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Quinn names ex-U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald as a U. of I. trustee

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald speaks reporters during news conference May 24 2012 Chicago Illinois (Phoby Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald speaks to reporters during a news conference on May 24, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

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Updated: February 19, 2013 3:19PM



Sneed exclusive ...

A top tap . . .

Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the corruption fighter who cleaned up Illinois state government and sent two governors to jail, is now being tapped to take his talent to the University of Illinois.

As Sneed first reported Thursday, Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday appointed Fitzgerald as a trustee at the University of Illinois, which is still reeling from the institution’s 2009 admissions scandal.

◆ Fitzgerald, a mob fighter, terrorist trapper and bagger of big game politicians, has been asked to set his sights on a university plagued by political skullduggery in their student admission program.

◆Stat chat: Now in private practice as a partner at the prestigious law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, Fitzgerald is described as “very passionate about education,” according to an informed source.

◆Backchat: Quinn, who led the charge to abolish the now-extinct legislative scholarship program that was repeatedly marred by allegations of fraud and abuse, has made restoring integrity to the U. of I. board a top priority. He also overhauled the board and nominated highly respected businessman Christopher Kennedy as its chair. Picking Fitzgerald is a classic move: Last July, the U.S. attorney’s office began a criminal investigation into a group of legislative scholarships awarded by now-former State Sen. Annazette Collins — expanding on a federal probe into the already troubled tuition-waiver program.

◆Back shot: The Chicago Sun-Times obtained a copy of a June 1 federal subpoena issued by Fitzgerald’s office that seeks records of the waivers the West Side Democrat handed out during her 11 years as a state representative and senator. Fitzgerald’s investigation came after March 2012 Sun-Times reports calling into question tuition waivers Collins gave to five students who listed her former home as their official residence — even though some had driver’s licenses or voter registrations for addresses outside the district. Under state law, legislative scholarship recipients were required to live in the awarding lawmaker’s district.

◆The irony: Fitzgerald will replace trustee Lawrence Oliver II, who once worked for him as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office. Oliver, who served on Quinn’s Illinois Reform Commission, was told Wednesday afternoon he would not be reappointed. Disappointed at the nix notice, Oliver — one of the first trustees appointed to the board by Quinn in the wake of the admissions scandal — was not told why he was denied a second term. Oliver told the press he suspected it was because he voted in the 2010 Dem primary . . . and by law, only five Dems can be on the board. Oliver was placed on the board as a political independent, which is ostensibly Fitzgerald’s slot.

◆ Hoop scoop: In December, Sneed reported Quinn was spotted taking in a Chicago Bulls game with Fitzgerald. Now I guess we know why.

Bag ’em . . .

While filming “Zero Dark Thirty” in Jordan last year, British actor Ricky S. Sekhon, who portrayed Osama bin Laden, spent so much time being carried around in a body bag — which he equated to being in a hammock — that he became known as Osama bin Loungin,’ he told the New York Times.

Scoopsville II . . .

Sneed has learned Mayor Rahm Emanuel is turning his gun sights on investment bankers who fund the manufacturers of assault weapons.

Emanuel, who has already asked for city pension funds to divest themselves from gun-related holdings, wants to ban the city’s use of investment bankers who fund assault weapon manufacturing.

“It’s akin to the way the city once adopted an ordinance banning city business with firms doing business with South Africa during the era of Apartheid,” a source said.

Watch for Emanuel, who is being honored at the U.S. Conference of Mayors this weekend in Washington, D.C., to make it a national pitch — and urge his peers to do likewise.

Sneedlings . . .

Friday’s birthdays: Kevin Costner, 58; Jason Segel, 33, and James Smith, priceless.



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