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HomeIllinois NewsCollege admissions scandal hit Illinois ten years ago

College admissions scandal hit Illinois ten years ago




CHICAGO – Remember how shocked and appalled Americans were when they found out Hollywood's elite got their kids into premiere universities with the help of an agent they paid to maneuver the elite's kids into coveted spots? Two of those well-intentioned moms faced jail time for defrauding the universities and cheating other well-deserving students from the limited number of admission openings. 

The same thing had been going on for a while in Illinois, and the powerful head of the Illinois Democrat Party and longtime Speaker of the Illinois House was listed as "sponsor" for more than two dozen Democrat Party donors intent on getting their relatives into the University of Illinois, so the Chicago Tribune reported in 2010. 

Speaker Madigan, however, faced no discipline – while the scandal led to the resignations of highest-ranking university officials, including the president, chancellor and trustees.  

The Chicago Tribune  reported a story back in 2010 entitled, "Madigan swayed U. of I. to admit relatives of allies, donors":

Now, the Tribune has been able to identify 28 applicants to the Urbana- Champaign or Chicago campuses backed by Madigan, 23 of whom were accepted for undergraduate studies as well as the law school and graduate programs.

Their relatives made direct campaign contributions totaling $50,000 to Madigan and $65,200 in federal and state donations to the Democratic Party of Illinois, which Madigan chairs. In addition, applicants' relatives sat on the boards of organizations when the groups' political action committees donated another $36,700 to those funds.

The speaker's daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, also received $49,245 from those same individuals and PACs.

Combined, the donations totaled $201,145.

The Springfield Journal-Register reported in May 2010 that Madigan's intervention on behalf of the students was conveyed to admissions officials via university lobbyists. Madigan's clout "helped" applicants in a variety of ways: "The university reversed 10 denials or probable denials. It allowed four students to appeal, an unadvertised option given to rejected students with powerful patrons. Madigan’s office also inquired about seven students who were on wait lists, all of whom were eventually admitted," the SJR story revealed. 

And when the Speaker and other lawmakers were asked to come before a commission investigating the admissions scandal, he and they simply "declined to testify." The 2009 Commission, appointed by then-Governor Pat Quinn, concluded that the university's top officials were the most culpable, because they should have refused the lawmakers' requests.

The question was raised by observers as to the repercussions the U of I  would have face if the officials had refused or even shrugged off Speaker Madigan's "requests." The university is dependent on state funding controlled by the Speaker's office.

The separate commission suggested by the 2009 panel that Gov Quinn and or the legislature should establish to "look into possible misconduct by Madigan" and others never came to fruition.

Read more about the Tribune's 2010 admissions discovery HERE.  


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