In a questionable move today, the Illinois Senate Executive Appointments Committee voted in a 7 to 2 margin to reappoint the embattled director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, but not before stacking the deck and replacing committee members.
While the reappointment of S.A. “Tony” Godinez was sent down from Gov. Pat Quinn nearly a year ago, committee chairman Anthony “Tony” Munoz failed until Friday to schedule a hearing on Godinez, putting it on the schedule for this morning in Chicago.
With today’s scheduled hearing landing the day before the primary election, and being held in Chicago rather than Springfield, a number of the committee’s members were unable to attend. They were ultimately replaced with other senators who just so happened to be present for the committee hearing.
Only two minority members of the committee, senators Sam McCann and Tim Bivins, were able to attend. Both men voted no for the retention of Godinez. Senator Dave Luechtefeld of Okawville was not present, and Senator Kirk Dillard, a gubernatorial candidate, was on the campaign trail, pushing for votes on the last day before Tuesday election.
Of the majority committee members, Democratic senators Andy Manar, Mike Jacobs and Dave Koehler also were not present. While the hearing was not held during regular Senate session hours or in Springfield, committee chairman Munoz managed to have other senators on hand to step in and fill those vacancies, casting votes in favor of retention. The only two votes cast against retention came from McCann and Bivins.
Bivins, the ranking Republican on the panel, questioned why the head of one of Illinois’ largest agencies would be confirmed in such a “peculiar” manner.
“I’m not suggesting that any laws were broken,” said Bivins, R-Dixon. “But I think having this meeting held today in this manner creates an appearance.”
Senator Dillard called the move a “sham and a shame,” saying the Democrats deliberately scheduled the hearing when opposing members would be off campaigning the day before the election.
Dillard also noted that the floor vote in the full senate to confirm godinez’ reappointment has been scheduled for Wednesday, when senators such as himself and senator Bill Brady, also running for the Republican nomination for governor, are scheduled to appear at a unity meeting. Attendance in the General Assembly is usually scant the day after election, with many lawmakers remaining in their home districts after the polls close.