A day after word of a federal probe into Gov. Pat Quinn's 2010 anti-violence program surfaced, he made the rounds at several Chicago televisions stations Friday to defend his actions and contend he swiftly corrected problems.
The Chicago Democrat, who faces a tough re-election in November, spent much of the week in Springfield where legislators were in session. Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said the governor made the five-station Chicago tour to be "accountable."
The U.S. Department of Justice has asked for information pertaining to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative Program, which Quinn started in 2010 to help fight city violence. However a state audit earlier this year detailed numerous problems, including questions about mismanagement and expenditures. Since then the Cook County state's attorney's office has subpoenaed records and federal investigators asked the Illinois comptroller, who pays the state's bills, for information.
Quinn maintained he moved quickly, ahead of the audit.
"I saw problems in the Neighborhood Recovery Program to fight violence, and we shut it down and abolished the agency which was overseeing it," Quinn told WMAQ-TV. "I think it's important to fight violence, but there were problems, and my job as governor is to identify the problems, get to the root of them and straighten it out."
The timing for Quinn hasn't been good.
His Department of Transportation is also the subject of a federal complaint alleging wrongful hiring and the both probes have been fodder for his Republican gubernatorial challenger, Bruce Rauner.
Rauner, a Winnetka venture capitalist, has likened Quinn to his imprisoned predecessor, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, including at an appearance in Springfield this week. But Quinn's campaign says the governor has fought against corruption and has a reputation of integrity.
Though Quinn's office hasn't been directly contacted by federal prosecutors about the anti-violence program, Anderson said the administration would cooperate.
"We welcome any inquiry by any law enforcement agency," she said.