As I told Capitol Fax readers this morning, the governor is basically using Robert Sorich’s failed defense strategy by attacking these two whistleblowers. First, the set-up:
Gov. Blagojevich’s office aimed Thursday to tighten a noose around two former state personnel workers cooperating with federal authorities in a probe of his administration’s hiring practices, alleging in a new legal filing they’re responsible for giving thousands of politically connected applicants special treatment in state jobs.
The governor’s office submitted thousands of names and related personnel paperwork in a filing with the Illinois Civil Service Commission, which is hearing the case of Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey. The two say they’re being scapegoated for hiring practices passed from on high. Blagojevich has maintained they gave people with clout favorable treatment by allowing them to retake tests, among other things.
The two worked for the Central Management Services Department, handling personnel matters, before being transferred to other state jobs and then fired. They’re asking for their jobs back.
The Tribune brings it home.
Joseph Gagliardo and Gregory James, acting as attorneys for the administration, said there was nothing wrong with the governor’s office recommending or referring certain applicants for jobs.
“It goes back to them [DeFraties and Casey] being gatekeepers,” Gagliardo said. “If something isn’t appropriate, they should have said it [to officials in the governor’s office].”
But Draper said it defied common sense to think that DeFraties and Casey should have stood up to the governor’s office at the same time it was sending them job referrals.
“It’s convenient the governor’s office said they were just faxing over applications but weren’t trying to get special treatment for their people,” Draper said. “That’s nonsense.”
One of Sorich’s claims was that he never ordered anyone to hire applicants. As Daley’s patronage chief, Sorich merely recommended job candidates to the city’s various personnel directors.
Mayor Daley’s patronage office worked behind the scenes to place clout-backed candidates into city jobs by slipping lists of future “hires” to a personnel director, a key witness in the hiring scandal testified Tuesday. […]
Mary Jo Falcon, former director of personnel at the city’s Sewers Department, testified that when she took her position in 1994, she was told whom she answered to.
“My boss was the mayor’s office,” Falcon said she was told by her predecessor, Daniel Exposito.
Her contact was Robert Sorich, the man who headed the mayor’s Intergovernmental Affairs Office, she said. Sorich, along with Timothy McCarthy, John Sullivan and Patrick Slattery, are on trial accused of manipulating the city’s hiring system to reward political workers with jobs.
But Falcon said the IGA, known as the mayor’s patronage office, was intensely involved in hiring decisions in her department, where she worked from 1994 to 2005. She left after federal authorities seized computer files in her office last year. She soon began cooperating.
The Sorich defense didn’t work against testimony from people like Falcon, and I seriously doubt that this Blagojevich move will succeed. From all I can gather, there was also “intense” pressure on state personnel directors to go along with “recommendations” from the governor’s office.
Meanwhile, Krol looks at the impact any indictments could have on the governor’s race.
UPDATE: I should add that the governor’s move may or may not succeed at the Civil Service Commission. I meant whether the tactic succeeds or not with the feds.
I would bet big bucks that what they’re hoping for here is a win at the Commission so they can claim before the election that the governor and his people have been “exonerated” and that the real corruption was perpetrated by two “bad apples.” That might work in the short term. I’m talking about long term.