(Springfield, IL) – April 26, 2010. State Senator Dan Rutherford (R-Chenoa), GOP candidate for Illinois Treasurer, last week charged Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and his chief of staff, Robin Kelly, are using the belated launch of a state task for “political benefit”.
“To convene a good purposed task force, two years late, hold taxpayer funded public hearings throughout Illinois during the election cycle with both Treasurer Giannoulias and his Chief of Staff Robin Kelly on the ballot leads one to conclude that the timing is intended for political benefit to those candidates,” said Rutherford.
On April 20, 2010, the task force, originally approved in 2007, got off the ground with a kick-off press conference conducted by Kelly, who is the Democratic candidate for State Treasurer.
In 2007, the legislature created the Children’s Savings Account Task Force to encourage children to establish savings accounts, tasking the State Treasurer with the coordination of task force appointments and logistics. The Treasurer was to have presented all task force reports to the Governor and the General Assembly by November 1, 2008.
Those statutory deadlines were missed and, in 2009, lawmakers extended the deadline for the reports to be presented in 2010, but those deadlines were missed, too.
“I support the goal of the task force and was even a co-sponsor of the legislation to allow the State Treasurer an extra year to complete the work,” said Rutherford. “Seeing the Treasurer has missed the second deadline tells me it was not a priority for him or his administration until it became politically advantageous.”
Giannoulias spokesmen Scott Burnham, however, dismissed Rutherford charges, noting that former Governor Rod Blagojevich failed to make the necessary task force appointments to get the panel up and running.
“The Children’s Savings Account Task Force was created through legislation passed by State Sen. Jackie Collins and State Rep. Marlow Colvin and implemented this year after lawmakers appointed members, who all serve as volunteers. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich made just one of eight gubernatorial appointments before leaving office and Gov. Pat Quinn made the rest this year.”
Still, Rutherford laid the responsibility for the delay on Giannoulias’ door-step because the coordination of appointments was his.
“The Treasurer’s Office waited 3 years to initiate the task force. Are they now saying it was because they had no appointments? It was their initiative. They had responsibility to coordinate the appointments,” said Rutherford.
Burnham said however that the actual authority to appoint task force members belonged both to the governor and the four legislator leaders, noting that the Senate Republicans have yet to appoint a member despite repeated requests.
“I would add that all of the appointments have been made except for the one member assigned by the Senate Republicans, the body where Sen. Rutherford serves as minority leader. We have contacted them on numerous occasions”
“I understand an easy excuse is that appointments were not made, but this Legislation was an initiative of the Treasurer, a statutory deadline was set and his office was responsible to coordinate the appointments,” said Rutherford.
The task force will conduct four public hearings statewide through the election season and will issues its report in the fall, before the election.
It’s going to be a long six months, folks.