The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state finds Republican hopeful Mark Kirk tied with Democratic State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias 41% to 41%. Only four percent (4%) would choose another candidate, while 13% remain undecided.
In mid-August, Kirk held a modest 41% to 38% over Giannoulias.
Women in Illinois prefer the Democrat by a 43% to 38% margin, while men choose Kirk 45% to 39%.
Voters not affiliated with either major party prefer Kirk by more than two-to-one - 52% to 23%. […]
But Giannoulias hasn’t wrapped up the race on his side of the fence yet, and the race is heating up between Kirk and another possible Democratic contender. Kirk’s lead over Cheryle Jackson, a former top aide to Blagojevich, is now down to four points - 43% to 39%. Kirk led Jackson by 17 points in August. Only four percent (4%) now say they would vote for another candidate given that match-up, and 13% are undecided.
Once again, unaffiliated voters in Illinois pick Kirk over Jackson by a substantial 52% to 19% margin.
Kirk also leads another Democratic hopeful, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, 43% to 33%. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided on this match-up, while another eight percent (8%) favor a different candidate.
The swing is within the margin of error, but Kirk has consistently held a lead in the polling, so this shift is newsworthy.
Those “unaffiliated voter” numbers were strongly highlighted by Kirk in a press release this afternoon, by the way.
Fifty-five percent (55%) of Illinois voters somewhat or strongly approve of President Obama’s job performance so far, showing little change from August. Forty-four percent (44%) disapprove of the job their former senator is doing in the White House. Obama’s approval ratings in Illinois are well ahead of those found on the national level in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking poll.
Rasmussen has consistently shown lower job approval for Obama than most other national polls.
This telephone survey of 500 Likely Voters in Illinois was conducted by Rasmussen Reports October 14, 2009. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) is backing Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Robinson Jackson in the state’s Democratic Senate primary.
Davis signaled his support with a $2,000 contribution to Jackson on Sept. 29, according to his third quarter federal financial filing. Davis spokesman Ira Cohen said the congressman will join a number of elected officials Sunday to formally endorse Jackson.
* A proposal to limit “in-kind” contributions to state legislative campaigns? In-kind contributions are goods or services, such as office space, printing, or buying advertising on behalf of a candidate. Currently there are limits on how much cash people can contribute, but not on in-kind contributions. Would you say you:
* A proposal to limit how long legislators could serve in leadership positions—such as Speaker of the House or President of the Senate—before they stepped down to let other legislators lead. Would you say you:
Interviews were conducted between September 9, 2009, and October 8, 2009, by the Survey Research Center at the University of North Texas. Respondents were chosen at random, and each interview lasted approximately 15 minutes. Results from the entire sample have a statistical margin for error of ± 3.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. This means that if we were to conduct the survey 100 times, in 95 of those instances the results would vary by no more than plus or minus 3.4 points from the results obtained here. The margin for error will be larger for demographic, geographic, and response subgroups.
The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute created, directed and financed this telephone survey of 800 registered voters across the state of Illinois.
* Top lawmakers put big money into statehouse races - Campaign finance bill maintains unlimited transfers from leaders’ warchests
On Thursday, David Hoffman, Democratic Candidate for the United States Senate, released his tax returns for the past five years, including schedules, and challenged his opponents to do the same. Hoffman also reiterated his pledge that, should he be elected to the U.S. Senate, he will place all of his financial holdings in a blind trust.
Each of his opponents has refused to take the challenge, or answer questions about whether they will provide this information to voters.
“The voters are entitled to know as much as possible about each candidate so they can be sure there are no conflicts-of-interest, improper dealings, or private agendas in play,” said Hoffman. “The silence from my opponents demonstrates the deep divide between their campaign rhetoric and their actions.”
The personal finances of each candidate should be of interest to voters, especially given the serious concerns that have been raised about the shareholders of Broadway Bank - 100 percent owned by the Giannoulias family - who pulled $70 million in dividends out of the bank just as increased loan defaults put the family’s bank on shaky financial ground according to a recently published report. Giannoulias, who is one of the bank’s owners, and who campaigned for treasurer based on his experience as a banker, has refused to answer questions about the propriety of the dividend withdrawal and whether the funds should be restored to the troubled bank - all according to the Crain’s article.
