Republican candidates for Illinois attorney general have slightly different views on whether there should be an AG investigation into the November 2020 COVID-19 outbreak that killed 36 veterans at a state-run facility.
The previous governor was investigated by then-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan over a fatal legionnaires disease outbreak in 2015 that killed about 13 residents at the Quincy Veterans’ Home.
That investigation transitioned to Kwame Raoul after he was sworn in as Illinois attorney general, but no criminal charges were ever filed. There were millions of dollars from Illinois taxpayers paid to families of the veterans who died in the Quincy home.
Families of victims of the November 2020 LaSalle Veterans Home COVID-19 outbreak are now suing the state and some want an investigation into the current governor.
A recent Illinois Auditor General report said the administration of Gov. J.B. Pritzker didn’t respond to the seriousness of the LaSalle home outbreak.
Republican candidate for attorney general Steve Kim in a statement urged the incumbent to investigate, saying “and anything less than full accountability for those responsible is a disservice to the memory of these veterans”
“This is an egregious failure on the part of the Pritzker Administration and the people of Illinois deserve answers,” Kim said. “36 Veterans fell victim to the slow response of Governor Pritzker’s office, and today I am calling for an investigation from the Attorney General’s office into this delay.”
Pritzker was asked earlier this month if he’s taking responsibility for the outbreak. He said the state agencies under his control are his responsibility.
“But there’s no way that you can see across 50,000-plus people in your government as governor exactly what everyone is doing,” Pritzker said. “That’s why we focused this effort at finding out what happened at this agency.”
Republican AG candidate Steve Shestokas said given the death toll from the outbreak, it’s incumbent on the AG to investigate. He also said Pritzker isn’t the only one to be held accountable.
“It’s a collusion of the legislative leaders, the governor and the AG that resulted in one-person rule without proper oversight of the situation,” Shestokas said.
Republican Thomas DeVore, who has been suing the Pritzker administration for two years over a variety of COVID-19 mandates, said before demanding an investigation, the scope of such a probe must be determined.
“It was apparent early on that our elderly citizens within congregate facilities were the most at risk, but in late 2020 when this tragedy at Lasalle unfolded, our Department of Health was more focused on closing small businesses and isolating school children, all of which wreaked havoc on our economy, as well as harmed our children’s mental health and overall development,” DeVore said in a statement. “All of this suffering by our people was certainly the result of nonfeasance and misfeasance by many public officials, but whether their actions or inactions rise to the level of criminality would require careful consideration of government actors far beyond a handful of officials within the Department of Health.”
DeVore said in his mind, “these public officials are equally as responsible as the Governor and his agencies for all of the tragedies and losses suffered by our people.”
The Republican primary is June 28. Early voting begins Thursday, May 19.
The campaign for incumbent Democratic Attorney General Kawme Raoul didn’t provide a response when asked for comment.
Last week, Pritzker reacted to the suggestion of the need for an investigation.
“I think it’s incredibly hypocritical for people who say they don’t think we should have had any mandates at all related to mitigations of COVID-19,” Pritzker said. “We were trying to keep people healthy and safe in the worst moments of this world-wide pandemic, deadly pandemic. And it was necessary for us to ask people to do the right thing.”
This article was originally posted on GOP attorney general candidates react to deadly LaSalle COVID outbreak audit