Gov. Rod Blagojevich took office on a promise to clean up government and end old practices of handing out jobs and contracts as political rewards. But Blagojevich has been dogged by allegations that it was business as usual under the new administration, raising important questions.

Q: Can’t governors hire anyone they want?

A: No. Most state jobs are protected by civil service laws and court rulings that are meant to keep politics out of hiring. The jobs are supposed to go to the best applicants, not the ones with the best political connections. But governors do have a free hand in filling high-level policy jobs, such as managers in state agencies.

Q: Who is raising the possibility of misconduct?

A: U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, for one. He says he’s investigating “very serious allegations” in multiple state agencies. And Blagojevich’s former inspector general found problems in the governor’s personnel office and the Department of Employment Security.

Q: What exactly are the allegations?

A: In a letter to the state attorney general, Fitzgerald mentioned the rigging of state employment practices to allow political hiring, including preparation of fraudulent hiring documents. An inspector general’s report talks about going around laws meant to give military veterans preference in state hiring.

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