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Timing is everything

Thursday, Jun 14, 2012

* Yesterday, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady issued yet another press release slamming Attorney General Lisa Madigan. This time, it was over AG Madigan’s alleged abdication of her role as a crime fighter in the wake of an “explosion in gang violence”

“Under Attorney General Madigan, we have seen an explosion in gang violence, including murders of innocent bystanders and Lisa Madigan has done nothing to combat it,” said Brady. “In New York, the state’s top law officer leads the charge in major anti gang operations, most recently indicting 52 for gang and drug activity.”

There has been over 30 homicides in the City of Chicago since the end of the NATO Summit on May 21st.

“Here in Illinois, Lisa Madigan is content issuing edicts about the perils of buying a used car,” Brady added. “She has abdicated her role as the State’s Chief Law enforcement officer. As Attorney General, she has the tools to fight gang violence but unfortunately, she has chosen not to use them.”

* Wow. That was pretty darned harsh. But later in the day, the US Department of Justice issued this press release

Nineteen Chicago area men, many suspected members or associates of the of the Imperial Gangsters street gang, were arrested yesterday by FBI special agents and Chicago Police officers assigned to the FBI’s Joint Task Force on Gangs, culminating a nearly three-year long investigation which targeted illicit drug and firearms sales in and around the Humboldt park area on Chicago’s near northwest side.

Yesterday’s arrests were announced by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who was joined by Garry F. McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD); Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney, Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General, and Michael Witz, Chief of the Franklin Park Police Department. […]

Regarding the combined efforts that led to the charges, Attorney General Madigan said, “These arrests demonstrate how effective coordination between law enforcement agencies at all levels can produce significant results in fighting drug dealing and gang activity.” [Emphasis added.]

* I asked the AG’s office about Chairman Brady’s comparison with New York. The response…

This comparison of the NY and Illinois AG offices is comparing apples-to-oranges. So, let’s dispense with that right off the bat. In New York, the state passed a law in 1970 creating a Statewide Organized Crime Task Force, putting the AG in charge of that task force (the AG and Governor jointly select the head of the task force), and providing that the head of the task force “may request and shall receive” assistance from every agency of state government (including the State Police) and every political subdivision (including local police departments). So, based on that 1970 law, the AG (working with the Gov) oversees a statewide task force with the power to command assistance from every police department in the state. In addition to that, the NY AG’s office employs 225 sworn police officer investigators. By way of comparison, Illinois does not have a similar statute providing such broad criminal authority and access to state and local law enforcement resources, and our office employs fewer than 20 sworn investigators.

With the inapt comparison to NY out of the way, let’s look at the situation in Illinois. Here, as you know, the significant statewide police resources are in the hands of the Illinois State Police and the broad jurisdiction to prosecute crimes is in the hands of the county state’s attorneys. They have much broader criminal jurisdiction than our office (whereas we have very broad jurisdiction under the civil laws). With that as the background, our office’s criminal prosecution resources are dedicated to assisting state’s attorneys when requested, working with state’s attorneys on cases where we have unique resources (such as using our Internet Crimes Against Children task force to work with local law enforcement and state’s attorneys to investigate and prosecute child pornography—thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice) and enforcing statutes that give our office jurisdiction (for example, we prosecute sexually violent persons cases all over the state).

Under the Statewide Grand Jury Act, we have limited jurisdiction to convene a grand jury to investigate and prosecute cases that cross county lines and involve narcotics – but only if we can explain to a judge (1) why a local county grand jury cannot effectively handle the case and (2) that the state’s attorneys for the counties in which the crimes are occurring have consented to the Statewide Grand Jury. And if you think about the resources available, it makes sense that the Cook County State’s Attorney, with hundreds of prosecutors and a grand jury sitting every week, would not require the assistance of our office. Where we focus our efforts is in collaborating with state’s attorney’s offices that have significantly fewer resources, as well as with other federal, state and local agencies whenever possible.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


28 Comments
  1. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:09 am:

    Lisa makes a pretty strong case for eliminating her office…


  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:09 am:

    It takes a special kind of stupid to think the Illinois Attorney General has an on-the-street role in gang crimes.

