051915 js 0211.resizeSPRINGFIELD- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) has launched a formal investigation into the corrupt Springfield warehouse the Department of Human Services and Central Management Services leased to store state file.

Cullerton passed House Joint Resolution 63 today, which will require the Auditor General to conduct an audit of the irresponsible contract negotiated by DHS to rent the former Barney’s warehouse for $2.4 million for five years that could have been bought for $750,000.

His measure will also stop the signing and finalizing of any lease by Governor Rauner’s agency heads until the audit is completed.

“It’s judgement day,” Cullerton said. “Illinois taxpayers should soon know the truth behind this corrupt leasing deal.”

House Joint Resolution 63 outlines questions Cullerton wants answered by the audit.

Here are a few of his questions:

  • The justification used to request a new space by DHS including the condition of the previous location used to store the state files, the former Dwight Correctional Center and whether if renovations were considered to the prison prior to moving the files
  • If CMS compared the cost of digitizing records instead of storing hard paper copies.
  • If CMS explored the possibility of using another state-owned or leased space before they made the decision to enter into a new lease 
  • If there was a cost-benefit analysis conducted by CMS of purchasing the building instead of leasing the warehouse and if there were costs incurred by DHS for remodeling the building to adapt to DHS’ use of the warehouse 
  • And the role of the procurement board, the body who reviewed the contract, and whether any members excused themselves due to a conflict of interest because of their relationship any owner of with the leasing company

The former Barney’s Furniture building is being leased from Chicago-based Climate Controlled Holdings LLC, which bought the building when Barney’s relocated. One of the owners of the company is William Cellini’s son-in-law.
Cellini, a politically connected businessman, served a time in prison after his conviction in 2011 of a failed attempt to shake down Oscar-winning film producer Thomas Rosenberg for a $1.5 million contribution to the campaign of currently imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The records were moved from the closed prison which had little to no cost to taxpayers. Rauner’s administration had said that the prison building was in disrepair and the paperwork needed to be moved. But the state’s prison director told members of an Illinois Senate committee last month that he had no knowledge of this. He said he would try to get some answers.

Cullerton is outraged that as the state budget impasse continues, the administration is able to find time to cut sweetheart deals for political insiders.

“Governor Rauner has been busy cutting sweetheart deals for his insider friends instead of working with the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget to ensure our schools open their doors this fall, rape crisis centers are able to provide services and programs remain in place to help our seniors, disabled populations and veterans.”

Cullerton and Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) were successful in their joint effort to request the Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office to hold rent payments for warehouse space until the legislature is able to further review the contract.

“I’m here to send a strong message to Governor Rauner and his friends: the people of Illinois are not here to be pawns in your political games,” Cullerton said. “I refuse to stay quiet as you attempt to suck our state dry.”

House Joint Resolution 63 passed the Senate and House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The Auditor General can begin his investigation immediately. After the report is completed, it will be released to the General Assembly for Cullerton to examine and determine whether further legislative action will be needed.

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