Shortly after an Illinois legislator resigned amid speculation about a federal investigation of an AIDS awareness group she was involved in, investigators have filed a subpoena seeking records related to a scholarship named in her honor.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Springfield requested records "to or from" the technology scholarship fund named after former state Rep. Constance Howard or "records of any grants or disbursements awarded to that fund," according to a subpoena dated July 18.
Prosecutors also asked for "notes, minutes of meetings, transcripts of meetings or reports issued by the Computer Technology Committee between 2000 and 2007. Howard chaired the now-disbanded panel during part of that period.
Media outlets, which obtained the records after making open records requests, also obtained from the Illinois House clerk a 2010 subpoena. That document requested a host of information from Howard, including receipts, employee time sheets, contracts and voucher payments, as well as written and electronic communications for a few years ending in 2009.
The subpoenas go beyond the 2009 subpoenas of an AIDS-awareness group -- Let's Talk, Let's Test Foundation -- which Howard co-founded. Since those subpoenas went to state agencies that gave large sums of money to the group, state officials have alleged that the group improperly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on football tickets, staff bonuses and other items.
Howard, who resigned July 6 for what she called "personal reasons," did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press for comment.
The subpoenas came just weeks after Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation that ends legislative scholarships, which had become an embarrassment to lawmakers because of similar federal investigations.
Quinn signed the bill shortly after news that prosecutors subpoenaed records related to awards by a state senator. And in the last year alone about a half dozen lawmakers have been linked to improper or questionable scholarships, giving what are technically tuition waivers to relatives of lobbyists, friends, or to people who live outside their districts.
Among those whose tuition waiver records was subpoenaed was Illinois State Rep. Dan Burke, a Chicago Democrat. A federal grand jury subpoenaed the records after the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the daughter of a Springfield woman who worked for Burke was given a $70,000 tuition waiver to Southern Illinois University.