    Brady probably knows that. I think he’s just ratcheting up the rhetoric prior to the 2010 elections.

    What? It’s 2012? Where’s the staff work on this….


  3. - Commonsense in Illinois - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:12 am:

    Ready, Fire, Aim…


  4. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:14 am:

    If a bill to give the Illinois AG the same authority and resources as the NY AG were introduced in Illinois, the downstate Republican State’s Attorneys would oppose it as a power grab and the Republican legislators would follow suit. They would further oppose it due to cost. Brady’s charges are absurd.


  5. - roadiepig - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:14 am:

    No sense letting facts get in the way of the sermon you are preaching to you choir…


  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:15 am:

    There’s plenty to criticize Lisa about. She’s done relatively little, compared to the most active state AG’s, about consumer protection or corporate fraud. But she’s absolutely right on this one.


  7. - too obvious - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:16 am:

    This coming from Pat Brady who has abdicated his role as gop party chair.

    Someone please get the hook. Republicans cringe everytime this clown opens his mouth. And why so much personal hate from Brady for the Madigans? First Michael, now his daughter.

    The Brady Bunch couldn’t beat Blago with these immature attacks, it’s certainly not going to work against the hugely popular Lisa Madigan.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:22 am:

    I would say Brady is ignorant (Webster Definition, please), however, Brady was an assistant Federal Prosecuter, or at least worked for a US Attorney, so it seems like bit of Bravado, but the Bravado is light on facts.

    I was once told that when a US Attorney’s Office says something, it has a great deal of weight. When a US Attorney says nothing, that too has a great deal of weight.

    All I have been hearing is how the IL AG Office has been helpful in ALL investigations, and have YET to hear anything negative from the US Attorney’s Office about Lisa and her Crew.

    Further,

    If Brady wants the IL AG to be like the NY State AG, then the revamping of the Legal Protocol here in IL will be an intersting trip to take for all. Lots of changes, so many it might be easier to change that apple to that orange.

    When you have a US Attorney’s Office dinging Lisa or the AG Office, then type up that press release. Otherwise, the yapping just to yap, from an attorney, a former assitant US Attorney at that, is just a bit pathetic.


  9. - Bill - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:26 am:

    I didn’t know Brady was a former ausa. That explains it.


  10. - Louis G. Atsaves - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:29 am:

    Perhaps someone should be asking how exactly the Illinois Attorney General’s office assisted in this most recent gang bust? Did she have an army of investigators on the street? A group of assistant AG’s?

    Just wondering?


  11. - Wing Ding - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:30 am:

    There are plenty of reasons for the IL GOP to poke the IL dems for, but Lisa Madigan’s performance isn’t one of them. I didn’t vote for her, but she had done a good job. She is also one of the more popular politicians in the state, despite having a father who is one of the most unpopular. Think about it. And as for Pat Brady, he done an exceptional job of failing to lead the GOP. On a daily basis, the dems hand him legitimate weapons to use, and this is the card he plays? Fail, clown. Fail.


  12. - Robert - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:30 am:

    Brady is out to lunch on this. Lisa Madigan has aspirations for higher office and tends to take on popular causes; if there was a way for her to be more involved in anything “tough on crime,” she’d seize the opportunity.


  13. - Objective Dem - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:31 am:

    Brady is insignificant and will have little impact hurling bombs at Lisa. She is pretty much is bulletproof.


  14. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:34 am:

    They’re just gearing up for the presumptive democratic candidate for governor in 2014.


  15. - Fed up - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:38 am:

    Hmm so according to lisa herself she had no role in the recent gang arrests but went to the news confrence and spoke because well getting on tv in Chicago is more important then anything else. If your a nursing home operator or a payday loan store Lisa is happy to get some easy publicity kicking you. If your and dirty politican or a actual criminal Lisa is happy to say nothing.


