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More check fallout - Updated x1

Wednesday, Sep 13, 2006

This move might possibly not be as desperate as it looks.

Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, beset by questions about personal gifts from people he has appointed to state government positions, attempted on Tuesday to turn the issue on his election challenger, questioning why Republican Judy Baar Topinka’s own disclosure forms list no gifts of any kind.

Blagojevich’s campaign released a statement calling for an investigation to determine “whether Topinka actually received no gifts at all or if she is just ignoring disclosure laws.”

The statement came two days after a published report revealed that the husband of a woman Blagojevich had appointed to a state job gave a $1,500 check to Blagojevich’s young daughter as a gift, shortly after that appointment.

There could be a method to the seeming madness. [Emphasis added.]

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign on Tuesday offered fuller details behind gifts he has received while in office, with a spokeswoman saying that Blagojevich’s friends and family bought him meals and other items that may have exceeded $500 over the course of a single year.

The gifts, particularly the meals, came informally and could not be specifically quantified, campaign spokeswoman Sheila Nix said.

The governor’s office, meanwhile, declined again on Tuesday to provide further details of gifts Blagojevich has received while in office. In state economic interest forms, Blagojevich states that about a dozen people have provided gifts “of personal friendship” totaling more than $500 in a calendar year. That is the threshold at which state law requires the source of a gift to be identified.

Topinka denies that she ever got any $500 gifts.

But I wonder whether the governor’s campaign will now try to come up with evidence that Topinka has accepted multiple meals, etc. that total over $500.

Maybe I’m wrong, and if I am then that was one of the most ridiculously desperate press stunts ever.

Meanwhile, Carol Marin weighs in.

For the record, my kids have never gotten a $1,500 check for their birthdays from a single one of our friends. Not when they were little, not when they got bigger. Not once.

And we have very generous, good friends.

But fifteen hundred bucks is a sizable chunk of change to drop into a kid’s birthday card and, if that kid happens to be the 7-year-old daughter of Rod Blagojevich who ran for governor on the “I’m Not George Ryan” bandwagon, it’s staggeringly stupid.

And the Peoria Journal-Star ran an editorial yesterday that I missed.

Blagojevich has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He has not been charged. But the drumbeat of allegations keeps getting louder. From the investigation of his administration by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald for “very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud” to appointing his children’s baby-sitter to the Illinois Civil Service Commission to the governor’s predilection for giving state jobs and contracts to friends and contributors, well, it’s what one might call a pattern.

As such, Blagojevich will forgive voters who start connecting the dots, and who think the way business is done in Illinois government remains positively Ryan-esque.

UPDATE: I missed Higgins’ cartoon today. It’s about the check. Richard Roeper also led his column today with the controversy.

Let’s say you have a friend who makes $45,000 a year.

Your daughter turns 7. The friend and her husband give her a birthday gift.

It’s a check for $1,500.

Huh? Wouldn’t you think that was entirely, inappropriately too much?

Somebody making 45g’s a year takes home about $615 per week. That means this person would have to work for about 2-1/2 weeks to net $1,500. Even in a double-income household, that’s quite a chunk. How about the “Hannah Montana” soundtrack instead?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - DOWNSTATE - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 8:26 am:

    Sounds like they know there is real problems and how much more will leak out.

  2. - IrishPirate - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 8:44 am:


    The SS Blago is a sinking ship.

    Here are the smart plays, at least in this pirates mind. Mike Madigan calls for Blago to leave the ticket…..he won’t. Blago then loses the election. Lisa runs against the GOP candidate in 2010……….and wins. Or Pat Quinn asks Blago to leave the ticket and says he will stay on as Lt Governor and let someone else head the ticket. Again Blago says no. Blago loses and Quinn sets himself up for a run at the governors office in 2010.


    I need a drink.

  3. - me - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 8:48 am:

    A sure sign that someone has something to hide is when, instead of making sure his own back yard is free from debris, he sends his minions into someone else’s yard — armed with metal detectors and Bobcats.

    Once again, The Big Rod seems to be resorting to the same old deflection tactics to keep the microscope focused on anyone’s slide but his own.

    Putrid is the stench of cowardice.

  4. - Walking Wounded - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 8:52 am:

    Blago pointing fingers at Topinka’s economic interest statement sure sounds like a desperate move to me. The problem, Rod, is not so much the generous birthday gift, but the timing it was given after your close personal friend’s wife got a State job in Whiteside County.
    But, hey, if you can prove Judy sells state jobs, too, I’ll be listening.

  5. - grand old partisan - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 9:02 am:

    “staggeringly stupid” - oh, my

    If the truth hurts, that’s gonna be stinging for weeks!

  6. - KenoMan - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 9:19 am:

    Too bad HotRod doesn’t have the “testicular virility” to answer questions himself about this inappropriate “gift”.

  7. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 9:35 am:

    Of course it is stupid but it is also arrogant. Chicago Machine Democrats like Blago, Daley, et al sell state contracts for campaign contributions, violate Rutan, Shakman and vets preference, and accept questionable gifts including cash because they can. They know Democrats will vote for them anyway and Illinois is a Democatic state. Only about 10 percent of Illinoisians say corruption is an issue in the election.

    This race is over for the governor’s spot and the race is clearly on for 2010. Despite Illinoisians’ lack of concern about corruption, Lisa and Dan are both trying to position themselves as Most Ethical Dem Hopeful, Dan with his audit of Blago’s heavily funded Global Expensive Lunches nonprofit and Lisa with her
    stern opinion on Ryan’s pension. Maybe they figure that Blago (who could yet run for re-election in 2010) is vulnerable on the ethics issue if challenged by another Dem. Anyway, the race is on.

  8. - Anthony - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 10:47 am:

    I think that when the Gov in indicted and Gov. Pat Quinn takes over He will clean up Illinois Government. Yeah I think that Rod will win but the Feds will get him shortly after His re-election.

  9. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 12:05 pm:

    Why didn’t they get the girl a savings bond? Much cheaper and should be mature when she hits college.

  10. - Ghost - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 12:45 pm:

    There is a simple way for Blagojevich to respond to this and dispell any concerns. Blagojevich says this is just a gift from an old family friend that has been around since his childhood. All Blagojevich needs to do is show past occasion where he gave his boyhood friend gifts in the neghborhhod of 1,500.00 and prior occasions where this boyhood friend gave him gifts in this value range. After all, if the gift flows from a long term freindship you would expect the Gov to be giving similiar gifts, and this freidn to have previously made such generous gifts. Otherwise the lack of such gifts over this long standing friendship until the wife got the job provides temporal support for the conlcusion that the two are connected.

  11. - Bubs - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 3:35 pm:


    True, and also be forthright and issue copies of redacted bank records and the check to show that the check indeed went into the daughter’s college trust fund account.

    The fact that Blago has done none of this, but instead responded with a volley of unrelated press announcements - and a swipe at Topinka - speaks volumes, don’t you think?

  12. - Buck Flagojevich - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 4:30 pm:

    Give them time. It isn’t easy to whip up bogus bank records on such short notice.

  13. - Little Egypt - Wednesday, Sep 13, 06 @ 10:01 pm:

    If nothing is found to be amiss with JBT’s disclosure, then would anyone agree with me that perhaps, just perhaps, she is the more ethical of candidates?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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