SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- The Acting Inspector General for the Department of Human Services spoke with Illinois Representatives Tuesday about his recent report regarding the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home.
Peter Neumer explained Gov. Pritzker called for the investigation to figure out what led to the deaths of 36 veterans. Rep. David Welter (R-Morris) asked if the Governor’s Office put any pressure on the Inspector General’s Office during the investigation.
However, Neumer stressed the Pritzker administration didn’t have any direct influence on the investigation.
“Again, I know you are hired or technically hired by the Governor,” said Welter. “I’m sure he didn’t want any negative light on his actual administration. But, quite frankly, I think it’s unacceptable that they weren’t looked at as well.”
“I think we did that successfully, but time will tell”
Neumer explained his team interviewed employees from the LaSalle facility as well as administration within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Public Health. Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora) asked if they double checked sources before adding their testimony to the report.
Yet, Neumer explained if three or more people said similar things during interviews, his office considered that an important finding.
“We did not wanna be in a position where we issued our report only to find out that there was something truly significant that we had missed,” said Neumer. “So we certaintly did outreach to prevent such a situation. And I think, I think, we did that successfully. But, time will tell.”
The Inspector General said he wasn’t comfortable answering a lot of the questions from committee members. He argued he didn’t want to answer questions directed towards the Governor’s Office.
Rep. Dan Swanson (R-Woodhull) emphasized his gratitude for Neumer speaking with the committee Tuesday afternoon.
“You point it out so simply in your report,” said Swanson. “I don’t believe it’s much of a failure on the employees at LaSalle, it’s more of a failure on the leadership that’s reflected in this report.”
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will continue their subject matter hearings on Thursday. They plan to hear from the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, IDPH, and officials from the Governor’s Office.
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