Records: Congressman put daughter up for her state job
BY CHRIS FUSCO AND TIM NOVAK Staff Reporters
Before he lent her $140,000 to buy an "affordable home," U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez helped his daughter get a government job, according to records kept by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration.
Omaira Figueroa became a consumer counselor for the Illinois Commerce Commission in June 2004, after Blagojevich aides included her in the then-secret hiring database under a spreadsheet labeled "Gutierrez, Luis (CONG-D-4th Dist.)"
"There should be no issues. She should get a letter offering the position in about 2 weeks," according to a note placed in the database the month before the ICC hired her.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling bans politics from factoring in to most state hiring, including the job held by Gutierrez's daughter. But that didn't keep the since-indicted Blagojevich from tracking 386 clout-heavy people who sponsored 5,700 candidates for state jobs, transfers or promotions, according to the records, which list Gutierrez as sponsoring 36 people.
His spokesman, Douglas Rivlin, denied that Gutierrez helped Figueroa get her state job with the Blagojevich administration.
"His daughter had a relationship directly with Gov. Blagojevich, who among other things attended her wedding,'' Rivlin said. "She has previously worked for the governor's father-in-law [Ald. Richard Mell]. The congressman told me he did not write a recommendation or suggest to the governor that his daughter be hired at the Commerce Commission job but recalls recommending her to Mell for her job with him originally."
Figueroa, 30, worked part-time for then-26th Ward Ald. Billy Ocasio about 10 years ago, before she became a legislative aide to Mell and then an assistant sergeant-at-arms for the City Council -- a job she held before joining the ICC, where she makes $59,016 a year.
At the time she bought her affordable home, in 2008, she was making $55,620.
Her husband, Ecliserio Figueroa, got a city job in July 2003 -- about two months after she gave birth to their son. He makes $42,456 a year as a clerk for the Aviation Department. In 2008, he made $38,208.