In the wake of a controversial lease deal making headlines, the Illinois House approved a measure (HJR 63) State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) sponsored to direct the Auditor General to look into how a politically-connected firm landed a lucrative lease agreement.
The controversy stems from the discovery of a lease agreement for a Springfield property to store Illinois Department of Human Services’ records. IDHS previously stored the records at Dwight Correctional Center. The five-year lease agreement with Climate Controlled Holdings, which is connected to the family of longtime political insider and ex-convict Bill Cellini, is for $2.4 million. The firm purchased the old Barney’s Furniture store in Springfield for $575,000 last January.
“There are many unanswered questions about this lease deal,” McSweeney said
. “Why are we leasing a property for millions when we could have bought the building for substantially less money? Why are we leasing more property when we could be using property already owned by the state? Why are we leasing more property at a time when the state can least afford it? We need answers to these questions.”
Rep. McSweeney introduced House Joint Resolution 63 to direct the Auditor General to look into the matter. While the investigation is being conducted, the Resolution also calls for a halt to any new lease agreements until the audit is concluded. Comptroller Susana Mendoza has agreed to halt warehouse lease payments until the investigation is completed.
McSweeney said taxpayers deserve more than lucrative deals for political insiders.
“It is unbelievable to me that we have so many under the dome in Springfield pushing for a tax increase when so little is being done to protect taxpayers’ money,” McSweeney said
. “The State of Illinois has billions in unpaid bills and no budget agreement in place and our credit rating is nearing junk status. The last thing we should be doing right now is handing out lucrative lease agreements to political insiders. We need answers which is why I am calling for an audit of this lease agreement and why I am calling for a halt to any new lease deals until the audit has been concluded.”
House Joint Resolution 63 passed the House on Sunday by voice vote. The Resolution moves to the Senate for further consideration. Senator Andy Manar is the Chief Senate Sponsor and Senator Tom Cullerton will be the Chief Senate Co-Sponsor.