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Roger and me

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

* I guess I can reveal this now since he passed away last Saturday, but Roger Stanley and I used to talk on the phone all the time when his company handled the House Republicans’ mail program.

Roger would call just as soon as then House Republican Leader Lee Daniels’ chief of staff Michael Tristano left his office. He’d then brief me about what was in the mailers and whatever else was on Tristano’s mind and I’d get some great stories for subscribers.

The House Republicans were always furious that they obviously had a leakage problem, but to my knowledge they never caught Roger and I always tried to be careful with how I reported whatever he told me so he wouldn’t get caught.

* Despite our frequent chats over many years, I never once met the man. He invited me to accompany him on election night, 1998, when his old friend George Ryan was elected governor. He said he’d rented a limo, was getting some “broads,” as he called them, and some booze and insisted that I come along. I politely declined. I have to work on election nights, I explained. There were no hard feelings.

I can’t remember how or why we began talking on the phone. But he was a heckuva source, baby, and I’ve missed him ever since he got into trouble with the law. He knew everybody, and he was privy to tons of incredible stuff, much of which he passed on to me. There was never a dull moment, lemme tell ya.

* Apparently, the feds loved the way Stanley talked, too. You really should read his Sun-Times obit in its entirety, but here’s a snippet

Former state lawmaker Roger Stanley, an informant for the feds in a corruption investigation that led to the trial and conviction of former Gov. George Ryan, has died.

Stanley, a longtime colorful figure in state politics who carried the moniker “The Hog,” died Saturday after “living the good life in Costa Rica,” according to his death notice. He was 71. […]

Stanley finally agreed to sit down with prosecutors and so began a long relationship with the feds — one that involved regular meetings in a “secret FBI office” in Chicago for more than a year, [former assistant US attorney Michael Ettinger] said.

“He had a great personality,” said Ettinger. “He was very entertaining to talk to — had story after story.” […]

“He did sit down and essentially give us a tutorial from his perspective on how all this stuff works,” [former assistant US attorney Patrick Collins] said of Stanley. “He was very helpful on how what later would be called “pay to play” sort of worked. He was a firsthand player and he provided that firsthand knowledge to us.” […]

“He ended up being an entertaining colorful person, who ultimately when you sat down with him, told it like it was,” Collins said.

The downside, of course, is that he ratted out the very people who made him so rich and successful, chief among them George Ryan. Lee Daniels was a Ryan protege, and George never let him forget it. So Stanley was a must-hire for Lee and Tristano, who was also taken down by the feds.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Norseman - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Only had to deal with him a few times in person. He was definitely one of those larger than life people. May he rest in peace.

  2. - A guy... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    He paid on time. That made him a joy to do business with in the business community.

  3. - Marlin - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    Did he die in Costa Rica?

  4. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    In some ways, the Illinois GOP has never recovered from the takedown Stanley helped orchestrate. It took down people in the executive, GA-associated and boards.

    According to an old Trib article, Stanley was looking at five years, but got 28 months for his wide-ranging cooperation.

    I guess he really wanted that extra couple of years in Costa Rica.

  5. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    –He paid on time.–

    Dirty money, daddio.

  6. - Conservative Republican - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    I never knew him and knew little about him, but my perception was that he was probably a scumbag. Your post puts all questions to rest: he was a scumbag.

  7. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    Larger than life man, who was one of few people who could have said they are “of the times they lived” and actually meant that. Speaks volumes to all that he was, good and bad, and every story, laugh, swear, in between.

  8. - Nobody's Perfect - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:46 pm:

    Many always wondered if Roger led the G to Stu Levine or if that was totally part of the Lee and AntiChrist foot race to turn someone in? The latter race won by Daniels

  9. - MrJM (@MisterJayEm) - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    A Trib story from last year says Illinois paid him a pension of about $78,000 a year.

    – MrJM

  10. - overcooked - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    I knew the Hog well enough to have him do work for me and have drinks and dinner with him. He was facinating and I wasn’t that mad at him when he ripped me off, because he did that to his best friends. RIP indeed.

  11. - A guy... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    ===wordslinger - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    –He paid on time.–

    Dirty money, daddio.===

    No argument on that Slinger. The only thing worse than dirty money is late or unpaid dirty money. He had his hands all over mailings for GA members. Meanest negative mail ever…hard to even hold in your hands. Artists and printers don’t care much about content. Just deadlines and payment. Dirty or not, he met both. Hard to believe the guy doing this stuff came across as such a nice fellow. But he did. History will show he didn’t own the franchise on dirty mail or dirty money. The real award winners worked for the other side. Dude had to learn somewhere. Roger turned out to be an equal opportunity destroyer of careers as time went on. Illinois = Weird justice.

