A padded payroll

A padded payroll

Our political leaders can plunder the public treasury in more ways than one.

While the public is contemplating the wholesale violations of merit hiring rules at the Illinois Department of Transportation, they ought to give some thought as well to the abuse of taxpayer dollars by individuals who helped perpetrate the fraudulent hiring.

One of the officials cited in the report by state Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza was former Democratic state Rep. Gary Hannig, a longtime Illinois House member from Litchfield.

Our friends at For the Good of Illinois took a look into Hannig's employment history and came up with some disappointing, but not shocking, numbers. In Illinois politics, nothing qualifies as shocking.

Hannig was able to pump up his public pension when he resigned from the House to become Gov. Pat Quinn's director of the Department of Transportation. While running that agency from 2009 to 2011, he presided over regular violations of state hiring rules to put individuals with political clout into jobs they should not have had.

By the time Hannig left Transportation, he had pumped his public pension up to $130,000 a year, far more than what it would have been but for his brief tenure at Transportation. Then, in January 2012, according to For the Good of Illinois, Hannig took a contract job as Quinn's director of legislative affairs.

Working under a $150,000 contract allowed Hannig to continue to collect his $130,000 pension. All told, that's nearly $300,000 paid to a state employee who, for all practical purposes, never really left the state payroll.

That finding left Adam Andrzejewski of For the Good of Illinois to conclude, "It's no wonder Illinois is broke."

Amen.

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