WE ARE ILLINOIS
State job goes to ex-lawmaker who supported tax hike
By Ray Long and Hal Dardick, Chicago Tribune
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn gave a nearly $86,000 state job to a former lame-duck lawmaker who supplied one of the votes needed to pass his major income tax increase, but the governor's office and former state Rep. Careen Gordon both said Friday that there was no connection between the actions.
"In the seven years and couple weeks I was in the legislature, my vote was never for sale," Gordon said. "Sometimes, there's just no conspiracy."
Gordon, a Democrat from Morris who recently moved to Chicago, said she first approached the governor about a job on the Illinois Prisoner Review Board soon after losing her re-election bid in November. She said that Quinn asked her in that conversation what she thought of the possibility of a tax increase.
She said she told him she could support it only if she knew how the money would be used, cuts were included and there would be "no new programs." He did not ask for her vote, she said. Nor did she feel pressured to vote for the legislation, she said.
The 67 percent increase in income tax, which the Democratic governor signed into law Thursday, passed the House on Tuesday with the minimum 60 votes needed. Lobbying, horse-trading and other forms of legislative compromise were widely employed to muscle the controversial measure through the Democratic-controlled General Assembly just hours before the end of the session would have killed it.
But the governor's office said Gordon's appointment at the end of her legislative career was a coincidence.
"It doesn't have anything to do with what she did at the end of her term in the General Assembly," said Annie Thompson, Quinn's spokeswoman. She said Gordon, a former assistant county prosecutor and former state assistant attorney general, is "being appointed because of her work on criminal issues throughout her career."
Gordon said she asked Quinn about the job again during a meeting with other Democrats at the governor's mansion in early December and he said "everything is positive, we're moving forward." The tax increase was not discussed then, she said. Gordon said the governor's staff told her he would not make the board appointment until after he was sworn in to his full term, which happened Monday.
She said she did not consider whether it would affect her job prospects if she voted against the tax increase.
"I don't think that way," she said. "I never allowed anyone to hold anything over my head like this."
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune
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