Monday, May 15, 2006

Interfering with feds?

Why are taxpayers paying for a second probe of hiring irregularities in Rod Blagojevich's administration?

Yesterday, Blagojevich was caught by the press and answered a few questions about the investigations.

The governor's remarks were his first public statements since Friday, when his office announced that it had fired the two employees, Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey, who both used to head CMS' personnel office. CMS is the agency that fills state jobs.

Both employees, who were fired last month, are fighting the dismissals through the Civil Service Commission. Their attorney accuses the governor's office of being among those who sought the favored treatment of certain applicants.

There are many things to scoff at in Blagojevich's statement, including the notion that an isolated and dubious referral to the federal government by his Inspector General shows his administration roots out corruption. Especially since the news media has already reported on numerous federal corruption investigations already underway in his administration that had nothing to do with his IG.

Another funny one was his reference to an "independent" Inspector General when it was not the IG, but his own chief of staff that announced the referral at Friday's deflective press conference.

But what caught my eye most was the administration's contention that a private law firm, paid for by taxpayers, is continuing to examine hiring irregularities even though the matter has already been referred to the feds. And that the feds already are looking at those irregularities in various other Blagojevich agencies.

Blagojevich also said his office handed the case over to the U.S. attorney's office and has hired a private law firm to continue looking for possible hiring irregularities.

Either the private firm is interfering with a federal investigation or it isn't really doing anything except being used as a pr tool by the administration.

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