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*** UPDATED x1 *** Quinn campaign claims Hynes “cover-up”

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010

* Until now, the Quinn campaign’s angle on the newly released Burr Oak Cemetery documents (background here and here) has been less than effective. For instance, Gov. Quinn trotted out Congressman Bobby Rush yesterday, who promptly labeled Dan Hynes “evil.” Yeah. That’ll work.

On Sunday, Quinn blasted Hynes for “ignoring the desecration of human remains at a black cemetery,” which was the “incompetence” angle

Critics say that Dan Hynes and his staff acted with utter incompetence back in 2003 when he first learned about this scandal and he could have averted six more years of needless cemetery grave robbing with a simple phone call to the police.

Stanislaw, a cemetery worker in the Southwest Side of Chicago, said, “This Dan Hynes guy isn’t competent to run a dog catcher’s office let alone the office of overseeing one single cemetery. It’s unbelievable that his office knew about Burr Oak’s troubles in 2003 and withheld this information from the public,” said Stanislaw who requested that Polish News withhold his full name.

Quinn also pushed the “uncaring” angle, which was mentioned by Rush yesterday…

Quinn says this shows Hynes didn’t care.

QUINN: If you’re in public office and you learn of some wrongdoing that affects something as serious as burying your loved ones, do you use a bureaucratic excuse and say, ‘That’s not my job,’ or do you roll up your sleeves and correct the wrong?

But with the clock ticking fast, their best angle is one they’ve just started using. “Cover-up.” It’s a proven media attention-getter, and it’s more than just plausible. From a press release…

COMPTROLLER COVER-UP
New Evidence Confirms Comptroller Hynes Ducked Burr Oak Responsibility,
Then Hid Evidence to Preserve His Political Career

CHICAGO – Instead of taking responsibility for his top aide’s failure to act or alert other authorities in 2003 when he was first warned of grave desecration at Burr Oak Cemetery, Comptroller Hynes is hiding behind bureaucratic excuses and trying desperately to shift blame and confuse voters.

“As Comptroller, Dan Hynes was given regulatory authority over private cemeteries in Illinois,” said Quinn for Illinois Communications Director Elizabeth Austin. “But more than that, as an elected official, he was given the trust of the people of Illinois.

“When Dan Hynes first learned of a serious problem at Burr Oak Cemetery, he could have spoken out on behalf of the generations buried there,” Austin said. “He could have passed new laws to protect consumers from badly run cemeteries. He could have contacted law enforcement officials to close down the cemetery. Instead, as Barack Obama said of Hynes in 2004, the Comptroller chose to sit silently on the sidelines – protecting his own political ambitions and doing nothing.”

Over the past months, as the scandal at Burr Oak Cemetery and the $100 million collapse of a statewide pre-need funeral trust fund have unfolded, Comptroller Hynes has repeatedly covered up, stonewalled, and “misspoken” to avoid taking responsibility for his office and his actions.

Last week, a signed official letter – date-stamped Feb. 16, 2004, from his own top aide – proved that the chief executive at Burr Oak Cemetery personally reported serious problems to the Comptroller’s office in 2003. Hynes displayed the heart of a bureaucrat and claimed it wasn’t his job, as an elected official, to take action on behalf of the people who put him in office.

In sworn testimony before the Cemetery Oversight Task Force on Sept. 10, 2009, Comptroller Hynes swore that his office first learned of serious improprieties at Burr Oak in 2005 – even though the top aide who learned of the problems in 2003, and who wrote the letter, was sitting right beside him.

Dan Hynes says he had no authority to clean up Burr Oak Cemetery. Patricia Brown Holmes, chair of the Cemetery Oversight Task Force, says that is not true. In fact, the Task Force found that Hynes had “comprehensive” authority over private cemeteries, as dozens of archived news releases from Hynes’ own office make clear. (Judge Holmes may be reached at 773-363-5718.)

This weekend, Comptroller Hynes was asked why his office concealed the Burr Oak letter when the Cemetery Oversight Task Force requested all documents related to grave robbing at the historic African-American Cemetery. Hynes made excuses by claiming that the Task Force did not specifically request that letter (which they did not know existed) and blamed bad record-keeping by bureaucrats under his direct supervision.

Last year, the State Journal-Register requested records showing what Comptroller Hynes’ office did to protect nearly 50,000 consumers who had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a fraudulent trust fund under his oversight. Hynes refused to release the documents, taking cover behind a smokescreen of bureaucratic paper-pushing and political self-protection.

