VILLA PARK-A new report from WBEZ confirms Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Administration withheld information that could have saved lives at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy, and State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is calling for a criminal inquiry.
“This report confirms that the governor’s office deliberately delayed notifying families and the public of a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak,” Cullerton said. “This goes beyond negligence. This is willful endangerment of a vulnerable population that it is our sacred duty to protect. This is criminal neglect.”
Legionnaires’ disease claimed the lives of 14 veterans or their spouses at the Quincy home and sickened nearly 70 residents and staff. Now, state records show that Rauner’s administration waited weeks – and in some cases months – in 2016 and 2017 to publicly acknowledge additional cases of Legionnaires’ disease.
“Gov. Bruce Rauner prioritized political games over the lives of our U.S. service men and women and staff at the state-run veterans’ home,” Cullerton said.
Cullerton is urging the Illinois Attorney General’s office to consider criminal charges against Gov. Rauner and any other officials directly involved in the decisions to conceal the truth.
“If residents, loved ones and staff had all of the facts better decisions could have been made that would have saved lives,” Cullerton said. “The governor and his administration need to be held accountable.”
There is precedent for such charges. In Michigan, Attorney General Bill Schuette brought charges against high-ranking state and former city of Flint health officials related to the Flint drinking water crisis. Cullerton believes similar charges should be considered in Illinois.
“We need to find out how many more deaths were caused by exposure to Legionnaires’ disease at the veterans home. We need a larger investigation to further examine their criminal negligence,” he said.
Cullerton served in the Army from 1990 to 1993 as an infantryman and has been a staunch advocate for Illinois’ veterans, especially those at the Quincy home.
“The state of Illinois has failed to give the veterans at the home the same basic dignity they put their lives on the line to protect for all of us,” Cullerton said. “There has to be some accountability for those that willfully endanger the heroes under our care to save political face.”
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October 3, 2018 at 11:33AM