Lawmakers to allow subpoenas for violence program

Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn’s troubled anti-violence program faces another layer of scrutiny after a legislative panel approved subpoena powers for itself Tuesday to dig into how the program’s money was spent before and after Quinn’s election campaign in 2010.

The bipartisan committee acted as more details emerged about Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, with a prominent Democrat, Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown, acknowledging that she worked for a nonprofit founded by her husband that received money through it.

The Legislative Audit Commission, which helps review the use of public funds, voted 10-1 in favor of the rarely used maneuver to look into the 2010 program, which critics have likened to a “political slush fund.” Already it is the subject of a scathing state auditor’s report for mismanagement and spending as well as federal and Cook County probes.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of this,” said State Sen. Jason Barickman, a Bloomington Republican on the committee.

Barickman did not detail how he wanted the panel to proceed on the matter, but spoke of gathering a list of witnesses who could testify about it.

The committee’s vote followed Brown’s acknowledgement that she had worked as an unpaid accountant for her husband’s Dream Catchers Community Development Corp. Benton Cook’s program contracted with Chicago Area Project, which oversaw organizations receiving money through the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

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