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Resource ID: #28153
Subject: Government
Source: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.)
Affiliation: 
Date: January - December 2018

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Description

The Illinois tollway, governed by a nonelected board of political appointees, is the only option to get around the Chicago region for millions of drivers who spend $1.3 billion annually to use the system. While hardworking customers paid tolls, tollway executives and board directors were quietly hiring political insiders for high-paying jobs, handing lucrative contracts to firms where their relatives worked, and weakening bylaws to water down the tollway board's conflict-of-interest rules. As the Daily Herald exposed nepotism, patronage and excessive spending at the tollway, the agency's leaders fought back. Tactics included denying FOIAs, concealing information and accusing the newspaper of harassment. The Daily Herald's investigation caught the attention of other media, two governors and state lawmakers who ultimately fired the tollway board of directors in early 2019. Legislators credited the Herald's investigative series with alerting the public about what Gov. J.B. Pritzker referred to “unethical behavior.”

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