“At the end of the day, the people of Illinois want a governor who will tell them what he can do, and who will fight for new laws and new rules that protect them from special interests, corruption, and state bureaucracy running amok,” Austin said. “When something goes wrong, we do not need leaders, at any level, who will waste time trying to point the finger of blame at someone else. We need leaders who will stand up, confront the problem, roll up their sleeves and get to work.

“Throughout his career, Pat Quinn has been a leader with the courage to speak out, stand up, and take action,” Austin said. “He has the character and the fortitude to lead Illinois, today and over the next four years.”

I’ll have more on this for subscribers tomorrow.

* Related…

* Dem. candidates for gov. campaign at black churches

* Democrats take governor race to church

* Quinn visits black churches in Chicago, urges people to vote

*** UPDATE *** From the Hynes campaign…

DESPERATE QUINN’S SHAMELESS POLITICIZATION OF BURR OAK TRAGEDY CONTINUES
Quinn’s release of confidential internal corporate memo to smear opponent may jeopardize ongoing criminal investigation

CHICAGO – Two days before voters go to the polls, the Quinn campaign continues to politicize and exploit the tragedy at Burr Oak Cemetery, in so doing likely jeopardizing an ongoing criminal investigation. The Hynes campaign called on Quinn today to provide a full accounting of his campaign’s shameless use of an internal corporate memo, which very well may be impeding the investigation.

“Pat Quinn continues his desperate effort to misrepresent the facts and politicize the Burr Oak tragedy in the hope that he might gain some political advantage,” Hynes campaign communications director Matt McGrath said. “But now the real question is whether Quinn is impeding or putting at risk an ongoing criminal investigation by misrepresenting and misusing evidence in that investigation for political purposes. “

Last night the Quinn campaign acknowledged that they had been shopping around for reporters an internal corporate memo from the owners of Burr Oak, which quite significantly made clear they were actively deceiving the Comptroller’s office. Thus far Quinn has been unwilling to provide precise dates and a full explanation of when he acquired the memo and what he did with it. Neither the Comptroller’s office nor the Hynes campaign had possession of or awareness of that memo prior to it being provided by a reporter two days ago. But Quinn and his campaign acknowledged having the memo in their possession for many months.

“Quinn needs to provide a detailed explanation of when and under what circumstances he obtained the memo, and once he had it, what he did with it,” McGrath said. “Further, he should be called upon to explain why his misuse and misrepresentation in a political campaign does not jeopardize the ongoing criminal investigation regarding Burr Oak.”

Then this afternoon, Quinn launched another desperate attack on the topic, misrepresenting facts.

“Nothing demonstrates more clearly why Illinois voters should reject Pat Quinn than his campaign’s despicable ongoing politicization of the Burr Oak tragedy,” McGrath said. “Here we are, two days before a vital election, when the people of Illinois will have their first opportunity to choose a governor since Rod Blagojevich left the scene, and all Pat Quinn wants to do is throw around wild accusations about Burr Oak.”

In another mark of the politicization of the process, the Quinn campaign is encouraging reporters to talk with Patricia Brown Holmes, chair of the Cemetery Oversight Task Force. They fail to disclose that Ms. Holmes is a law partner of Tom Quinn, the Governor’s brother.

“It’s unfortunate that the weekend before the election, a woman who is a law partner of Pat Quinn’s brother would enter the desperate political fray and undermine the work of the task force she chaired by misrepresenting clear facts: that the Comptroller’s office has limited financial authority over cemeteries,” McGrath said.

“These are the desperate actions of a failing candidate with no ideas, no vision, and no greater goal than hanging on to his job,” McGrath said. “We are confident the people of Illinois will see it for what it is and reject Pat Quinn.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


US Senate Sunday roundup

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010

* The Alexi Giannoulias campaign was probably hoping to change the subject this morning

Democratic Senate candidate Jacob Meister dropped out of the race with two days to go and endorsed rival Alexi Giannoulias.

Meister, a lawyer who is openly gay, made his announcement this morning at a Giannoulias rally in Chicago.

Meister was having difficulty gaining much traction in the race. A recent Tribune poll showed him garnering only 1 percent of support.

During debates, Meister has defended Giannoulias against attacks made by rival David Hoffman. He also has taken exception to comments Hoffman has made about being the only candidate to be married with children. He said such comments were insulting to gays who are unable to legally marry.

Meister’s one percent means zip, and he dropped out so late that he’ll still be on the ballot, but a “fresh” story like this could step on the “older” story about the family bank problems.

