There may not be a completely direct connection here to yet another alleged mobster, but Radogno’s point at the end should be addressed.
Former state Sen. John Dâ€™Arco â€” twice convicted of federal corruption charges â€” is involved in a land deal financed by a bank thatâ€™s owned by the family of Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic candidate for Illinois treasurer.
Official records in Florida indicate that Mr. Dâ€™Arco and two convicted bookmakers joined in March 2001, to incorporate a company that acquired the Lorraine Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla. Two months later, the firm received the first of a series of mortgage loans from Broadway Bank, where Mr. Giannoulias is a vice-president.
Mr. Giannoulias and the bank Tuesday released nearly identical statements saying that Mr. Dâ€™Arco, whose name does not appear on mortgage papers, â€œhas never been a loan applicant, recipient, co-signer, guarantor or customerâ€ of Broadway, and does not hold an ownership share in the hotel deal.
But Florida records also indicate that Mr. Dâ€™Arco signed legal papers in connection with renovation of the hotel in October 2001 â€” four months after Broadway issued its first mortgage loan. […]
In April, after a series of media reports about Broadway loans, Mr. Giannoulias promised to review all loans at the bank for problems â€œand behold, he never mentioned this,â€ [Republican opponent Christine Radogno] said. â€œHeâ€™s not forthcoming. Instead, things are coming out little by little. How much more is out there?â€
I didn’t notice this until the Giannoulias campaign sent me an e-mail. The Sun-Times and the Sun-Times News Group have endorsed the entire statewide Democratic slate. They lead with Alexi. [Actually, the Sun-Times News Group endorsed Giannoulias. The other papers are apparently allowed to go their own way on the other races.]
Over the last several elections, Illinois voters have increasingly trended toward Democratic candidates. This year, the Democrats offer for statewide offices an attractive field of candidates that includes three incumbents and one political novice. The newcomer to politics is Alexi Giannoulias, who is the choice of the Sun-Times News Group for state treasurer. Giannoulias, though still a young man, will bring valuable private enterprise experience from banking to the job. […]
While that banking experience is the reason we’re endorsing Giannoulias, that background also has opened him up to criticism over some of the bank’s loans. He’s been accused of making million-dollar loans to felons. He insists there was nothing improper in those transactions, says that the bank doesn’t do criminal background checks on bank customers, but admits he’s been too cavalier in answering questions about the loans. Still, Giannoulias hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing, and the loans were repaid. In other words, the community bank, which was in the business of making loans, did just that.
We believe Giannoulias’ banking experience will help him bring creative money management ideas to the treasurer’s office. For instance, Giannoulias outlined a securities lending program that he’d like to explore. The investment strategy, temporarily lending out state-owned securities, is being used in Connecticut, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio to boost investment portfolio returns. Other of his priorities include improving the “Bright Start” college savings program and promoting home-grown ethanol-based renewable fuels. Giannoulias proposes that the treasurer’s office offer low-interest loans to gas station owners who convert to offer E-85 fuel in Illinois.
His Republican opponent, state Sen. Christine Radogno, has an impressive background in politics and legislative work on fiscal issues, but our vote goes to the new ideas offered by Giannoulias.
In case you’re wondering, my occasional little column gives me zero influence over Sun-Times editorial policy. They don’t tell me what to write, and I don’t tell them what to write. Obviously.
I’ve asked this before, but with two weeks remaining I thought I’d ask again.
Are the national Republicans heading for total disaster on election day? With the Democrats pick up the US House and US Senate? Yes, this is a national question, and I usually try to avoid them, but to give it a local twist I’d like you to also note whether you think any GOP disaster/non-disaster will have an impact on Illinois races, including the governor’s race.
The governor appeared at the Daily Herald editorial board yesterday.
Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich predicted Monday his campaign fundraising friend won’t be indicted for corruption, argued it’s not a bad thing that his plan to sell the lottery leaves a $1 billion school funding shortfall, and apologized for once comparing state lawmakers to “drunken sailors.” […]
The indictment alleged Rezko worked on the scheme with an “Individual B,” whom multiple sources have identified to the Daily Herald and other media outlets as Christopher Kelly, a roofing contractor and another top fundraiser for the governor.
Asked if he’ll stand by Kelly in the event of an indictment, Blagojevich said he wouldn’t answer, because “I don’t believe that will ever happen.”
The governor also said he was surprised the Rezko had been indicted and said Rezko was never a close adviser.
“He’s a friend of mine, I don’t dispute that. Never a key adviser. He made recommendations to agencies. I sought out his advice on recommendations for agency directors because we wanted diversity in my administration,” Blagojevich said.
Diversity? That’s some interesting spin.
The governor finally gave a straight answer on the $1500 check, after waffling for weeks over which daughter may have benefitted from it.
“That was a birthday gift to my daughter, pure and simple,” he said Monday. “And I disclosed it. Followed the law.”
*I asked Blagojevich if, given all the oceans of newspaper ink that have been spilled the past four years about his ethics and numerous policy ideas, what he would take back. The governor paused for a while, as you might expect given that type of question, then threw out some Ditka-esque â€œIn life..â€-type rhetoric, even quoting Socrates at one point: â€œThe unexamined life is not worth living.â€ […]
*The governor also gave what I believe to be a preview to what his statements will be after Fridayâ€™s guilty plea by Stuart Levine in the teacher pension corruption case. â€œYouâ€™ve got a longtime Republican operative in Stuart Levine,â€ Blagojevich said. â€œBy all accounts, and I suspect weâ€™ll learn more shortly, this was probably a continuation of a scheme that happened long before I was governorâ€¦It spilled into my first year and got detected at some point during that time.â€ The governor also said Rezko somehow got involved with Levine during 2003, his first year in office.
The full transcript is expected tomorrow.
*** UPDATE *** Gov. Blagojevich can recite the list of John Wayne’s B movies, he can rattle off 40-year-old lineups from long gone baseball teams, has memorized the lyrics to just about every Elvis song ever recorded, but has a difficult time recalling much of what happened during less than four years in statewide office.
Governor Rod Blagojevich says he doesn’t remember getting a list of people that a now-indicted friend and fundraiser wanted to be appointed to state boards.
Blagojevich doesn’t deny getting the list. He said today that it’s no secret that Tony Rezko recommended people to serve in his administration.
The Democratic governor wouldn’t comment on what he discussed with Rezko when the two met around the time the list was written.
This is pretty solid evidence that Stroger’s campaign is flailing late in the game.
What was billed as a kickoff for the “Rod and Todd Show” instead stumbled getting out of the gate Monday.
More than 100 ministers gathered at New Spiritual Light Missionary Baptist Church, 7566 S. South Shore Dr., armed with campaign fliers and signs touting the candidacies of Rod Blagojevich for governor and Todd Stroger for Cook County Board president.
But Stroger was almost two hours late for the event and Blagojevich was a no-show.
Stroger campaign officials said he was delayed by earlier campaign appearances, while Blagojevich campaign officials said he never committed to the event and instead had staffers there on his behalf.
“Bizarre” is the word that immediately comes to mind.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich leads his opponent in cash and in the polls while Cook County Board president candidate Todd Stroger is struggling on both counts, but both are quietly exploring how to benefit each other by mobilizing African-American turnout.
Sources familiar with each Democrat’s campaign said plans are in the works for a rapid-fire, street-level effort to begin in the hours shortly before Nov. 7 to secure a large turnout of African-American voters–a core voting bloc essential for both men. […]
Publicly, Blagojevich has been making Stroger part of his campaign pitch, including at recent stops in the city’s black wards. On Saturday, Blagojevich campaign workers yelled, “Vote for Rod and Todd!” as a truck with campaign signs for the two idled nearby. Inside a South Side Target store where he was campaigning, Blagojevich enthusiastically told one shopper, “You should vote for Todd–and Rod.”
