Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn today said politics were “absolutely not” involved in his decision to give a high paying appointment to the daughter of an Illinois Supreme Court justice and a powerful Chicago alderman who was a major campaign donor.
The governor defended naming attorney Jennifer Burke to the Illinois Pollution Control Board, saying she is more than qualified for the $117,043-a-year post.
She is the daughter of Justice Anne Burke, who swore Quinn into office, and 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke, chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee. Jennifer Burke, 41, works for the city as an assistant corporation counsel supervisor. As of last month, her annual salary was $99,948.
“I mean, If you look at her qualifications, she’s very, very well qualified,” Quinn said at a bill-signing event. “She’s an environmental lawyer and this is a very sensitive spot.”
Disclosures showed the Friends of Edward M. Burke campaign fund loaned Quinn $200,000 during his campaign for governor and donated more than $52,000 since Justice Burke swore Quinn into office in January 2009 following the ouster of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
But Quinn said his connections to the Burke family and the campaign cash had nothing to do with the appointment.
“I look at everybody, men and women, based on their qualifications, their honesty and their ability,” Quinn said. “There’s no question my appointees meet all those qualifications.”
The Quinn administration said the pollution control position comes with a ban on outside employment, so it would appear Jennifer Burke will leave her city job if confirmed by the Illinois Senate.