After several Better Government Association investigations uncovered potentially serious patronage issues at the Illinois Department of Transportation, agency boss Ann Schneider resigned Monday, Gov. Pat Quinn announced.
The move came after a series of stories beginning last summer, when the BGA exposed apparently widespread clout hiring problems at IDOT. Starting in 2003, the BGA found, IDOT routinely circumvented a U.S. Supreme Court order, known as Rutan, that was effectively supposed to end political hiring, firing and promotions in state government. The questionable hiring practices began under then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and continued under Quinn.
In a story published just last month, after Schneider had previously told the BGA she had no knowledge of illegal hiring, the BGA found Schneider’s own stepdaughter was hired as a “staff assistant,” a job title at the center of many clout hires.
Based on the BGA’s work, longtime anti-patronage crusading attorney Michael Shakman filed papers in U.S. District Court in April seeking to remove questionable IDOT hires from their posts, and place state government under a hiring “monitor,” to ensure anti-patronage rules are followed. That case is still ongoing.
Schneider had been IDOT secretary since 2011, and was the agency’s director of finance and administration before that.
Quinn announced Schneider will be replaced by Veterans Affairs Director Erica Borggren, who will take over July 11.
This article was written and reported by the BGA’s Patrick McCraney, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (815) 483-1612.