Gov. Pat Quinn in February nominated Robert Flider – a former state representative who voted last year for the 67 percent income tax increase – to head the Illinois Department of Agriculture at an annual salary of $133,273.
It’s been a year since Quinn nominated former Rep. Michael Smith, who also voted for the tax increase, to sit on the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board. The job, which entails attending a meeting once a month with the option of attending by phone, comes with a yearly salary just shy of $94,000.
But it won’t be until after the November election that their confirmations could go to an Illinois Senate vote, if there’s a vote at all. The Illinois Constitution makes gubernatorial appointments automatic after 60 session days have passed.
Six of the 12 Democratic lame-duck House lawmakers who voted for the tax increase in the final hours of their terms have since ended up with government jobs. The nominations of Flider and Smith have been sitting in the Senate Executive Appointments Committee.
To Sen. Dan Duffy, the delay is as much of a coincidence as their post-tax-increase appointments are. Duffy, R-Lake Barrington, has made a name for himself asking tough questions of appointees and their relations to officials.
“Of course it’s not by chance,” Duffy said. “When you stick someone in a job and pay them for months or years [before a hearing], you’re basically giving them the job.”
Quinn’s office has steadfastly denied allegations of quid pro quo in his appointments of Flider, Smith and Careen Gordon, the first of the 12 lame ducks to be offered a state job.
Within three days of the Jan 12, 2011, tax increase vote, Quinn nominated Gordon to fill a vacancy on the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, which pays $86,000 a year. She quit two months later, a day before a Senate hearing in which Republicans promised a grilling for the appearance of getting the job in exchange for her vote to raise the income tax.
A month later, Gordon landed an $84,000-a-year job with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which did not require Senate approval. Neither did the job of former representative David Miller, a dentist who also voted for the tax increase. He now has a $117,000-a-year job as oral health chief for the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Both Gordon and Flider had campaigned against the tax increase in 2010 before losing their re-election bids to Republican opponents and voting for it. Smith actively supported the increase, as did Miller, who ran for comptroller but lost to Republican Judy Baar Topinka. Two other outgoing House members who voted for the tax increase – John O’Sullivan and Michael Carberry – got jobs with Cook County, although O’Sullivan later was fired.
Governors often have not formally submitted appointment candidates for Senate review, which is a problem the Senate tried to rectify. Lawmakers last year approved a bill eliminating serving appointees – at the time numbering about 500 – who had not been confirmed or whose terms had expired. While the Senate had the three-fifths vote necessary to override Quinn’s amendatory veto, the legislation died in the House.
Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, said the Quinn administration has been “very, very slow” when it comes to moving candidates through the process. She said she favored a reform that would set a time limit for governors to submit a nominee’s paperwork.
Althoff said she is unsure how she will vote on the Flider or Smith nominations if they go before the Senate. But she said there is the obvious perception that the two got their jobs in exchange for voting for the tax increase.
“Representative Flider is a good man and was a good legislator, and I think he’d serve well in that capacity. The problem I struggle with is that a ‘yes’ vote could very well be perceived as my approval of what I am calling a misuse of the process to reward people who are not voted back into office, or who appear to have done [the governor’s] bidding,” Althoff said. “I don’t think that’s the message we want to send to our constituency.”
More than a few state jobs also have gone to Democratic candidates who lost their 2010 election bids.
Dan Seals, who unsuccessfully ran three times for the 10th Congressional District, was appointed last year by Quinn to be assistant director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Former state Rep. Julie Hamos, who stepped down in 2010 to run but lost to Seals in the primary, was appointed by Quinn to be assistant director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which pays $142,338 a year.
Raising taxes, losing elections, winning jobs
Six of the 12 lame-duck Democratic House lawmakers who approved the historic 67 percent Illinois income tax increase have since received government jobs and pensions.
Four of them received jobs with the state:
• Robert Flider was nominated in February by Gov. Pat Quinn to head the Illinois Department of Agriculture, a job that pays $133,273 a year.
• Careen Gordon ended up with an $84,000-a-year job as an attorney with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Quinn first nominated her for an $86,000-a-year seat on the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, but she withdrew after Senate Republicans promised a grilling on the perception of quid pro quo.
• Michael Smith was nominated by Quinn in June 2011 to a seat on the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board. The board, which meets once a month, pays $93,926 a year.
• David Miller, a dentist who served 10 years before running for comptroller and losing to Republican Judy Baar Topinka, was hired at $117,000 a year as oral health chief for the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Two lame-duck lawmakers, appointed to fill unexpired terms, ended up with Cook County jobs:
• John O’Sullivan was hired in May 2011 as a regional superintendent with the Cook County Forest Preserve District. The job pays $85,704 a year. He was fired in October.
• Michael Carberry was hired by Cook County – at $100,000 a year – as deputy director in the county’s Department of Facilities Management.
Democratic candidates who were not involved in the tax increase vote also have ended up with state jobs:
• Dan Seals, who unsuccessfully ran in 2006, 2008 and 2010 for the 10th Congressional District, was appointed last year by Quinn to be assistant director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, a position that pays more than $121,000 a year.
• Former State Rep. Julie Hamos, who stepped down to run for the 10th District but lost to Seals in the 2010 primary, was appointed by Quinn to head the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The job pays $142,338 a year.
Sources: Illinois General Assembly, Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal, Northwest Herald archives