POLITICS
07/19/2014 11:02 am ET Updated Jul 21, 2014

Illinois Lawmaker Denies Making The Least Subtle Patronage Request Ever

Patronage requests are usually made quietly, perhaps in a smoke-filled back room, but one Illinois Republican appears to have brought sunlight to the process on Monday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

After a bill signing, Illinois state comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R), mentioned to governor Pat Quinn that her son wanted to teach at Southern Illinois University, apparently unaware that her microphone was still on.

It's difficult to determine what exactly Topinka whispered in Quinn's ear after the signing, but she can clearly be heard saying "...get my son to SIU, he wants to teach." She then reassured the governor that "he's got the qualifications to teach," before repeating the name of the school and slapping the governor on the shoulder. In response, Quinn only told Topinka, "I know him too."

Brad Hahn, a Topinka spokesperson, denied that the comptroller made any kind of request.

"She's excited about the possibility of he and his family moving back, and nothing more," Hahn told The Huffington Post. "She loves to talk about her son, if you were here right now, she'd talk to you about it."

According to the Sun-Times, Quinn is not working to get Topinka's son, an Afghanistan veteran, a job at the school.

“The governor didn’t hear all of what she said. He said that she mentioned her son and SIU, but it was loud, and he couldn’t make out what she was talking about,” said Katie Hickey, a Quinn spokesperson, in a statement to HuffPost. Hickey added that the governor's office had followed up with Topinka to determine what she was talking about, but had never heard back.

Both Quinn and Topinka are running for reelection this fall. Quinn, who has tried to maintain a reputation as an anti-corruption reformer; a now-shuttered anti-violence program he launched is under investigation by the Department of Justice and Illinois lawmakers are trying to determine whether he misused funds designated for an anti-violence program for political purposes.

Watch the interaction in the video above.

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story indicated that Quinn himself is under investigation by the DoJ; rather, the investigation is into a state program.

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