* The Question: Should Illinois pass a law requiring all candidates for every office to disclose income tax returns for the previous 2 years?
Twenty-eight of the 59 Illinois state senators who voted early this year to remove Blagojevich as governor had gone to him with recommendations for state jobs, promotions, transfers or appointments to state boards, a database of patronage hires kept by Blagojevich aides shows.
In the House, 53 of the 114 state representatives who voted to impeach Blagojevich were listed as earlier having sought personnel moves from the governor.
Most of those who made hiring requests were Democrats, according to the records, which cover the period from 2003 to 2005.
It’s hardly breaking news that, after 26 years of Republican governors, Democrats would deluge a Democratic governor with hiring requests.
Look, this is very good ammo to have when some Democrats start claiming that they were always opposed to Rod Blagojevich. But, few people could’ve known in 2003 that Blagojevich would’ve been arrested early in his second term and then removed from office. Things were becoming more clear by 2005, but the guy did get reelected in 2006 by ten points, so it’s tough to say that everyone should’ve seen this coming.
Cross’s spokeswoman, Sara Wojcicki, said “many” of the recommendations on his list [of 46 people] “were for boards and commissions that require a certain number of Republicans and Democrats. Other ones were for people who had worked under the [George] Ryan administration, were fired by Blagojevich and had asked to be reinstated.”
That isn’t the greatest spin I’ve ever seen from Cross. Fired George Ryan cronies wanted their state jobs back?
But, as I said at the top, this has little to nothing to do with Blagojevich’s eventual legal troubles unless the job requests were tied to actual illegalities. Some may have been, since more than a few requests by legislators were for positions covered under civil service codes. That’s what bears a closer look, in my mind, at least.
Federal prosecutors on Monday are expected to raise concerns over Rod Blagojevich’s slotted appearance on Donald Trump’s reality show: “Celebrity Apprentice.”
At issue is the March airing of the show, which is just months before jury seating is to begin in the former governor’s criminal trial, sources said.
The corruption trial is set to begin in June. […]
“Celebrity Apprentice” doesn’t air until next spring, so prosecutors are likely complain there’s a possibility of tainting the jury pool, sources said. Blagojevich will reportedly join Cyndi Lauper and Sharon Osbourne, among others.
Underdog Democratic U.S. Senate candidate David Hoffman has a new poll which purports to show that he’s in the hunt, but the camp of Democratic primary rival Alexi Giannoulias says there’s no way the poll is accurate.
Hoffman’s survey of 505 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted October 2-4 by Hart Research Associates. The initial head-to-head has Giannoulias, now the state treasurer, leading with 18 percent, followed by Urban League President Cheryle Jackson at 7 percent and 5 percent for Hoffman, the former city of Chicago inspector general and a former federal prosecutor.
The Giannoulias campaign, however, points to a poll it took July 28 through Aug. 2 that had its guy at 45 percent, with 17 percent for Chris Kennedy and 13 percent for Jackson. No way, they say, could they be as low as Hoffman’s poll shows.
The Hoffman pollster read “positive” statements about all three candidates, and afterward another head-to-head was conducted. Hoffman jumped into the lead with 36 percent to 27 percent for Giannoulias and 11 percent for Jackson. Read those positive “pushes,” however, and you’ll see that Hoffman’s positive statements paint the man as almost a superhero. “He earned a reputation for being fiercely independent and putting accountability ahead of politics by exposing insider deals and taxpayer rip-offs, including the Chicago parking meter scandal,” is just one.
Afterward, the Hoffman pollster posed negative questions. While not all were divulged, some were, including an undefined “criticism involving loans to Tony Rezko by the Broadway Bank.” The Giannoulias family owns Broadway. Questions were also asked about Hoffman, including one about how he was once “a law clerk for conservative judges, including former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who opposed a woman’s right to choose.”
After all the questions, both positive and negative, Hoffman’s poll claims he leads with 43 percent to 18 for Jackson and just 16 for Giannoulias.
This isn’t really a surprise. Giannoulias’ negatives obviously make him quite vulnerable or the White House wouldn’t have spent so much time and energy trying to recruit somebody else to run last summer.
The question is whether Hoffman will have enough money to make his case and drive his points home, both positive for himself and negative against Giannoulias, before the Feb. 2 primary. Right now, he’s reportedly raised about $900,000, more than half of that from his own pocket.