In an election for Governor of Illinois today, 10/23/06, incumbent Democrat Rod Blagojevich’s support is down, Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka’s support is down, and Green Party Candidate Rich Whitney’s support has doubled, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for KSDK-TV St. Louis. Blagojevich today gets 44%, down 1 from an identical SurveyUSA KSDK-TV poll released 9/20/06. Topinka gets 34% today, down 5 points from 9/20. Whitney gets 14%, twice the 7% he got on 9/20. SurveyUSA observes that in two Governor polls released today 10/23, all “major party” candidtaes are down; minor party candidates are up. Could this mean that the anti-Republican sentiment detected in a number of SurveyUSA polls over the past 21 days is now manifesting itself more generally into an anti-establishment, anti-insider movement? Time, and more polling, will tell. It is possible the phenomenon is limited to Maine and Illinois, and not extensible elsewhere. That said, it is interesting enough to take note of, here.
Among Illinois independents, the candidates are effectively tied: Topinka gets 31%, Whitney 29%, Blagojevich 27%. Topinka had led Blagojevich by 12 among Independents, now leads Whitney by 2 in this group, where Whitney has doubled his support. 73% of Democrats vote for Blagojevich. 74% of Republicans vote for Topinka. Among female voters, Blagojevich is down 10 points; Whitney is getting many of these female votes; his support has tripled, from 4% to 11%, among women.
Among white voters, Topinka is down 5, Blagojevich is down 4. Whitney is up 9. In the Collar Counties of Chicago, Blagojevich is down 9, Topinka is down 2. Whitney is up 13. Blagojevich leads 3:1 in Chicago. Topinka leads 4:3 downstate. Blagojevich was first elected Governor in 2002. Topinka has been Illinois Treasurer since 1994.
Could there be fireworks this Friday at Stu Levine’s federal hearing? The I-Team claims “Yes.”
The I-Team has learned that Levine wore a wire for the government and details of those conversations will be made public for the first time in federal court on Friday. […]
Sources close to the investigation tell the I-Team that the secret recordings Levine made while conducting crooked deals could be the missing link to several of Governor Blagojevich’s top associates and campaign fundraisers. Among them: the governor’s political guru Christopher Kelly, a roofer by trade who has been identified by federal sources as “individual B” in the Levine indictment. […]
Chris Kelly has not been charged with committing any crimes, nor have federal prosecutors cited him by name. Kelly’s attorney Michael Monico says he would be stunned if there were charges lodged against his client and that he doubts Kelly will be heard on any undercover recordings made by Stuart Levine.
Meanwhile, Topinka’s campaign is still dark. The Blagojevich people say she’s broke. The Topinka people say not to worry, an ad is on the way. We’ll all see soon enough.
* Today’s afternoon update from WBBM 780 is below. The station’s website is here, you can subscribe to the station’s afternoon updates by clicking here. The afternoon show has a piece about Peter Roskam’s press conference.
* WBEZ has a story up about the state Senate committee hearing today on a statewide smoking ban. All of Chicago Public Radio’s latest stories can be found at this link.
* WBEZ’s full afternoon update is below, or go here.
Michael J. Fox is coming to Illinois for a stem cell research press pop for Tammy Duckworth. From a Duckworth press release:
Sixth District Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth will hold a rally with Michael J. Fox on Tuesday to address the importance of stem cell research.
Fox did a TV ad in Missouri a few days ago, and it’s one of the most powerful spots I’ve seen all year.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton was in town today for Duckworth and Melissa Bean.
Former President Bill Clinton helped raise $800,000 at a fundraiser today for Democrats Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Representative Melissa Bean. […]
Earlier this month, President Bush came to Illinois for a fundraiser to help their GOP opponents, Peter Roskam and David McSweeney.
