Murphy called that statement a "smoking gun." It shows, according to Murphy, "that motivation for this program was to get money out in politically important neighborhoods for Gov. Quinn before ... a tight election."
Murphy and other Republican legislators point to the fact that most of the program's funding went to black neighborhoods in Chicago that were ultimately critical to Quinn's election.
"Why on earth would anybody in a government position talk about the timing of an election with the release of public taxpayer dollars if it wasn't for the political advancement of their boss?" Murphy said, referring to the Quinn staffer's comments.
"I wouldn't say it's buying votes," said Democratic state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, when asked about the timing of the governor's announcement of the anti-violence program. "I could see (it as) currying favor."
Quinn ended up winning the 2010 election by less than one percentage point, largely due to the turnout of the black vote in Chicago.
'A lot of baloney'
The Illinois governor strongly denied there was any political motivation behind the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
"That's a lot of baloney, and you know they know that," Quinn told CNN last month. "As a matter of fact, the people making those charges were all running against me. It's all politics."
Quinn insisted that the initiative was a direct response to the incessant violence that gripped Chicago during the summer of 2010.
"The bottom line is, I went to the funerals of three police officers in 2010," Quinn said. "I spoke at all three of those funerals. Gang-bangers had shot down those officers."
Quinn said he formed an anti-violence commission -- which included Chicago residents who had lost loved ones to violence -- that made recommendations that led to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
"That commission recommended having youth programs, opportunities for mentorship and jobs to keep young people away from the gangs," Quinn said. "I followed their advice and we've followed that all the way through. And this is not political. It's designed to help everyday people stay away from violence, protect their safety, make sure their young children, especially in poor neighborhoods that have no jobs, have a better way."
But records obtained by CNN show the NRI program was under way before those recommendations were released.
After a series of open meetings in Chicago and other areas, the commission issued a list of recommendations on September 13, 2010, according to the commission's chair, Teresa Garate. Those recommendations -- like the program itself -- focused on four areas: counseling and alternative education, prisoner re-entry, job creation and community development.
But a week before those recommendations were issued, Chicago aldermen began receiving a letter from the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority's (IVPA) director about the NRI program. The September 7, 2010, letter stated that "the initiative is on a very fast track, so we are requesting that you respond immediately to this request." The IVPA is the state agency that oversaw the NRI.
When asked about those records, a Quinn spokesman confirmed that the program was in the works before the commission issued its recommendations.
What the program actually did
Politically motivated or not, it's hard to argue that the nearly $55 million spent on the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative helped stem violence in Chicago. Two years after the program was implemented, there have been 476 murders in the city, a nearly 20 percent increase over 2011.
The governor defended the program, saying that he had to do something to address the situation.
"You take it one year at a time and you try to evaluate the programs, and find out what is working and what isn't working so well," Quinn told CNN. "And you focus on the things that work well. But you don't just say we're not going to do anything."