Candidates will need to spend tons of money in January because so many others will be running ads. The Democrats and Republicans have the two big primaries - governor and U.S. Senate. Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk’s open 10th Congressional District seat will probably see some Chicago TV spending by both parties. The Cook County Board president’s race could see more than a few bucks spent.
The bottom line is that without big bucks, even a compelling message might easily be lost in the TV clutter. That’s a big reason why state Comptroller Dan Hynes started running commercials so early against Gov. Pat Quinn.
Money is still a serious “if” with Hoffman. He raised a decent amount of cash right out of the gate, but it’s uncertain whether he can sustain it. Hoffman’s quite the fighter, though, so we’ll see how it plays out.
Meanwhile, Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard has a new poll that may show a major bounce from Jim Edgar’s endorsement of him for governor.–
The former GOP governor announced his Dillard endorsement last Monday, and Dillard’s campaign followed up almost immediately with 300,000 “robocalls” to Republican primary voters. The calls featured Edgar asking voters to support Dillard.–
The new automated poll, which was taken Wednesday, shows Dillard with 23.5 percent of the vote. His closest competitor is former attorney general Jim Ryan, with 10.5 percent. State Sen. Bill Brady is third at 8.5 percent. Former Illinois Republican Party chairman Andy McKenna, who will likely have the most money to spend on this race (the word is more than $3.5 million) and who just hired a new media consultant, scored just 2.56 percent.–Nearly 45 percent remain undecided, however, so this is still anybody’s game.
A poll conducted last week for another statewide Republican campaign showed a similarly dramatic “Edgar bounce” for Dillard. Those numbers have not been officially released, but they show almost the same result for Dillard, providing more evidence that the Edgar impact could be real.–
The Dillard poll was taken by We Ask America of 3,193 likely Republican voters. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.73 percent.
* On a related noted, I’m told by a Republican source not affiliated with the Dillard campaign that Sen. Dillard has placed at least $17,512 on radio stations in Bloomington, Decatur, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield for 10/19-10/29. That ain’t a lot of cash. “This buy is weak,” the GOP source said, but it’s the Edgar endorsement.
* Other campaign stuff…
* Preckwinkle needs Daley’s backing to win : While the media got into a tizzy about Stroger’s reverends, the incumbent’s approval rating stands at 10 percent. Black voters are smart enough to smile, give “pastor” a hallelujah, then make an intelligent choice on Election Day. I hope.
* Danny Davis to decide which post to seek: Nov. 9 is when candidates have to declare what office they are seeking. Davis said he may announce before then which office he would be a candidate for but don’t be surprised if he takes his time. “I am going to say what I am going to do when it’s time,” Davis told the Defender. “I am under no pressure to make a decision on which office to pursue. If someone wants to run for my congressional seat they are free to do so. I am not preventing anyone from getting out here circulating petitions and raising money to run.”
* More money totals for congressional races surface: Long Grove Mayor Maria Rodriguez, considered the top Republican candidate in the February 2010 primary [in Democrat Melissa Bean’s district], raised $22,525 during the filing period.
State lawmakers last week agreed to appropriate an extra $200 million for the program but without deciding where to get the money.
The “best and quickest way” to get the revenue is with the passage of a statute allowing for so-called interfund borrowing, Quinn said Sunday. That would enable the state to borrow money from some state accounts that have large surpluses. He plans to identify the accounts this week, he said.
“It’s a financial technique used by many, many states,” Quinn said. “We have proposed a bill to the General Assembly about that. We hope to get it passed.”
After students and university presidents took their pleas to Springfield to restore the grants, Quinn announced a plan to borrow $1 billion from some of the state’s roughly 600 special funds. While the state needs only $205 million to pay for MAP grants for the spring semester, Quinn on Sunday did not say what the remaining roughly $800 million would be used for. He has said the dollars could be used for “unmet needs,” such as the state’s backlog of medical bills.
Any money borrowed from accounts would be repaid in 18 months, Quinn said.
Since a tax hike appears off the table for the foreseeable future, borrowing, deferring and cutting is the only way out of this mess - even though it just buries the state deeper and deeper in red ink.
