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Illinois governor hopefuls launch new accusations

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 11:53 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 11:58 p.m. CDT
Caption
(M. Spencer Green)
Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner speaks Feb. 4 during a debate in Naperville. Rauner and his opponent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn are leveling new accusations against each other in the race for Illinois governor Friday. Quinn said Friday that Rauner is dodging responsibility for "troubling" business dealings, while Rauner's campaign is accusing Quinn of more patronage hiring.

CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday accused Republican rival Bruce Rauner of dodging responsibility for another business dealing he called "very troubling," while Rauner's campaign hit back over new allegations of patronage at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Quinn said the indictment this week of the former CEO and a trader at a broker-dealer linked to Rauner's former private equity firm raised questions about the kind of "business superstars" Rauner has pledged to bring in to run the state.

The indictment, handed up in federal court in New Jersey on Wednesday, accuses the former ConvergEx Global Markets Limited employees of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Prosecutors say the scheme to conceal fees bilked millions of dollars from clients. Rauner's former firm, GTCR, partnered with Bank of New York to form ConvergEx Global Markets in 2006.

"My opponent talks about bringing in business superstars to run Illinois. Well, this is an example of one of the superstars," Quinn said during a stop at the Illinois State Fair. "It's very troubling ... You've got to have answers here."

Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said the two under indictment were "rogue employees" who were fired, and that Rauner was not involved in their hiring. He also said any business person who invests in hundreds of companies, as Rauner's firm did, will have some bad employees.

"Does every investment work out exactly as they would like? No. That's not how business works," Schrimpf said. "What [the indicted former employees] are alleged to have done is unacceptable and they are rightfully being prosecuted."

Rauner's campaign also called Quinn out for hiring issues at IDOT and for his administration's contradictory claims that the issue had been addressed.

IDOT gave an $80,000-a-year analyst job in 2013 to someone who was chairman of a campaign fund with ties to the governor, the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises reported Friday.

The public transportation policy analyst chaired the Stronger Illinois Committee, which raised money from unions and channeled it to Democrats running in 2012 state legislative races. The group's previous executive director now works on Quinn's campaign.

"It looks like it still pays to know Pat Quinn," Schrimpf said.

Quinn said it was "not at all" a patronage hire.

"He has a solid record," Quinn said, adding that the employee has an urban planning degree from Harvard.

An anti-patronage lawyer sued Quinn earlier this year, saying IDOT wrongly gave jobs based on clout, not qualifications. The lawyer, Michael Shakman, asked a federal judge to order an investigation of patronage hiring at IDOT.

At the time, IDOT officials said they had already taken action to fix the problem. They said a review determined that 50 of 61 "staff-assistant" positions should have been protected from political considerations. They also said in the future those posts would be filled under state hiring guidelines, not with regard to politics.

But when The Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records on the reclassifications, Quinn's personnel agency said it hasn't made any final decisions.

Quinn didn't directly answer a question about the contradiction Friday, saying only that he has put a freeze on all hiring at IDOT and the final job reclassifications are "gonna happen" and all records will be provided to anyone who wants to see them.

"We're going to do things in the right way," he said.

The Rauner campaign called it "another deception from Pat Quinn."

Associated Press writer Kerry Lester contributed from Springfield, Illinois.

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