denied a records request. The documents from 2006 include detailed findings from an audit that uncovered deep financial problems in the trust once administered by the Illinois Funeral Directors Association. The records also contain IFDA’s responses to the findings by Comptroller Dan Hynes."
Hynes revoked the IFDA's license to operate the trust in 2007 - and said that then-comptroller Roland Burris should never have granted the license in the first place in 1980.
The IFDA says it's been able to work with the state's comptrollers up until Hynes.
The State Journal-Register has had to jar loose the documents that tell the story of the fund; secrecy, the paper says, "has been paramount."
Last month, the SJRsaid in an editorial that "The allegations leveled at state Comptroller Dan Hynes over the loss of millions of dollars from a pre-need funeral trust fund cry out for answers regarding what his office was doing about the fund’s growing deficit."
Jamey Dunn of Illinois Issues' blog also says answers are in order.
"Millions of dollars entrusted by Illinois citizens to pay for their funerals is at stake in an investment scandal that has been marked by confusion and finger-pointing. A lawsuit now poses funeral directors against an association that was supposed to protect their interests," Dunn wrote on Sunday.
"Rep. Dan Brady, a Bloomington Republican and licensed funeral director, said that his fellow directors are 'caught in the middle. They are left holding the bag . . . because of investment problems and questionable dealings'.”
Steve Rhodes is the proprietor ofThe Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.