* But since both Democratic gubernatorial candidates are battling over their dreamy tax hike plans, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy out of DC has a new suggestion for Illinois policy makers: Implement the original Pat Quinn tax hike plan now and then do Dan Hynes’ plan later…
While much of the press coverage of these two sets of recommendations has emphasized their differences, the reality is that Illinois policymakers would be wise to adopt both of them. In the short run, given the depth of the state’s fiscal woes, the restrictions imposed by its constitution, and the extremely regressive nature of its tax system, the most progressive, most economically sound, and most timely option available to state legislators for generating additional tax revenue is an increase in Illinois’ single income tax rate. In the long run, a graduated income tax would be preferable, as it would further enhance tax equity and would put Illinois’ tax system on a more sustainable path. The former does not – and should not – preclude the latter, nor, due to the time likely required to enact it, is the latter a complete substitute for the former. Indeed, policymakers should view an increase in the existing single income tax rate as a bridge to a graduated rate structure, a bridge that could be removed once that new structure is in place.
The problem, of course, is that Quinn’s plan was never taken all that seriously. There were so many exemptions that the tax rate had to be increased too high to produce needed revenues. Quinn eventually backed all the way off his proposal by the end of the legislative session. Then again, the Hynes income tax hike plan won’t be all that easy to pass, either. Keep that in mind when reading this excerpt from ITEP’s press release…
In particular, the report finds that:
· the income tax plan put forward by Governor Quinn in March 2009 would reduce the taxes paid by 27 percent of Illinois residents – and leave them unchanged for another 15 percent – yet would still generate roughly $3 billion, if in effect in 2011. Of that $3 billion, close to $2.5 billion would come from the wealthiest fifth of Illinois residents.
· the Hynes proposal to create a graduated income tax would represent an even more targeted approach to generating additional revenue, but would be less effective in helping to balance the budget. Approximately 95 percent of the additional $2.2 billion the Hynes plan would yield if in effect in 2011 would be paid by the richest 1 percent of Illinois taxpayers, taxpayers whose average income is expected to exceed $1.5 million that year.
Again, I seriously doubt that either plan is likely to see the light of day any time soon, unless the political climate abruptly shifts.
* Sun-Times editorial: Illinois needs a new tax system — one that treats lower earners more fairly and generates more income. Until we get it, we’ll keep romping in dreamland until the state goes broke.
* Hynes: Plan to fix budget won’t be popular: Next, he said, the state must look to a number of revenue measures, including expanding the sales tax base to include “luxury” services such as elective cosmetic surgery, country club memberships and dating services; expanded gaming; and closing some corporate tax loopholes. The “toughest part,” he said, will be persuading voters to adopt a new, graduated state income tax, as opposed to the current flat 3 percent individual income tax.
* Zorn: Which political TV ad for governor should we trust?
* Free rides for seniors proving too costly for RTA: A University of Illinois at Chicago Urban Transportation Center analysis found that free rides for seniors and disabled individuals will equal a loss of more than $1 billion for the CTA, Pace and Metra by 2030.
* Legislature reinstates MAP Grant on Lobby Day - Some wonder if controversy was real
* McCarter: Democrats plan new sales taxes: But Steve Brown, the spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan, shot down McCarter’s prediction that new taxes are on the agenda when the statehouse’s next regular session begins in January. “I would say his perception is not terribly accurate,” Brown said.
This fall, the Illinois Tollway expects to finish its two-year rebuilding and widening projects on the Tri-State (I-294) and the Veterans (I-355), Reagan (I-88) and Jane Addams (I-90) memorial tollways. The $3.5 billion job was the biggest overhaul since the system was built 50 years ago.
Brian Monahan was one of the kindest, most gentle, decent free spirits I’ve ever known. He was one of the only people I’ve ever met who had no animosity in his heart. He believed strongly in his principles and he fought like hell for what he thought was right, but he never hated anyone. Ever.
We went through some crazy times together. Flat broke, no furniture in our Rockford apartment and then our tiny little house in Springfield, recycling cigarette butts into roll-your-owns, drinking beer out of gallon jugs, hitch-hiking to campus. It was Brian’s idea to call our favorite radio station to request one, last song before our electricity was shut off. That’s the way he was. Let’s make a rainbow even in the darkest hours.
