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State Sen. Kirk Dillard to grill DCFS director on theft conviction

Arthur Bishop (right) then-director Illinois Department Juvenile Justice other Illinois executive branch officials hearing Joliet 2012. | Sun-Times files

Arthur Bishop (right) then-director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, and other Illinois executive branch officials at a hearing in Joliet in 2012. | Sun-Times files

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Updated: March 19, 2014 6:34AM

A Republican candidate for governor said Monday that he plans to use the Senate confirmation process to grill the new director of the Department of Children and Family Services over his theft conviction and a paternity battle in his background.

DCFS director Arthur Bishop pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in 1995 for stealing from clients of a West Side social service agency. He later became embroiled in a 2003 child-support battle over a daughter he said he never knew he had fathered, court records show.

The Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ detailed the court cases in a story Monday.

Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), a candidate in the GOP primary for governor, said he “wants a full accounting” from Bishop when he appears before the Illinois Senate Executive Appointments Committee. Dillard is a member of that panel.

“I intend to ask Mr. Bishop and a representative from the Governor’s office to give a compete explanation for what transpired and answer why Mr. Bishop should lead this agency at such a critical time,” Dillard said.

The governor’s appointees have 60 legislative session days from the date of their appointments to receive Senate confirmation, officials said. Bishop was hired Jan. 24.

Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, stands behind his decision to make Bishop the state’s top child-welfare official. Administration officials lauded Bishop’s 15-year career with DCFS and his leadership of the Department of Juvenile Justice over the past three years.

In the early 1990s, though, Bishop bilked clients of the Bobby Wright Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center of more than $9,200, according to police.

Bishop disclosed his guilty plea every time he was promoted at DCFS, Quinn administration officials said. But they said he wasn’t required to disclose his arrest when he was originally hired by DCFS in 1995. His criminal case was pending at the time.

Frank Main and Chris Fusco are Sun-Times reporters; Tony Arnold is a WBEZ reporter

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