Out of $7.2 million worth of legal work for Blagojevich, his office
paid less than $22,000, according to a report by Auditor General
William Holland. The rest was charged to an array of state agencies
that had no apparent connection to the legal services.
also criticized Blagojevich for hiring outside lawyers at hundreds
of dollars an hour instead of using the attorney general's office
and for not seeking competitive bids on the legal services.
In some cases, Blagojevich's office hired outside counsel without
proper approval, auditors found. Lawyers wound up representing the
governor even though they hadn't been cleared to work for the state
-- or even licensed to practice law.
Blagojevich spokesmen did not return messages seeking comment.
The auditor urged Blagojevich's replacement, Gov. Pat Quinn, to
fully document any decision to hire lawyers without competitive
bidding and to explain why any charges are passed along to other
agencies. Quinn's office agreed, saying it is working with the
attorney general whenever possible and "has made the use of outside
counsel the option of last resort."
The legal work in question involves the governor's office, not
Blagojevich personally. The Chicago Democrat was impeached and
removed from office in January 2009 after being arrested on an array
of federal corruption charges.
The audit found $7.2 million worth of contracts for legal
services from July 2007 through June 2009, but virtually all the
costs were passed on to other state agencies, auditors found.
For instance, $300,000 for legal work on impeachment memos and
the governor's ability to call special legislative sessions was
divided among eight agencies, including the state police and
Department of Children and Family Services.
The agencies also paid for legal work related to depositions by
Blagojevich's staff and his appointment of a U.S. senator to replace
Barack Obama, auditors found.
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Much of the state's legal work is supposed to be handled by Attorney
General Lisa Madigan, but Blagojevich preferred to go around
Madigan, a potential rival and daughter of Blagojevich's chief
legislative foe, House Speaker Michael Madigan.
often hired outside attorneys, paying anywhere from $75 to $425 an
hour, auditors found.
To work for the state, outside lawyers must be declared special
assistant attorneys general, but the governor's office often hired
them before that designation was officially made. In some cases,
attorneys were denied that status but represented Blagojevich
Auditors also found that for 21 percent of the contracts, the law
firms submitted bills for work done by people who weren't licensed
to practice law.
The audit found that Blagojevich could have awarded the contracts
based on competitive bidding but didn't. In addition, there was no
procedure for monitoring the work done by the chosen law firms.
Nearly $170,000 was paid, even though firms didn't submit
detailed bills explaining what work they had done, auditors said.
By CHRISTOPHER WILLS]
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