The Chicago funeral arrangements aren’t finished as I write this, but we’re having a potluck supper in his memory this Sunday night around 7 at the Brewhaus in Springfield. He left behind two beautiful daughters, Molly & Wendy, his wife Rachel and his stepson Kaleb…
We’ll also pass the hat for his kids.
Needless to say, I’m not sure that we’ll be updating this site on Monday. I’ll let you know.
* The House came up several votes shy today of passing the ever-controversial SB 600, a proposal to force the Republican Party to elect its state central committeepersons. The bill received 59 votes, but it has an immediate effective date, so it required 71 for passage.
The bill had already passed the Senate over the strong objections of the Illinois Republican Party, which threatened to sue if the legislation became law. The proposal was supported by insurgent Republicans, like sponsoring Sen. Chris Lauzen, who believe elections will open up and democratize the party, even though the Democratic Party of Illinois - which also elects its central committee and is run by Speaker Madigan - is anything but a democracy. Then again, there’s only one Mike Madigan in this world.
Just four Republicans voted for the bill. 47 voted “No” and a few had already left town. There’s no roll call because the bill was put on “Postponed Consideration.”
John Patterson was able to jot down some of the “No” votes, but only made it to “J” before the roll call was dumped…
Gov. Pat Quinn has hit a roadblock in his bid for more time to present his budget address to state lawmakers next year.
The full House, after approval of a House committee earlier, today voted 66-49 to support House Bill 1409, which would push back Quinn’s budget proposal to late March. The bill needed 71 ‘yes’ votes to pass but could come up for another vote.
Under state law, governors are supposed to spell out their budget plans to lawmakers by the third Wednesday in February. But that’s been regularly delayed for various reasons in recent years.
* The Paul Simon Institute has a new statewide poll [fixed link]. The gubernatorial head-to-heads will probably get the most coverage, but there’s something more important that we should look at first.
Check out the highlighted results from these job approval ratings…
House of Representatives Minority Leader Tom Cross
Strongly Approve 4.1%
Somewhat Approve 21.8%
Somewhat Disapprove 6.8%
Strongly Disapprove 2.8% Don’t Know 64.6%
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton
Strongly Approve 3.4%
Somewhat Approve 19.8%
Somewhat Disapprove 9.4%
Strongly Disapprove 6.1% Don’t Know 61.4%
Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Mike Madigan
Strongly Approve 8.3%
Somewhat Approve 32.1%
Somewhat Disapprove 20.8%
Strongly Disapprove 21.8% Don’t Know 17.1%
The “don’t know” answer was prefaced by this statement from the pollster: “If you don’t know enough about that person, just tell me that.”
It’s long been said that Speaker Madigan couldn’t be made an issue in campaigns because voters don’t know who he is. That’s definitely true of the other leaders, but it doesn’t appear to be the case with Speaker Madigan.
For example, far more voters don’t know who Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is, or don’t know enough about him to make a judgment (46.8%) than Madigan (17.1%). The same goes for Comptroller Dan Hynes (41.0%).
About an equal number say they don’t know who is/enough about Roland Burris (16.4%) when compared to Madigan. And the difference isn’t all that great between Speaker Madigan’s “don’t know” numbers and Gov. Quinn’s (12.8%). The pollster said he was astounded by the Madigan results because most people in other states have little idea who the House Speaker is.
Also, obviously, Speaker Madigan’s support amongst the populace is quite soft, while his disapproval rating is far more intense.
The survey of 800 registered Illinois voters was taken Sept. 8 to Oct. 9 and has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.
But the head-to-heads in the primary matchups have far higher margins of error…
Of those surveyed, 322 respondents said they would vote in the Democratic primary, and of those, 208 offered an answer. The results of the Democratic contest have a margin of error of ± 5.4 percent.
There were 201 respondents who said they would vote in the Republican primary, and of those, 89 offered an answer. Those findings have a margin of error of ± 6.9 percent.
89 with an opinion? Holy moly, that’s a microscopic sample size.
