Illinois House and Senate Republicans are urging the Illinois Auditor General to refer findings from the Feb. 2014 audit of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) to the Executive Inspector General (EIG) for further review and potentially the U.S. Attorney for further investigation of potential criminal activity.
The lawmakers further called for freezing of any unexpended dollars – which could be as much as $31 million.
“Every component of this audit is barraged with questions of ethical integrity,” said State Rep. David Reis (R-Ste. Marie). “From the very beginning, many of us had grave reservations about the formation and implementation of this program. This audit supports these concerns. This is nothing more than Governor Quinn using taxpayer dollars to fund precinct walkers in Chicago.”
Sen. Barickman (R-Bloomington), Co-Chair of the Legislative Audit Commission, called the program “nothing more than a political slush fund for Governor Quinn.”
Sen. Murphy (R-Palatine) said, “There was no documentation, no monitoring, no attempt to recover funds. We need to get this information to the appropriate law enforcement authorities and freeze the spending. It’s a shameful waste of taxpayers’ dollars to bail out a failed politician.
“When critical care services remain on the chopping block and transportation funding for rural schools have been cut, the Governor was able to increase limited state resources for the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative from $20 million to $50 million in less than two months,” said State Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon).
Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) said, “I’ve spent 32 years in law enforcement and the information I’m looking at is the kind of information indictments are made of. This warrants in my estimation a criminal investigation.”
The Auditor General stated the $54.55 million NRI program was “hastily implemented” with “pervasive deficiencies in Illinois Violence Prevention Authority's (IVPA) planning, implementation, and management.”
The Audits also found Governor Quinn broke state law when he shuffled funds among various accounts in order to circumvent the legislature’s authority to annually appropriate General Fund dollars. In effect, the Governor was able to create a non-appropriated slush fund of $91 million that he could use in future fiscal years without having to request that the General Assembly re-appropriate those dollars. Approximately $45 million was eventually given to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. (IVPA Compliance Audit, for two years ended June 30, 2012; pages 10-14; Released 2/25/14. Finding 12-1.
The Auditor General’s performance audit included the following key findings.
- A troublesome timeline – beginning with Governor Quinn’s appearance in a Chicago neighborhood in August, 2010. In less than two week, $30 million was allocated to the program – before the IVPA staff was ever notified. In September, 2010 the “Governor’s office” tells the IVPA Board of the commitment to release some funds immediately and the “rest after the election.” By October 6, the program increased from $20 million to $50 million. (page 10) Subsequent funding brings NRI’s totals to nearly $100 million in taxpayer funds.
- Auditors questioned 40 percent of spending in the NRI program.
- IVPA turned over decision-making to Chicago aldermen for organizations to serve as lead agencies for the NRI program.
- While billed as a violence prevention program, the city of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods were not included. (page 73)
- Quarterly reports were submitted late and were inaccurate.
- IVPA failed to adequately monitor spending of State NRI funds by providers. (page 92) and failed to exercise due diligence in selecting the agencies.
- Lead agencies struggled for direction and management (page 29-31)
- Lead agencies expended $46.2 million for NRI – over $37 million was for day-to-day activities.
- They failed to properly ensure unspent taxpayers funds were returned to the state.
- NRI failed to meet its goals and failed to measure outcomes.
The 2012 resolution (HR 1110) originally called upon the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit of State moneys provided through the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative in Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012. The resolution was adopted in the House 100-16-1. Similar resolutions were blocked in the Illinois Senate.
For Years 1 and 2 of the NRI the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority received $54.55 million which $44.55 million came from the Governor’s Discretionary appropriations in FY11 and the remain $10 million were appropriated from General Revenue Funds in FY12.