CAIRO — Gov. Bruce Rauner said the allegations made to his office against his one-time nominee to chair the board of Illinois’ housing finance agency that resulting him pulling the nomination of Joseph Galvan in the spring of 2016 “seemed very serious and credible.”
But of Housing and Urban Development’s decision to name Galvan the regional administrator of the HUD Midwest Regional Office, charged with oversight in six states, including Illinois, Rauner said he “believes in the American system of justice where you’re innocent until proven guilty.” Rauner noted that the allegations shared with his office were forwarded to Illinois’ Executive Office of Inspector General, and in the 18 months since, no further information has been shared publicly about the matter.
A spokesman for the state's Executive Office Inspector General has not returned a phone call to the newspaper seeking comment. HUD also has declined to comment on the circumstances that resulted in Galvan's nomination being pulled for chairman of the IHDA board. On Monday, HUD spokesman Jereon Brown also said the agency declines comments on Rauner's remarks in Cairo on Saturday about Galvan.
The governor appointed Galvan to chair the board of the Illinois Housing Development Authority in May 2015. Just shy of a year later, before the nomination was confirmed by the Senate, Rauner’s administration ousted Galvan from the post he held awaiting Senate confirmation, and rescinded his nomination.
The decision came after the administration received an anonymous letter, claimed to be written by a longtime developer, alleging that Galvan had engaged in misconduct related to his post as IHDA chairman, according to a March 2016 Chicago Sun-Times article authored by the Better Government Association’s Casey Toner titled "Rauner ousts clout-heavy board chair after anonymous allegations."
Last week, in a news release, HUD announced President Donald Trump’s appointment of Galvan, who is one of 10 HUD regional administrators across the country. The Region V Midwest Regional Office headquartered in Chicago oversees the administration of HUD programs in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
According to the Better Government Association/Sun-Times article, the anonymous letter was sent to the Better Government Association, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog organization, and to the governor’s office. The article quoted then-Rauner spokesman Lance Trover as saying, in an emailed statement, that the office reviewed the accusations and “out of an abundance of caution” withdrew Galvan’s nomination and forwarded the information to Illinois’ Office of Executive Inspector General.
In Cairo on Saturday, Rauner sat down for an interview with The Southern Illinoisan for a discussion on a number of topics, including the housing crisis in Cairo, concerns about economic and affordable housing challenges facing the region, and the oversight of housing authorities in Illinois.
Below is Rauner’s full comment concerning his decision to pull Galvan's nomination to the state post in early 2016, and his thoughts on HUD’s decision to hire him to a top administrative position within the federal housing agency.
“So here’s the background of what I can say publicly. Joe Galvan is someone we knew and we recommended him; we nominated him for a position.
"While that nomination was underway, there were some allegations made against him that seemed very serious and credible. So our administration became concerned; so we withdrew his nomination and we forwarded the allegations to the inspector general.
"The inspector general has had the — and again, they don’t tell us what they’re doing — but they’ve had it for 18 months. There have been no findings of any wrongdoing on his part that has been brought forth. And so, HUD was comfortable, they made their own analysis and conclusion that they were comfortable with him working for them, because he does have expertise, there’s no question.
"All we know of is of an allegation. And so, there’s a process. We advocated for the process. And there’s been no finding of wrongdoing ever brought forth. So, you know what, I do believe (in) an American system of justice where you’re innocent until proven guilty and no one should be guilty until proven innocent. We were uncomfortable.
"There’s a difference between terminating someone or whatever, versus (rescinding) a nomination. We wanted to be cautious and be prudent, and when an allegation, a serious allegation comes out about someone, maybe a nomination should be delayed. I think that was a prudent thing to do.”