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updated: 9/8/2014 8:26 PM

Attorney general denies conflict in anti-violence probe

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Associated Press

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Monday defended her right to give legal advice to state lawmakers conducting a probe into a troubled Chicago anti-violence program that was overseen by Gov. Pat Quinn's administration.

Madigan's role has been questioned by Paul Schimpf, a Republican attorney running against the three-term Democrat in the November election. His campaign has argued that she faces a conflict of interest because a member of her staff served as co-chair of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority Board, which oversaw the agency that distributed $54.5 million for the 2010 program.

Schimpf says Madigan should recuse herself from giving legal advice to members of the Legislative Audit Commission, which is investigating irregularities in the program.

But Madigan denied she has a conflict. She said it was her duty to help in state legal matters.

"There is no problem there," she said after an unrelated news conference. "As the Attorney General, I am the lawyer for the state. Every single day we're giving legal advice to local, county, state, even federal government and elected officials -- Republicans and Democrats. ... That is the job."

Madigan's office was asked for advice by the legislative panel's co-chair, Republican state Sen. Jason Barickman, about whether the governor's office can legally withhold emails regarding the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. The program also is being scrutinized by federal prosecutors and the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Schimpf was not immediately available to respond to Madigan's comments.

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