Federal subpoena in Quinn anti-violence program

CHICAGO – A federal grand jury has subpoenaed the emails of officials involved in Gov. Pat Quinn's troubled anti-violence program, the latest chapter in a story that has become a major issue in Quinn's re-election campaign.

The May 13 subpoena, provided to The Associated Press by the Quinn administration, was issued a month before a Democratic lawmaker signed the subpoenas of five former state officials as part of a probe into the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

The subpoena requests that all emails dating back to January 2010 be supplied to the U.S. Attorney's office in Springfield in lieu of an appearance before the grand jury.

Among those whose emails have been subpoenaed is Barbara Shaw, the retired director of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, which took on Quinn's $55 million anti-violence program in 2010; Toni Irving, a former deputy chief of staff for Quinn; and Malcolm Weems, the ex-head of the Department of Central Management Services. The other two were Barbara King and Reshma Desai, but it was not immediately clear what jobs they held.

The people listed in the subpoena could not be reached for comment on Friday afternoon.

Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman said Friday that the governor has "taken the program's mismanagement and oversight shortcomings extremely seriously" and has directed all state agencies to "fully support" inquiries made by law enforcement.

"The state is working with [law enforcement] to supply all documents and information needed so they can do their job," Klinzman wrote in an email.

Quinn began the program shortly before the 2010 election as a way to reduce violence in dozens of Chicago neighborhoods by offering job training and help to former inmates. In February, auditors criticized the program for mismanagement and misspending, questioning expenditures claimed by service providers.

Last month, the state Legislative Audit Commission subpoenaed several people, including three whose emails are being sought by the federal grand jury – an exceedingly rare step for the bipartisan commission that reviews and approves state audits.

Federal prosecutors and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez also have requested information about The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, and it has become a major campaign issue for Quinn. His Republican challenger, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, has pointed to the program as an example what he calls a culture of corruption that Quinn commands.

And recently, the state GOP, with the blessing of Rauner's campaign, sent an email that falsely stated that Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin would call Quinn to testify in the investigation of the program.

Quinn has disputed Republicans' characterization of the initiative as a slush fund to shore up city votes ahead of a close election and has said he's addressed problems with the program by taking steps – including abolishing the agency that ran it.

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