  16. - Air-Is-Total - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:39 am:

    Louis - you’re right on. Rather than Rich asking the AG to comment on Bradley’s statement and publishing her defense. Where is the simple and obvious question to her office - “what actions did your office take that warranted your inclusion at the press conference?”


  17. - Thomas - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:45 am:

    A bad rap against Lisa for sure. But the Dems tossed a similar bad rap Jim Ryan’s way in ‘02 for not fighting the corruption of the George Ryan administration.

    The Illinois AG has very limited powers related to criminal prosecutions, whether it’s political corruption or gang crimes. Pat Brady knows that and Blago’s campaign knew that in ‘02. But the voters don’t really grasp the concept, so “the AG-is-soft-on-crime” hit pieces are too easy to pass up for whichever party is out of power.


  18. - Air-Is-Total - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:49 am:

    She invites the rap when she shows up at law enforcement press events. If she has “limited powers” - then she should make “limited appearances”.


  19. - East Sider - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:53 am:

    I just wish the AG’s office had scan and email capability. Every time I’ve requested information, they always have to mail it to me through the USPS. That’s frustrating, archaic and costly.


  20. - Colossus - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 10:01 am:

    East Sider - From my experience with these things in state government, they absolutely have that capability or at the very least access to that capability. And I’m sure the staff doesn’t like it any more than you, it’s way easier to scan and email than fuddle with printing an envelope and postage and all that. This is an intentional choice, for whatever reason.


  21. - Phineas Fogg - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 10:52 am:

    Personally, I am thrilled that Lisa hasn’t been accused of supplying guns to Chicago gang bangers. A little of Eric Holder could have rubbed off on her? SNL might otherwise have had another Illinois elected state official starring in one of their Saturday Night Live skits called “Slow & Indifferent”. Lisa keeps a low-profile as AG and as an Illinois taxpayer, I would rather have “an innate object” in office rather than another “Jack-In-The-Box” like Rod.


  22. - Matt Jones - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 10:54 am:

    With all due respect to the GOP state chairman, the AG’s statement is correct that State’s Attorneys are the primary enforcers of criminal law in Illinois. Prior efforts (by others) at expanding the AG;s authority through the statewide grand jury or otherwise have been resisted by Illinois’ prosecutors as duplicative and potentially conflicting. The AG has asserted their role in areas like methamphetamine and synthetic drugs which have a statewide impact, but our constitutution makes it clear that county elected prosecutors have the primary role in criminal law enforcement. This AG has maximized her role in consumer protection, and worked collaboratively on criminal justice issues with local prosecutors, rather than trying to create a headline grabbing criminal justice portfolio. In my opinion, that approach is to be commended.


  23. - The Captain - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 11:54 am:

    If you’ve ever dealt with the AG’s office two things become immediately obvious: 1) the office is completely impotent, 2) the people who work there are deathly afraid you’re going to figure that out so they overcompensate with a lot of bluster and laughable bullying in the least helpful way possible.

    The AG’s office can’t go after criminal prosecutions of gangs under Madigan any more than it could have criminally prosecuted George Ryan when Jim Ryan was AG. However it is a line of attack that resonates with voters seeing how it got Blagojevich elected in 2002 so I’m not surprised that the GOP is using it.


  24. - Endangered Moderate Species - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 2:03 pm:

    The ILGOP “talking points” strategy was clearly given out last week at their State Convention. “The Madigan’s represent everything that is wrong in Illinois.” This is just the beginning of what we will be hearing up until November. The real facts are inconsequential to a good smear campaign.


  25. - reformer - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 2:04 pm:

    Another cheap shot from Brady. If he thinks he can do the job better, let him run for AG in ‘14.


  26. - Jumer's - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 7:36 pm:

    I don’t think Brady is an attorney. That would be an interesting race :)


  27. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 8:36 pm:

    Brady IS an Attorney…


  28. - wishbone - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 9:46 pm:

    Oh good, we have won the war on drugs. Thank God for people like Lisa Madigan.


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