Records show that a top aide at the Illinois Department of Public Health took a leave of absence to work on political campaigns in the fall of 2016 while the agency faced the baffling return of deadly Legionnaires' disease at the Illinois Veterans’ Home.

Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah's chief of staff, Erik Rayman, was paid $15,732 in October and November by the House Republican Organization.

State employees routinely leave the payroll during campaign season, but it's highly unusual for a chief of staff. Rayman's 2016 departure came two months after three more reported cases of Legionnaires' disease at the veterans home. The disease has claimed 13 residents' lives since 2015.

Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold says an experienced administrator filled in temporarily and there was no disruption in the agency's response to Quincy.

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