Highway chief's number plates gaffe

SPRINGFIELD - The wife of the state's transportation secretary has been driving around central Illinois with her husband's old, no longer valid, state lawmaker number plates.

This week, Betsy Jennings was seen driving around Springfield in a Cadillac bearing the "3" Illinois House number plates.

The number plates and designation had been registered to her husband Gary Jennings when he was a senior member of the Illinois House. But the downstate Democrat was named state transportation secretary by Gov. Pat Quinn earlier this year.

Jennings's wife Betsy was then named to serve out her husband's term in the Illinois House. She's been assigned plate No. 67B. House number plates are assigned based on seniority. The lower the number, the higher ranking the lawmaker and vice versa.

"Yes I drove the Cadillac from Second Street to here today, I did not drive all the way from Gillespie," Betsy Jennings said Tuesday, referring to her home, which is nearly an hour south of Springfield.

When asked if she knew the "3" number plates were no longer valid, she said they had requested new number plates from the Illinois Secretary of State's Office but hadn't received them yet.

The secretary of state's office said it notified Gary Jennings after he left his position three months ago that he had to get special retired House member number plates for his car and that as of Tuesday he still had not picked them up or paid the fees needed to transfer them.

Once Jennings resigned from the House, he was no longer allowed to use those number plates, said a secretary of state's office spokeswoman, adding that they'd be calling over to Jennings's office about it.

Contacted soon after by the Daily Globe, Gary Jennings said he'd just paid for his new, "retired" number plates Tuesday.

Betsy Jennings's 67B House number plate is assigned to a Mercury Mountaineer. While her husband enjoyed a parking spot just outside a Capitol office building, Mrs. Jennings's been spotted parking her Mountaineer on the street. But when driving her husband's car, she'd been using his parking spot.

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