Bernie Schoenburg had a good column today about something that I didn’t think about at the time, but in retrospect is spot on.
Let’s say that you are a regular old state worker, and that you use the computer at your desk to send out an e-mail urging a friend to back your favorite candidate for president.
It sounds to me as if that’s something Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH - who likes to talk about ethics except during second inaugural speeches - might capitalize on if he wanted to embarrass somebody or build a case to fire them for making political use of state resources. […]
Take the news release issued by the governor on Saturday, when thousands of fans of U.S. Sen. BARACK OBAMA, D-Ill., braved the cold to stand on the Old State Capitol square and watch him announce for president.
“On this historic day, I am pleased to join many Illinoisans who are excited and proud to support Senator Obama in his bid for the Presidency,” the governor said, on a state-issued news release complete with the state seal and the names and phone numbers of the governor’s three top press staffers as contact people.
The governor’s office denied this news release amounted to campaigning on state time, pointing to the fact that the guv urged the General Assembly to pass a bill moving the ‘08 primary and talked about policy issues. And the governor’s campaign is paying for his flight.
Whatever. A government-issued press release can’t offer support for a candidate. It was almost certainly a violation of state law. With hundreds of FBI agents crawling all over the place, and a former governor’s campaign fund convicted of RICO charges, you’d think they’d learn by now.
This probably isn’t an imprisonable offense, and it’s certainly not the worst thing they’ve ever done, but perhaps the governor needs to retake the state ethics exam. And perhaps the Inspector General ought to take a look at this incident.
*** UPDATE *** Could somebody please tell me how the above is any different than this?
The Stateâ€™s Attorney is prosecutingâ€”and the Cityâ€™s trying to fireâ€”63-year-old Lester Cioch. Heâ€™s an assistant sewer repair foreman, and a precinct captain, and heâ€™s accused of asking his workers to sign petitions for Mayor Daleyâ€™s re- election campaign, on City time.