* From Charlie Wheeler’s latest Illinois Issues column…
After watching Illinois government and politics for more than 40 years, one might reasonably assume that he or she has seen it all.
One — or at least this one — would be wrong. […]
On the other hand, the amazement was understandable to find out that Ty Fahner, president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, was claiming that he and his cohorts had been urging Wall Street agencies to downgrade the state’s credit ratings as a way to pressure lawmakers to slash pension benefits for current and retired public employees.
The story was broken in late July by Rich Miller on his capitolfax.com blog site, a must-read for anyone interested in what’s happening in state government and politics. Miller posted an Illinois Channel video of a Union League Club luncheon last March, at which Fahner said he and some of his Civic Committee colleagues contacted the rating agencies, saying, “How in the hell can you guys do this [maintain the state’s existing credit rating]? You are an enabler to let the state continue.”
Miller’s report drew calls for investigation from We Are One Illinois, a labor coalition working to protect public employee pensions but was ignored by virtually all the major media, save Illinois Public Radio.
Two weeks later, Fahner emailed Miller to say that he “misspoke,” and that no one connected with the Civic Committee had contacted the ratings agencies. […]
What morphed the story from simply “amazing” at what the super-rich might do to protect or enhance their fortunes to the higher level of “unbelievable,” though, is the fact that Fahner also is a current partner and former chairman of Mayer Brown, the Chicago law firm that two years ago won a lucrative contract to serve as the state’s bond counsel.
So in essence, a partner of the law firm advising Illinois on its borrowing — for which it’s already been paid more than $1 million in fees and expenses — was simultaneously stabbing the state in the back by trying to crash its credit rating.
Breath-taking perfidy, even for Illinois, but also a good reminder that one should never, ever say, “Now I’ve seen it all!”
Charlie was also on the latest edition of Illinois Public Radio’s “State Week” and chastised reporters for focusing on the “Statehouse doors” controversy and completely ignoring the Fahner story.