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Blagojevich Administration Siphoned $33.6 Million From Illinois Tollway

By Chris Bentley in News on Mar 23, 2012 3:30PM

Photo Credit: Chicajoan

Now that Rod Blagojevich is in the big house, we’re learning all kinds of things from those close to his administration. Rod’s barber threw him under the bus, revealing that the famously coiffed ex-governor dyes his hair. Sadly in Illinois we’re equally nonplussed by the revelation that $33.6 million in tollway funding illegally wound up in state coffers between 2003 and 2006.

In his quarterly report to the Highway Authority board Thursday, Tollway Inspector General James Wagner said more than $33 million in tollway funding was diverted to the state’s general revenue fund at the direction of Blagojevich’s administration. By law that funding is supposed to help the Tollway pay bonds and maintain highways.

Wagner said another $10.5 million was scheduled to be shifted in 2007, but state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka blocked the illegal transfer.

As governor, Blagojevich is known to have diverted funds for his own spending priorities. But Wagner’s accounting is the first public toll of just how much money was shifted from highway authority coffers.

The inspector general also reported on 11 employee investigations, including four cases where tollway employees lied about emergency vehicles using their booths and pocketed the tolls, totaling $3,421.

Meanwhile the Tollway approved $70 million for construction and project management services Thursday. Executive Director Kristi Lafleur denounced the Blagojevich-era transfers and said today’s tollway would play by the rules.