by Ed Tibbetts, Quad-City Times
“100 years” is a 30-second political ad run by Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner. It is aimed at Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, and it ties Quinn to House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and ex-Gov. (and now imprisoned) Rod Blagojevich. The ad tallies up the years the four have worked in state government posts. (Quinn's tally is nearly 16 years — six as governor). And it says the four have taken millions in taxpayer money, going on to cite a litany of the state’s ills, from its pension crisis to its patronage hiring to its jailed ex-governor.
When and where is it running: This ad has been running in the Quad-Cities, as well as other parts of the state, since mid-September.
What you should know: This ad clearly seeks to tie Quinn to what is widely seen as a dysfunctional state government and some of its most controversial players.
The question, of course, is how much is Quinn responsible for the mess in Springfield — past and present. On the whole, that would take more space to decipher than we have here in this fact check, but there are a couple of statements in the ad aimed directly at Quinn and actions during his tenure as governor that bear some exploration.
First, the claim that Quinn, and the others, have “taken millions from taxpayers for themselves.” When asked for documentation on the ad, the Rauner campaign says this is a reference to their salaries as state employees. One could easily get the impression from the totality of the ad that it's money they have pilfered.
Now, let’s take two claims that the Rauner campaign’s documentation says are squarely aimed at Quinn: the allegations of corruption and patronage.
The first has to do with a $55 million anti-violence program in Chicago and Cook County called the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. The program was launched in 2010, when Quinn was up for re-election.
A state audit earlier this year was critical of the Quinn administration's management and implementation of the program. Also, the Chicago Tribune reported earlier this month that subpoenas have been issued by a federal grand jury.
Rauner’s campaign and his allies have called it a “slush fund” to help Quinn with Chicago voters. But Quinn has said it was a response to the city’s well-documented crime problem. His office also has said that it’s cooperating with the inquiries and that those contractors who got state money should be held accountable.
The second charge pertains to an inspector general’s report in August that said 255 “staff assistants” at the state Department of Transportation were hired improperly from 2003 to 2013, with a spike in the numbers during Quinn’s tenure. Some of those assistants are former staffers of former U.S. Rep. Phil Hare who were hired after he lost the 2010 election.
The report, however, says it found no evidence that Quinn’s office knew of the improper hiring. After the report was released, Quinn did move to abolish the staff assistant jobs. But layoffs have been put on hold pending a court review.
WQAD News 8 reporter Brittany Lewis and the Quad-City Times reporter Ed Tibbetts have partnered to check the facts behind political ads.
Watch for our Political Ad Fact Check reports Sunday nights on News 8 at 10 p.m.