A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman says about 600 people attended the fundraiser in downtown Chicago.
The former president urged the candidates to target all voters — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — as they work toward next month’s election.
…But all did not go extremely well, for either Clinton or Duckworth’s GOP opponent, Peter Roskam. Animal Farm:
*The event was closed to the press. After much pressure from reporters (including myself) over the weekend, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee relented and had a “media availability” with Clinton, Bean and Duckworth. Now, you might think that means all three would take questions. But no. Duckworth ducked questions from the press. Clinton took none. Only Bean came back to take questions from reporters. Duckworth, I’m told, was barely visible on the dais because college-age supporters blocked the view. Oh, and Clinton was 45 minutes late.
*The Clinton debacle unfolded after Duckworth’s Republican foe, Peter Roskam, had his own logistical nightmare. Roskam scheduled a news conference with the father of 9/11 victim Todd Beamer to criticize Clinton on national security. Well, Roskam thought he could hold his press conference in the lobby of the Hilton, the same place the fund-raiser was taking place. A couple problems with that: the hotel was on security lockdown because of Clinton’s presence. And the hotel was the home to a lot of marathoners from yesterday’s race, and they had events going on too. The hotel manager read Roskam campaign manager Ryan McLaughlin the riot act when he arrived, and made the Roskam campaign rent a room at the hotel to have their press conference.
Yesterday, Governor Blagojevich offered his help for a possible Barack Obama presidential bid.
“He has to make that decision for himself, and I would imagine he’ll spend a lot of time consulting with his wife, with his family before making a decision like that. But if he were to do something like that I’d be eager to help him,” Blagojevich said.
How do you think Obama reacted? Snark heavily encouraged.
The governor can deny that he had anything to do with Rezko all he wants, but stories like this undercut his every word. Today’s Sun-Times piece puts some questionable behavior right in the governor’s very own lap.
One nondescript page — containing 19 names and a note to Gov. Blagojevich from his chief of staff — shows the clout Antoin “Tony” Rezko once wielded in state government.
“Rod, Here is a list of candidates that Tony Rezko wants to be put on non-paying boards. What are your thoughts?” Blagojevich’s former top aide, Lon Monk, wrote in a note faxed to the governor along with the Jan. 20, 2003, list.
Of the 19 people named on the document, obtained exclusively by the Chicago Sun-Times, 10 wound up being appointed by the governor to a state board or commission — or got a spouse named. Others wound up with contracts underwritten by taxpayers, or their children got state jobs amid a Blagojevich hiring freeze.
The governor, meanwhile, got more than $830,000 in campaign contributions dating back to 2001 from 15 people on the list, or from their businesses, state records show. The Blagojevich campaign called that figure an “inaccurate representation of the facts.” […]
Fifteen days after the governor’s office faxed the list to Blagojevich’s home, Blagojevich met with Rezko at Rezko’s real estate office at 853 N. Elston for an hour and 45 minutes, according to the governor’s schedule. […]
The Blagojevich campaign said it could attribute only about $80,000 in political contributions to those identified on the Rezko list. The larger Sun-Times tally includes individual contributions, donations from companies those individuals owned and, in one instance, dollars from a labor organization that operates under a top union official appointed by the governor.
The note and the list can be seen here. Make special note of the people listed as “Priority.” Two of them were appointed to the thoroughly corrupt hospital board, which was essentially controlled by Stu Levine. One is the wife of a Rezko busines partner whose tollway restaurant records have been subpoenaed by the feds.
The Sun-Times starts off our roundup with an endorsement of Todd Stroger.
Change must come to Cook County government, no matter who wins the race for county board president. The old way of doing things, personified by the honorable yet inflexible former president John Stroger, will not suffice any more. Because both parties have fielded candidates who are promising to shake things up in the $3 billion-a-year government, the question therefore becomes, who is more likely to succeed? While we believe Republican Tony Peraica is a qualified and experienced candidate who would be dedicated to reform, we fear his agenda would founder on the rocks of the county’s Democratic domination, paralyzing his tenure. We therefore endorse Democrat Todd Stroger, the 8th Ward alderman and the son of the former president.
