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?