By John O’Connor
AP Political Writer
SPRINGFIELD — A state purchasing regulator whom Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner now claims is heavily influenced by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan was recommended for the post by the governor’s office, according to an email obtained by The Associated Press on Friday.
Chief Procurement Officer Ellen Daley, who is at the center of a storm over a canceled $12.5 million Rauner administration contract, responded to the criticism Friday, telling The Associated Press: “I am neither influenced nor biased by politics.”
Rauner said Thursday that Daley is under the “heavy influence” of Madigan, who is Rauner’s political rival, after she nixed the sole-source deal Tuesday, declaring that Medicaid consulting assistance to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services from McKinsey & Co. should have been competitively bid.
But in a March 18, 2015, email, Jason Barclay, then Rauner’s general counsel, recommended Daley for the job. Barclay sent the email to Chad Fornoff, executive director of the independent Executive Ethics Commission.
Daley told the AP in an email Friday that state law bars her from political activity.
“I neither seek (from) nor owe political favor to Gov. Rauner, Speaker Madigan, or any other politician,” Daley wrote.
The McKinsey contact is part of a $63 billion program to move 800,000 low-income Medicaid clients into managed care health plans, with assigned physicians and a focus on illness prevention. Democrats have criticized the plan because the Rauner administration did not conduct a strict bidding process.
Daley said Tuesday that the McKinsey deal should have been offered to the lowest and best bidder, too. She nixed the administration’s claim that it was exempt from bids under an exception for lawsuit-preparation assistance.
Rauner spokeswoman Patty Schuh said that the procurement officer “on several occasions — in writing and verbally — confirmed the contract was exempt from the procurement code. What changed?”
Rauner didn’t offer specifics in claiming that Madigan, who is from Chicago and is chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, “controls a lot of the procurement people through his patronage operation.” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown labeled it “empty talk” and Rep. David McSweeney, a Republican from Barrington Hills, demanded Rauner show proof or apologize.
During a stop Friday in Quincy, Rauner laughed and sidestepped a question about McSweeney, saying, “The legislators who work closely with Madigan need to get on the right program.” He added that his administration’s goal for the Medicaid revamp is “to save taxpayers money and to provide high-quality services, high-quality health care at the most affordable rates possible.”
McSweeney was unmoved. In a statement after seeing the Barclay email, he said, “Gov. Rauner needs to immediately apologize to Ellen Daley, members of the General Assembly and most importantly the people of this state for not telling the truth.”