Peraica’s campaign called the editorial “Stuck on stupid redux” and released a statement from consultant Dan Proft.
“The Sun-Times’ extraordinary and confounding endorsement of Todd Stroger for County Board President is, quite simply, a violation of the public trust.
“Besides flying in the face of common sense and the manifest weight of the evidence in this race, it is completely at odds with virtually every Sun-Times commentator who has weighed in on this campaign.
It goes on and on, but you get the drift. If you want to read the whole thing, I turned it into a text file that you can download here.
Meanwhile, Bill Beavers asked the governor on Friday (through the media) to pony up $100,000 from his obese campaign chest to help fund the Stroger effort The governor responded Saturday that he had agreed to give Todd some money, but he couldn’t resist putting the onus on everybody else.
“We are working on gathering contributions for Todd,” he said. “We are in the process of getting … Mike Madigan to be a good party chairman and help … We’re looking to get … Lisa Madigan to help Todd Stroger because she doesn’t have a race of any consequence. We want the other candidates who … don’t have hard races to help … If they’ll help, we’ll help.”
House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown said his boss has supported Stroger financially and has “no idea what the governor is talking about.”
Perhaps I can translate for Brownie. “I’m not going to give any money to Stroger out of my campaign fund because I may need it for, um, other things. I will, however, raise money for Stroger from other people like Lisa and Mike Madigan.”
While his campaign says it’s broke and his allies hit up the governor for cash, Cook County Board presidential candidate Todd Stroger has quietly formed a new campaign fund that is collecting tens of thousands of dollars every day.
Stroger’s campaign officials waited more than two months to notify the state about this new fund — a delay that may be illegal. […]
According to those reports, Stroger’s new campaign fund has pulled in $261,636 in 149 large donations in just 11 days.
Springfield attorney Mary Lee Leahy must give a deposition in an Illinois Department of Transportation wrongful-firing lawsuit, and the questioning will not be limited to the one agency, a federal judge ruled Friday.
In a setback to the state, Judge Byron Cudmore said Leahy must answer questions about her work for more than a dozen state agencies during the six months she was a contractor for Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration. Leahy, best known for getting the U.S. Supreme Court to outlaw most political patronage through the Rutan decision, was employed to review state hiring practices and identify unnecessary jobs.
Seventeen former IDOT employees are suing the state, claiming they were illegally fired by the Democratic administration because they are Republicans. Lawyers for those employees want to question Leahy about personnel activities in the early days of the Blagojevich administration. […]
“Plaintiffs allege that the defendants participated in an illegal, statewide scheme to fire supporters of the Republican (George) Ryan administration in violation of the employees’ First Amendment rights,” Cudmore wrote. “Leahy’s work with state officials outside of (IDOT) may be relevant to this claim or may lead to relevant evidence related to this claim.”
And Finke finds more taxpayer subsidies of the governor’s campaign fund.
Last week, Peoria resident DIANE FREEBURG received an envelope from the Department of Revenue. In it was a brief message saying that all Illinoisans who filed tax returns were getting information about prescription drug assistance. (It was only those over 65.) The drug information was contained in a separate letter in the envelope from, ta-daa, Blagojevich. We know this because the letterhead says “Office of the Governor. Rod Blagojevich, Governor.” Just to get the point across, he also signed the letter.
“I believe that everyone deserves access to good, affordable health care,” writes the governor, sounding like one of his paid TV commercials. “I also believe that no senior citizen should ever have to worry about how to pay for the high cost of prescription drugs.”
The letter then explains the state’s prescription drug assistance program for seniors.