* Keeping those very tiny numbers in mind, the Dem results…
Governor Pat Quinn 33.9%
State Comptroller Dan Hynes 16.5%
Someone else 14.2%
Don’t know/No answer 35.4%
State Senator Bill Brady 10.0%
State Senator Kirk Dillard 7.5%
State Senator Matt Murphy 4.0%
DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillserstrom 3.5%
Radio Commentator Dan Proft 3.5%
Businessman Adam Andrzejewski 2.0%
Someone else 13.9%
Don’t know/No answer 55.7%
Also keep in mind that this poll was conducted before Jim Ryan and Andy McKenna announced and before Jim Edgar announced his support for Dillard, which (as I told subscribers today) may have given Dillard a big bump in recent polling.
And make sure you remember that the poll only picked up two days, at most, of Hynes’ TV ad buy.
* More job approval numbers…
U. S. President Barack Obama?
Strongly Approve 36.6%
Somewhat Approve 26.1%
Somewhat Disapprove 12.0%
Strongly Disapprove 22.6%
Don’t Know 2.6%
62.7 percent approval for Obama is a notch higher than the 59 percent in the Tribune’s late August poll.
58.1 percent approval for Gov. Quinn is way higher than the Tribune’s 39 percent. That is probably because the Trib appeared to ask approve/disapprove/no opinion, while this PSI poll asked strongly/somewhat/don’t know. The Tribune had 35 percent with no opinion, vs. this poll at 12.8 percent. I’ve said many times before that Quinn’s support and opposition is soft, with most in the mushy middle. This poll and the Trib poll both seemed to show that as well.
* 12:23 pm - I told subscribers about this a couple of days ago. From Rikeesha Phelon, Senate President John Cullerton’s spokesperson…
“After further review of the legislation and the possibility of litigation, the Senate President has reconsidered the need for the fumigation bill. To date, Governor Quinn has made 67 appointments that are subject to Senate confirmation. The Senate President recognizes the progress and pace of change made by the Governor. He does not intend to call the bill for a vote.”
Gov. Pat Quinn’s refusal to fire two University of Illinois trustees could revive a so-called fumigation bill aimed at hundreds of state workers. […]
A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton said after Quinn’s announcement that the president plans to call Senate Bill 1333 for a vote in the legislature’s October veto session. […]
[But] Phelon said Senate Democrats have “diverse opinions” on whether the measure is appropriate. Some lawmakers and affected workers argue it’s unfair to punish workers for wrongdoing they weren’t involved in. The trustees insist they’ve done nothing wrong.
“Based on various caucus differences in the spring, I would say that there are no guarantees that the legislation will pass,” Phelon said. “Nevertheless, it will be called for a vote.”
Gov. Pat Quinn indicated Friday morning that he supports replacing the CTA’s free rides for seniors program with a system in which seniors pay according to their ability.
His remarks on Greg Jarrett’s WGN-AM 720 radio show come a day after officials from the Regional Transportation Authority said the program is unsustainable, and said they would go to Springfield and ask legislators to make drastic changes in the 19-month-old program.
Quinn said he expected the program to be reviewed in light of the Chicago Transit Authority’s $300 million budget deficit.
“If there’s a review and it finds that the program should be based on ability to pay that low-income seniors and definitely veterans and also our military personnel receive a break with respect to public transit, I think that’s where we’re headed,” Quinn said in the WGN-AM interview. “In a crisis sometimes, that’s what you have to do. If you are wealthy, then maybe you can make do with a situation where you pay your way, but I don’t want to hurt folks who live from pension check to pension check.”
* The Question: Should all military veterans receive free rides on mass transit? Explain fully, please, and stick to the question.
* The Sun-Times has a story today about people who asked Rod Blagojevich for jobs shortly after Blagojevich was first elected governor. Some of the jobs were civil service, which weren’t supposed to be patronage-based…
Many of the clout hires got low-level state jobs like toll collector and highway maintenance worker, despite a long-standing court order that bans political hiring for such jobs.
Mary Lee Leahy is the Springfield attorney who won the landmark 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made political hiring for most Illinois state government jobs illegal. When he took office, Blagojevich hired her as a personnel consultant, but Leahy said the administration apparently ignored her advice and set up a patronage system she was unaware of.
Leahy said she’s “sickened” by what the records obtained by the Sun-Times under the state’s Freedom of Information Act reveal, and she points to a recent political scandal for perspective.
Blagojevich was using Leahy’s good name all along as a front for his patronage operation. She didn’t realize it until it was far too late. Some of us knew this would happen from the get-go, but that’s life, I suppose.