  12. - Interested Observer - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    A lot of Republicans thought Roger “The Rughead” Stanley was on Madigan’s payroll given how bad his mailing lists were and the inept political advice he gave to House Republicans. Lee only kept him on the payroll because he was ordered to do so by Don Udstuen, another man notorious for doling out bad political advice that ensured permanent minority status for the House Republicans.

  13. - Marlin - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    I had heard he was named after TVs “Boss Hogg”; however, I heard an alternate story (from a person that knew him) that people referred to him as the Hog, because when he was through with you (or whatever) there was nothing left.

  14. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    Yes, there was nothing quite like seeing the assembly lines whirring by at Unistat with mail from opposing candidates in the same state rep race at the same time.

    His mailing lists were a joke. His content was terrible. His bills often were inaccurate. His principles were AWOL. And his toupee was a horror.

  15. - Still anonymous - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    I had some contact with Roger as a young staffer, and I would have to agree that some of Interested Observer’s point are spot-on. I also remember someone who could be kind and generous, even to someone so low on the totem pole that he didn’t have to been nice.

  16. - Downstate - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    Wow! Was just thinking about him a few days ago. As a college student, I was seeking an internship with the House Republicans.

    Thought I had a good resume. Never got a response back from Roger, nor would he return a phone call.

    A Garth Brooks song entitled, “Unanswered Prayers” is spot on. Roger did me a HUGE FAVOR by never responding.

  17. - Jon A. Zahm - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    Now that Roger has passed, I can tell some old war stories too.

    Back in 1992 I was helping Bill Damisch in his 4 way State Rep. GOP primary in Kane County. We ended up losing that one by about 100 votes to Pat Lindner. But Roger was doing the creative, printing and mailings for Damisch, Lindner, and Pat Sharpe in that race. I was in the back warehouse picking up the Damisch overruns and came across the pallets of our opponents’ stuff. He earned the moniker of “the Hog.”

    As a young consultant doing primary challenges I was often taking on the Daniels/Tristano/Clarke/Cirks/Anderson machine. Roger would have me sneak in and out the back door thru the warehouse when we were in the final days so the House GOP staff would not know I was putting out the mail against them from the same shop. Roger never liked Tristano, that’s for sure. Must be why he leaked to you, Rich. I think Roger was more of a Pate guy then a Daniels guy in DuPage.

    Another funny story is Roger would talk to me about how to do door to door campaigning. He wss elected as a State Rep. in his 20’s in the Streamwood area and he would win some precincts by margins of like a 100 to 5. And he told me “I know who every one of those mother f***ers are that voted against me.” He also told me how to work a nursing home. “Pin a f***ing flower on every one of their chests. They love that.”

    Another time I was doing a local campaign that included a new citizen group as the author. The side targeted in the piece traced the permit back to Roger’s shop. He called me and said something to the effect of “Some mother f***er from Kane County was here asking questions. I threw him out on his ass.” So I guess Roger could keep a confidence when he wanted to.

    One thing he did that I did not like (besides the obvious things) was the nasty, libelous mailers he put out against Cal Skinner for Ann Hughes and the House GOP when they assassinated Cal in the prumary. I tried to get Roger to stop, but he didn’t like conservative Republicans in general (me as an exception), and hated Skinner for some reason, in particular.

    Well, RIP, Roger. You were indeed a larger than life character.

  18. - horse w/ no name - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 5:03 pm:

    I knew The Hog professionally and even went on one of those famous Costa Rican fishing trips. I will not discuss the details of those trips but he was a wild man. Honest? No, but he was a hell of a lotta fun. Reminds me a quote about famed lawyer Oscar Acosta: “There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

  19. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 5:03 pm:

    He was an insider and a preferred vendor, but his mailing lists were out of date, especially for Chicago. Thoroughly corrupt. Not a bad guy if looks, brains and personality are not taken into consideration.

  20. - out and about - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 6:49 pm:

    This post is why i dont post on this site. Any more. Absebce of malice

  21. - WarStory - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 8:05 pm:

    Knew Stosh from way back in Streamwood. He was the Hog later. Got the moniker working Roger Mc Sr campaigns on the northwet side. It was for Boss Hogg on the Dukes of Hazzard He used to yell at us behind the desk…He was ruthless, cunning, yes. But he had the best political instincts I’ve ever seen except for MJM.
    Taught this shark how swim.
    Will miss u RCS

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