Thursday, March 6, 2008

Illinois: Investigation (Update)

The Chicago Tribune reports that Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration has "presented a confusing picture" of what his office knew about a woman who received a criminal pardon while her school received a $1 million state grant. William Quinlan, general counsel to the governor, told reporters the pardon "had absolutely nothing to do" with the school's request for grant money and that, at the time, the governor was aware of no link between Chandra N. Gill's and the school. Spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said Blagojevich was swayed by Gill's "good works" and the fact that she "was improving her life and doing good things with her life."

But the Tribune has already uncovered the fact that the connection with the school was at the heart of Gill's request for the pardon. The August 2006 petition states Gill was a volunteer at Loop Lab School but could not assume a full-time administrative position unless her felony record was expunged. The application also refers to conversations with the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity over the grant. Exhibit 1 of the petition is a June 7, 2006, memorandum from DCEO that refers to the $1 million grant. The Tribune also notes that the pardon arrived between the first and second disbursements of the grant. See coverage here.

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