On Feb. 20, the Legislative Audit Commission held a hearing at the Illinois State Capitol to review the state audit findings of the Business Interruption Grant Program, which allocated $585 million to help small businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Office of the Auditor General’s audit revealed that $11 million was paid out to ineligible participants under the state program as a result of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) decision to use their own eligibility category for the small-business portion of the program instead of what the General Assembly passed.

DECO chose to use the pre-existing Grant Accountability and Transparency Act to justify hiring an outside vendor to delegate the program’s funds, resulting in higher costs.

During the Legislative Audit Commission hearing, Senate Republicans questioned the decision to hire outside community partners to distribute the funds and were particularly critical of the disclosure that one of those outside partners had made a $5,000 campaign donation to former DCEO Assistant Director Michael Negron, who served as one of the lead main grant administrators.

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