ByLuke Rosiak•Jul 21, 2022 

The office of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker arranged to have the state secretly pay a former campaign aide who had been fired from her government job for stealing after she threatened to use her connections to get out of trouble, a state official claimed in a newly unsealed legal filing.

The state attorney general filed to dismiss the whistleblower’s lawsuit, which would mean allegations of improper political influence will not be probed. But the now-public allegations tell a disturbing tale of corruption and patronage in the Land of Lincoln.

Jenny Thornley was the chief financial officer and director of legislative policy for the Illinois State Police Merit Board, an anti-patronage agency which exists to “remove political influence and provide a fair and equitable merit process.” Although she lacked a college degree, she boasted on her resume that she has “been heavily involved with the following IL races at a high level, Cheri Bustos, Tammy Duckworth, Susana Mendoza, JB Pritzker… and many more,” according to court documents. Facebook photos picture her with a who’s who of Democrat elite.

In January 2020, Thornley’s boss, Jack Garcia, wrote to the Merit Board’s chairman that he had caught Thornley forging his signature to pad her salary with overtime, according to court documents. Then-Program Administrator Emily Fox — who is now the Merit Board’s executive director and who filed the lawsuit — said, for example, that Thornley billed for 32.5 hours in overtime in September 2019 even though camera footage showed that not only did she not work overtime, but she frequently left during regular hours.

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