An analysis shows that Gov. Pat Quinn's troubled anti-violence program, which critics have called a "political slush fund," didn't do him much good in his 2010 campaign.
The Chicago Sun-Times, which analyzed the numbers, reported that in Chicago neighborhoods where the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative's $54 million was spent, voter turnout in 2010 was 2 percentage points higher than it was in 2006, when former Gov. Rod Blagojevich ran for governor. That wasn't much different than the 1.9 percentage point increase in voter turnout for the same period in neighborhoods that did not receive such funding.
The difference was a bit more pronounced in the suburbs. The paper found that voter turnout improved in areas that got NRI money by 3.8 percentage points, compared to a 1.8 percentage point increase in suburban areas that didn't get any NRI money.
The program has become a focal point in this year's gubernatorial campaign. Fighting to maintain his image as a reformer who cleaned up state government, Quinn has been dogged by questions about the program.
He has denied he used to program to secure votes, but his Republican challenger, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, has pointed to the program as an example of what he calls a culture of corruption that Quinn commands.
Quinn campaign spokeswoman Brooke Anderson suggested the analysis confirms what she calls a "ludicrous suggestion" that Quinn used the program for political gain.
"Everyone knows, including Bruce Rauner, that the program was launched to combat violence, and it's sad that his cynicism and desperation to be governor would cause him to suggest anything otherwise," she said.
The Rauner campaign, while not directly addressing the newspaper's findings, said serious questions about the program remain.
"The only thing we know for sure about the NRI program is that it is the subject of a federal criminal investigation, taxpayer money was badly used, some high-crime neighborhoods were mysteriously ignored and violent crime is still a major problem in Chicago," said campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf.