Inspector General discloses political hiring investigation

Jul 24, 2014

Illinois' Executive Inspector General has taken an unusual step and is asking to be part of a lawsuit accusing Governor Pat Quinn's administration of patronage hiring.  

Inspector General Ricardo Meza usually operates under the radar.  By law, the office cannot often say what it's up to, at least until an investigation is complete. 

But a letter from Meza to Illinois' Attorney General all but confirms the office is, or has, investigated hiring practices at the state Department of Transportation. In it, Meza write that "though confidentiality provisions" prevent him from "commenting on or confirming the existence" of an investigation, the court has been informed of an inspector general investigation that "may be related to, or overlap with" allegations related to an ongoing court case. 

The case, filed by Chicago attorney Michael Shakman, accuses IDOT of hiring based on clout, rather than qualifications. Shakman says he welcomes the participation of the inspector general. 

"That's okay with us as the plaintiffs, I'm sure the judge will be interested in whatever the Inspector General may find."

Gov. Quinn recently replaced the state transportation secretary, and says it has taken steps to prevent political considerations in hiring.