SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn and a candidate for state treasurer moved Thursday to distance themselves from a former top state coal mine regulator who took campaign contributions from one of the coal companies he was supposed to be monitoring.
In a move announced by his campaign, Quinn purged his campaign fund of the $5,000 he had received from the Douglas County Democratic Party, which is headed by Michael J. Woods Sr. of Tuscola.
Treasurer candidate Mike Frerichs, a Democratic state senator from Champaign, announced he was shedding $250 he received from the Douglas County party.
Woods resigned Wednesday from his job with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, or DNR. DNR brass had reassigned him after it was learned his political committee had received $14,000 from Foresight Energy Services of St. Louis, which operates four mines in Illinois.
"Immediately upon learning today of previous donations from this entity and their connection to a state employee, the governor directed that these funds be donated to worthy charities across Illinois," Quinn's campaign said in a prepared statement.
The announcement came just days after the Illinois Republican Party called on Quinn and Frerichs to return cash they received from Woods' organization.
"After all the damage that's been done to our state's reputation on ethics, you'd think Gov. Quinn and Sen. Frerichs would know better," GOP spokesman Andrew Welhouse said in a prepared statement.
In addition to Woods' reassignment and subsequent resignation, Tony Mayville of Du Bois, a candidate for the Illinois House who also is Washington County Democratic chairman, went on unpaid leave in mid-February after it was learned he took $2,000 from Foresight while he was a top DNR mine regulator.
Mayville notified the state Board of Elections that the Foresight money was inadvertently deposited in his campaign's bank account instead of the party account.
Foresight has spread millions of dollars to Illinois politicians in recent years. An analysis of campaign finance records by a University of Illinois-Springfield political scientist found Foresight was No. 21 on the list of top contributors during the 2012 election cycle.
Quinn donated a total of $2,000 each to the Trooper Douglas Balder Benefit Fund, the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund, the Chicago Urban League and the Illinois Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
"This exceeds the total contributed by the Douglas County Democrats," a statement from his campaign noted.
Frerichs donated his money to a central Illinois food bank.