The Department of Revenue mailed the letter, but the production originated with the Department on Aging, said Revenue spokesman MIKE KLEMENS. For the record, 329,000 letters were mailed at a cost of $103,000. Aging picked up the cost.
Blagojevich spokesman GERARDO CARDENAS said the letters were mailed now because people already enrolled in the program must renew by Dec. 31. Also, November is open enrollment for Medicare, and seniors will be focused on their possible need for prescription drug assistance.
The governor’s flimsy responses–he doesn’t know, he can’t recall, he’s the victim here–insult the people of Illinois.
The governor who promised in 2002 to “end business as usual” would have you pay no attention to the gathering evidence of broad corruption.
He points to his efforts in health care and education. He has indeed expanded access to health care for Illinois children. He has expanded government-funded preschool. The governor says, next up: universal health care in Illinois!
But he refuses to acknowledge that he can’t pay for all those things. He can’t pay for the government we already have. The state’s long-term debt has grown dramatically during the Blagojevich administration.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich must take Illinoisans for fools.
You’d have to be a fool to buy the 49-year-old Chicago Democrat’s explanations regarding the ethical misconduct allegations that dog his administration as he tries to defeat GOP challenger Judy Baar Topinka.
* If you can find the Herald & Review’s endorsement, link it in comments.
Newspaper endorsements backing Gov. Rod Blagojevich all refer to the “cloud of scandal” surrounding his administration, but the incumbent Democrat said Sunday he is not concerned with how those comments might shape the public’s perception of him as the Nov. 7 election approaches.
Blagojevich said “real people” are aware of the accomplishments of his first term and understand his administration is not the first to be investigated by federal authorities.
“That’s just the nature of the beast in today’s politics,” Blagojevich said after receiving the endorsement of the Illinois Nurses Association, adding officials in local, state and federal government are increasingly under scrutiny.
I knew they were doing this in the print version, but I hadn’t noticed that they put it online until now. The Daily Southtown is running excerpts from your comments on a regular basis (I think every week). You can see the latest version - from the QOTD “Assume it’s the first 100 days of a Pat Quinn administration. What happens?” - here. Pretty cool. The “empire” will expand even more this week. I’ll have details soon.
Meanwhile, after going through the poll results that we’ve covered here before, my syndicated newspaper column ends thusly:
It seems easy to predict a Blagojevich victory because he’s ahead in every poll, this state leans heavily Democratic and Topinka has been successfully transformed by the governor’s media team from being a respected state elder into a George Ryan hack. But no credible poll shows Blagojevich with enough votes to win, despite all the positive TV ads he’s running. His favorability and job approval ratings are so bad that he hasn’t been able to close the deal.
On the other hand, Topinka’s numbers are even worse. Usually we assume that the vast majority of undecided voters will eventually break towards the challenger. In a “normal” year, Topinka would have a decent shot at closing the gap. But this isn’t a normal year. The undecideds don’t like her, either.
Lots of voters appear to be mulling whether to cast their ballot for the Green Party candidate. Normally, voters will change their mind at the end and go with an established party candidate. But, like I said, this isn’t a normal year. As a result, if Topinka doesn’t change the race’s dynamics right now then Rich Whitney (and Green Party treasurer candidate Dan Schlorff) might end up with a lot more votes than most people think.
Speaking of polls, the Hotline has a funny quip about the latest results:
Topinka is probably quoting Jon Lovitz-as-Michael Dukakis to herself at night: “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.”
Alderman Burt Natarus continues behaving like a man who either doesn’t realize that he’s headed for the toughest re-election fight of his life or doesn’t care.
“Downtown, we have more dogs than people. Everybody’s got to have a dog. You know why? They’re lonely. The young women don’t have kids yet. They’re not married. So, they have a dog as a child. And some of the fellas who don’t want to get married — they want to have kids around, so they have a dog. That’s a substitute,” [Naturus] said.
It’s always the politically smart thing to insult your constituents. Not.