IDOT political hiring allegations

Published 08/15 2013 09:41PM

Updated 08/19 2013 01:42PM

 SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Department of Transportation officials are under fire. An investigation by the Better Government Association (BGA) revealed unqualified applicants are getting state jobs because of their political connections.

The BGA says there could be dozens, if not hundreds of state workers, who got their jobs because of clout and not necessarily competence.

These findings have Andy Shaw with BGA shaking his head in disgust.

"Patronage is hardly shocking. It's the blatant disregard for the Rutan decision is very disturbing," said Shaw.

That decision was made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990. It limits political hiring, firing and promotions in the state's estimated 50,000 plus workforce.

"It seems as if a series of administrators have virtually ignored this anti-patronage ruling and found ways around it," said Shaw.

Shaw says, in some cases, new titles are being created and job descriptions are being tweaked to get unqualified applicants with political ties in the door.

"They are changing job descriptions to allow political hiring that are improper. At best it's unethical, at worst it could be illegal and I would say that a number of investigators are warranted here," said Shaw.

Senator Kirk Dillard (R), who wants the Republican nomination for governor, says the allegations should be even more upsetting for Illinois' unemployed. July job numbers show the state's unemployment rate hit 9.2%. The rate was 9.1% in June.

"It's always illegal and upsetting to have political hiring, but when your unemployment rate is the second highest in America, if you're watching this and you don't have political connections you should be doubly infuriated," said Dillard.

But what could be even more alarming, IDOT job applicants who think they might have been wrongfully passed over for a job or promotion could have a legal claim for damages.

The BGA says these allegations began to surface in 2003 under former Governor Rod Blagojevich's administration. But there is no proof Governor Pat Quinn is involved. The investigation is ongoing.

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