At times, Meister almost looked like a stalking horse for Giannoulias. Cheryle Jackson said as much today

“This was not a surprise,” Jackson said of Meister’s move. “This is something we knew all along, that he was in the race to help the treasurer. That being said, he was only pulling 1 percent at best. So I think it was inconsequential.”

Meister responds

But Meister called “preposterous'’ the suggestion that he was a Giannoulias pinch-hitter from the start.

“The suggestion that I was in any way recruited or in cahoots with Alexi or anyone in his camp is ridiculous,'’ Meister said.

* Complicating matters for Giannoulias today was the fact that a New York Times columnist wrote a brutal piece in today’s edition

Alexi Giannoulias would be nothing in Illinois politics if not for Broadway Bank. Now the near-failure of that family-owned bank is threatening to make him a political non-entity again.

More…

The [family bank’s] move into real estate coincided with a headlong push into brokered deposits. This is quintessential hot money — large amounts that jump from bank to bank, each bank offering the lure of high interest, which the banks then must fund by making ever-riskier loans.

During Mr. Giannoulias’s time at the bank, brokered deposits catapulted fourfold, to $640 million. The typical bank at this point was growing brokered deposits at about 9 percent a year. Mr. Giannoulias’s bank was increasing its load by as much as 48 percent in a single year. Broadway Bank’s brokered deposits reached 80 percent of total deposits in 2006.

No one knows for certain how big a role Mr. Giannoulias played in these decisions. As Broadway’s top lending officer, he must have influenced the move into construction lending. As a connected family member, he was probably present during discussions of the hot-money play. Certainly, he took part in the family’s decision to take out some $70 million in dividends from the bank in 2007 and 2008, even as it careened toward a consent decree with the F.D.I.C.

But the column was a whole lot of false conjecture, according to the campaign

Giannoulias has admitted to making loans over the years that, in hindsight, he would not have made. He has pointed out that 700 community banks around the country have entered into consent decrees in recent years.

Giannoulias emphasized he has had no role in running the bank for four years. He is a 4 percent non-voting stock owner. The decree requires the Giannoulias Family re-capitalize the bank. Will Giannoulias chip in? “If they ask, of course I’ll help out,” he said.

The family withdrew $70 million from the bank in recent years — primarily to pay debt on Giannoulias’ father’s estate, Giannoulias’ campaign has said. Only a small fraction of that went to Giannoulias

Still

Among the loans Giannoulias has gotten heat for:

* More than $10 million from 2001 to 2005 to alleged Father & Son Russian mobster team Lev and Boris Stratievsky. Father Lev has passed away. Son Boris is in jail facing money-laundering charges. Broadway funded development projects some on the South Side — that tenants and city attorneys complained were roach motels. Broadway has been unable to collect on the loans.

* About $12.9 million to convicted bookmaker Michael Giorango for a Miami Beach hotel and a Hollywood, Fla., restaurant, among other ventures, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Broadway has sued Giorango and his partner, Demitri Stavropoulos, convicted of running a betting operation in Chicago, seeking to get the money back. Giannoulias initially downplayed his relationship with Giorango, noting the loans to him started before he joined the bank. Later he said he went to Miami to meet Giorango and inspect the property, and that another $3 million loan to Giorango was for a South Carolina casino.

* Related…

* AP: Meister drops out, backs Giannoulias for Senate

* Hoarse or not, Senate candidates step up pitch

* Democratic Senate candidates warn of GOP tide

* Reuters: Could Illinois’ Senate race copy Massachusetts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Dillard resumes campaigning tomorrow

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010

* After suspending his weekend campaign tour and spending time with his family, Sen. Kirk Dillard has decided to soldier on tomorrow. From a press release…

After temporarily suspending his statewide fly around to spend time with his family after recent news of his father’s death, Senator Dillard will conclude his statewide campaign swing and discuss the vast support he has received across the state, his unique and detailed plans and vision which set him apart from the pack and his plans to unite the Republican Party to secure a victory in November.

Arrangements for Mr. Edward Dillard’s services have been set for late this week. More details will follow as they become available.

My most sincere condolences are extended to the Senator and to his family. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a father, and my heart goes out to them all.

Background

Edward Dillard was a former high school teacher and baseball coach. The senator said his father died at home after battling colon cancer and a broken hip.

Kirk Dillard said that even though his father had been in poor health, the death still came as a shock.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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* Bears open thread
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* Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards
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