* Still, the fact that Democrats asked the first Democratic governor in 26 years for jobs is hardly surprising. A whole bunch of people who didn’t see the train wreck coming six years ahead of time are gonna get tarnished by this, including a US Senate candidate…
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheryle Jackson, former communications director for Blagojevich. She is listed as having secured a deputy directorship for her husband, Charles Jackson, with the Department of Public Health in April 2003. Jackson’s press secretary did not respond when asked for comment.
You can see some other Democratic sponsors here, here and here.
The problem for Jackson, of course, is that this just brings her even closer to Blagojevich, if that was possible. I have a hard time seeing how she wins this thing.
– IL SEN will be a classic surrogate race, one where the fates of Giannoulias and Rep. Mark Kirk are tied to bigger names of their respective parties. While Giannoulias hopes that “name” is Obama, GOPers prefer another one: Blagojevich. (For his part, Giannoulias seems unfazed. “Folks in Illinois know I was never close to him,” he said of the ex-gov).
– Meanwhile, watch for IL Dems to return to their ‘06/’08 playbook in ‘10. Asked if tying Kirk to George W. Bush will still be a workable strategy next year, Giannoulias smiled and said, “Yes.” GOPers say they aren’t worried. Said the NRSC: “If Giannoulias wants to use a failed 2008 playbook in 2010 with George Bush out office, Rod Blagojevich on trial … this will be an easier campaign for Mark Kirk to win than we thought.”
Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful David Hoffman late Thursday released copies of his federal income tax returns for the past five years and, with a sharp shot at competitor Alexi Giannoulias, challenged him to do the same.
The returns show Mr. Hoffman and his wife reported annual adjusted gross income of between $247,000 and as much as $630,000 between 2004 and 2007.
The fluctuation was largely due to activity in the Hoffmans’ brokerage account, with large capital gains and income from dividends reported in some years.
Mr. Hoffman has been a federal prosecutor most of his adult life, but an aide says the brokerage assets reflect money he and siblings received from their grandfather, a founder of Geico Insurance. The former Chicago inspector general is worth $2.8 to $6 million, according to his campaign, with a detailed disclosure to be released later this month.
I wonder how much more cash he’ll actually be able to put into that campaign.
* Back in the Fall of 2007, Democrat Dan Seals was gearing up for his second run for the 10th Congressional District and preparing to face Jay Footlik in the Democratic primary. In October, Seals reported raising $301K, to Footlik’s $193K. Seals went on to win the primary, but lost the general to incumbent Republican Mark Kirk.
Seals is back again this year for his third try, but he’s up against a far more formidable Democratic primary opponent in state Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston). Hamos reported $547K raised in her October filing. But Seals did his usual, raising $303K during the same reporting period.
Bottom line: Seals really needs to step up his game.
* On the Republican side, Dick Green raised $304K, Bob Dold pulled in $258K, state Rep. Beth Coulson reported a mere $128K and Bill Cadigan reported a paltry $37K.
Rep. Coulson is widely believed to be the GOP’s best hope of retaining this seat, but she’d better kick it into high gear pretty darned soon or she may lose this thing.
Instead of raising taxes, fines or fees in 2010, he’s risking the bond rating used to determine city borrowing costs by doing what he said he would never do: raiding reserve funds generated by city asset sales.
The mayor’s public argument for the reversal is that Chicago taxpayers are at the end of their rope.
“I understand that times are still tough for people, and I don’t feel right asking them to pay for more city government right now,” the mayor said Thursday.
The FBI is investigating how a Pullman not-for-profit group spent a $1.1 million state grant to restore the burned-out remains of Market Hall, a national landmark in the historic South Side neighborhood, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
Last week, the Sun-Times reported the state agency that doled out cash from the Illinois FIRST public works program had barred the Historic Pullman Foundation — Market Hall’s politically powerful owner — from receiving future state grants after it failed to submit a required project audit. Pullman foundation officials turned in the audit after being informed by a reporter that the group had been frozen out of state grants.
After the story was published, a FBI agent assigned to the public-corruption division interviewed Charles Gregersen, the architect originally hired by the Pullman foundation to handle the Market Hall project, Gregerson said.
Gregersen said he turned over public documents regarding the project that he had obtained through Freedom of Information requests. He declined to comment on his conversation with the investigator.