CHICAGO — More than two months after Governor Bruce Rauner’s general counsel suddenly left state employment, the governor’s office has refused to shed light on the circumstances surrounding his departure.
Now two state lawmakers — including one from Rauner’s own party — are calling for the governor to explain what happened.
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Since August, administration officials, including a former chief of staff and four separate communications officials, have steadfastly refused to answer any questions posed by POLITICO — including whether Dennis Murashko resigned, whether he was fired and if the governor’s office reviewed allegations tied to the former counsel.
State Rep. David McSweeney, a Republican, is calling on Rauner to give a full accounting of the former counsel’s exit, including revealing the contents of an ethics memo Murashko penned before departing. POLITICO first reported on the memo in September.
“I think that the governor should tell everybody exactly what happened around the departure of Dennis Murashko. I’ve seen reports about potential investigations. Specifically, is the OEIG involved in the investigations?” McSweeney asked, referring to the office of the executive inspector general. “Did Dennis Murashko write a memo before he left that made recommendations or made allegations about improper activity, and if so, that memo should be released.”
State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, a Democrat, called the governor’s silence on the issue “outrageous.”
“I think it’s time that we find out what’s been going on in all branches of government to try to fix this,” she said. “[Murashko] was escorted out of the building. Why wouldn’t the governor tell us what happened? What is he hiding? I think the public is demanding the truth from all branches of government — they’re sick of secrets and lies.”
The lawmakers’ comments come amid a firestorm of allegations of personal misconduct rocking state governments across the country.
“I think it’s absolutely important we have full transparency on all levels of government,” McSweeney said.
The governor’s office has refused to answer questions posed by POLITICO about any allegations made against — or made by — Murashko and whether the governor’s office investigated any of the claims.
In addition, the governor’s Freedom of Information division has not responded to requests for Murashko’s resignation letter and a copy of an ethics memo. After initially asking POLITICO to narrow the dates of a request more than a month ago, the office has failed to respond to subsequent inquiries.
POLITICO first reported on Murashko’s departure Sept. 5, including that Murashko was the subject of a complaint alleging he had misused the powers of his office, sources with direct knowledge of the accusations told POLITICO.
According to current and former government employees who spoke with POLITICO on the condition of anonymity, Murashko faced a complaint accusing him of using his position to dole out plum duties to someone with whom he had a personal relationship. Anyone can file a complaint with OEIG, and the office, led by former federal prosecutor Maggie Hickey, will not confirm or deny that a complaint had been filed or whether an investigation was underway.
Murashko has denied the series of allegations in strong terms, saying it “has zero truth to it.”
“I’ve never been made aware of any OEIG investigation, nor have I done anything to warrant an investigation or even a complaint about my service in state government,” Murashko said to POLITICO in a statement.