Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs released an audit after his first 100 days in office, and it reveals issues with internship hiring that favored those with political connections.
The audit was an independent review of the state treasurer's office by Plante Moran -- something he promised after becoming Illinois's chief investment officer in January. It highlighted a paid internship program under previous treasurer Dan Rutherford that gave positions to young people with political connections to influential politicians, campaign donors and lobbyists. the program had no formal procedures for how the interns were recruited or managed.
When Rutherford originally took office in 2011, there were eight interns. That number grew to 58 in 2013 when he launched a failed campaign for governor. In 2012, the treasurer's office paid $158,504 to pay 51 interns. The next year, it grew to $170,936 for 58 interns.
Frerichs says he has discontinued offering a large, paid internship program.
The audit also found that a scholarship framework funded by fees from the office's college savings program doesn't have basic management rules. Frerichs' office says 300 scholarships averaging $1,000 were awarded after 2006 without proper record-keeping, management and distribution.
Frerichs has implemented an "Employee Bill of Rights" which details bans on an officeholder requiring employees to do campaign work on state time, which is already illegal, and also outlines ways workers can report abuse if they feel pressured to do political work.