On its Web site this evening, ABC7 News Chicago reports on the new Illinois Democratic governor in "Who Is Pat Quinn?" General assignment reporter John Garcia tells readers about the man who replaced former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich :
Quinn comes in with a squeaky clean reputation at a time when the past two governors have faced serious federal charges.
An Illinois Democrat with a squeaky clean reputation? Now that is news. It also conflicts with assertions made by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in 1996, when he faced Quinn in the party's primary. The (Springfield, IL) State Journal-Register covered a February debate:
CHICAGO -- U.S. Rep. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, accused rival Pat Quinn of being a "ghost payroller" during a spirited radio confrontation Thursday.
The two leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate tried to keep each other on the defensive during the 30-minute forum, which was taped at WMAQ-AM radio and set for broadcast at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Quinn slammed Durbin for being a political insider while describing himself as a political outsider.
Durbin, who participated in the debate by telephone from Washington, D.C., questioned Quinn's right to use the labels.
"Outsider Pat Quinn has been involved in government for over 22 years now," said Durbin, who has served in Congress since 1983. Durbin added that Quinn "started off as a ghost payroller in the Walker administration" before moving on to other posts, including member of the Cook County Board of Tax Appeals, revenue director for Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and state treasurer.
Durbin said Quinn was "carried on the payroll of an agency where he didn't work" while in the employ of Gov. Dan Walker from 1973 to 1975. "I guess he was working in another office," Durbin said. "It could have been the governor's office. I'm not sure."
Quinn denied the charges, accusing Durbin of "smears and name-calling." He said he worked for taxpayers "365 days a year."
That wasn't the first time the charge had been made. When Quinn ran in the 1990 Democratic primary for state treasurer, the (Bloomington, IL) Pantograph provided background on the ghost payroller allegation in a March article:
The charges of Quinn being a "ghost payroller" originally surfaced in 1976. At that time, Melvin Rosenbloom, former head of the Illinois Industrial Commission, told a House committee that Quinn was employed by the commission but didn't work full time.
Quinn denied the allegation and said he was never interviewed about the alleged improprieties. Rosenbloom's testimony was tinged by a personal grudge, he said.
There were additional details in an April, 2002 Chicago Tribune article on the state's "political culture:"
The practice of ghost-payrolling--the hiring of employees who perform little or no governmental work but do political tasks--has been pervasive in Illinois. A decade ago, federal authorities mounted a probe called "Operation Haunted Hall" to exorcise ghost payrollers from city government.
In the 1970s, then Democratic Gov. Dan Walker placed several political operatives in ghost jobs at state commissions. One of them allegedly was self-styled reformer Pat Quinn, now the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. Quinn has long disputed the allegation.
Pat Quinn may or may not have been a ghost payroller. Regardless, it can't reasonably be claimed that his reputation is squeaky clean. Just ask Dick Durbin and other Illinois Democrats.