Rauner eliminates Illinois job tied to political hiring

Illinois governor Bruce Rauner.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Illinois governor Bruce Rauner. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has eliminated a state Transportation Department position that he says was central to a patronage hiring scandal stretching back more than a decade.

Rauner’s office said early Monday that abolishing the staff assistant positions at the Illinois Department of Transportation was necessary for “regaining the trust of Illinois taxpayers.” On Sept. 1, Rauner issued layoff notices to the remaining 29 staff assistants. Investigations previously found they were hired based on clout instead of merit. Their last day was Thursday.

A 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling from Illinois bans most political hiring in state government. But hundreds of people were hired into the IDOT posts starting in 2003 under Democratic Govs. Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn.

The state’s inspector general found the politically connected hires should have been based on merit.