An attorney representing Gov. Pat Quinn's administration publicly acknowledged Tuesday an ongoing investigation by Illinois' inspector general of hiring practices under the one-term Democrat.
The topic came up at a status hearing in a civil case in front of the U.S. District Court in Chicago. Attorney Michael Shakman asked in a motion last week for an investigation into Quinn's hiring practices.
Quinn's office has said it has "zero tolerance" for violations of hiring procedures.
The scrutiny has arisen at a politically inopportune time for Quinn, who is in a tight gubernatorial race against Republican candidate Bruce Rauner.
Shakman, who spearheaded a decades-long court case leading to bans on political hiring, cited in his filing a Better Government Association report that said Illinois' Department of Transportation skirted rules in filling hundreds of positions.
At one point during Tuesday's brief hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier asked Quinn administration attorney Brent Stratton whether court documents alluding to an inspector general's investigation were accurate.
"That's our understanding that's correct," Stratton responded. "It is our understanding there is an ongoing investigation."
Schenkier said he would like to know the status of the watchdog agency's probe, though he said the inspector general should be given assurances the governor's office was not trying to "intrude" by seeking to learn where the investigation stood.
The inspector general's office typically does not acknowledge ongoing investigations, and spokesman David Keahl declined to comment Tuesday.
Schenkier gave Quinn until June 6 to respond to Shakman's motion. The next status hearing is June 17.