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This just in… Reform and renewal

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2007

* 2:26 pm - These guys just never learn

The Blagojevich administration fired Matt Magalis for leaking a secret report to the media. His lawyer says he’s a whistleblower who should be congratulated.

But the Department of Human Services fired Magalis after an investigation found he gave a report about corruption at the agency to the Chicago Tribune. […]

His lawyer says Magalis feared the Shalabi case would be covered up.

An excerpt from the Trib’s story

The Sept. 29 report by the office of the executive inspector general alleged Shalabi used his state computer to arrange for a “Governor’s Reception” dinner last month to raise money for Blagojevich’s campaign committee from the Arab-American community. […]

A spokeswoman for Blagojevich said that as soon as the governor’s office received the report, Shalabi was put on paid leave until his rights to hearings are exhausted and he can be fired.

“We have no tolerance for the kind of activity that was alleged in this case,” spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said. “When there are allegations that someone isn’t playing by the rules, there’s a system in place to investigate it and make sure that problems don’t go ignored.”

Apparently, the administration also has “no tolerance” for whistleblowers.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - frustrated GOP - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 2:40 pm:

    Attention State Workers:
    Do not send to Tribune, Please send to:

    Patrick J. Fitzgerald
    Dirksen Federal Building
    219 South Dearborn Street,
    Fifth Floor
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    (312) 353-5300
    Thank you very much

  2. - EL SALSA - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 2:44 pm:

    The guy broke an agency policy by divulging a private report to the media. Period.

    If he was that concerned he should have called the Inspector General or the whistleblower hotline. Not the Tribune.

    Sounds to me like he was trying to leak a confidential report so that the Governor would be smeared in the media.

    Abby was right. If this Shalabi guy did this then there is a process in place to determine guilt or innocense - and it doesnt involve the Chicago Tribune.

  3. - Hugh - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 2:57 pm:

    To Friends of Blagojevich

    Arab American Democratic Club of Greater Chicago 4346 West 63rd Street
    Chicago, IL 60629

    $17,400.00 9/13/2006
    $5,000.00 7/15/2004
    $4,500.00 9/21/2002
    $1,000.00 9/21/2002

    Ski Insurance Agency
    4346 West 63rd
    Chicago, IL 60629

    $1,300.00 9/21/2002

  4. - the wonderboy - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:02 pm:

    As much as I hate to say this, I think he jumped the gun by going to the media. Having just completed my annual ethics training (excuse me while I laugh), the proper procedure is to go to the IG for investigation. If he had done that and no results ever came to pass, then he would be right in going to the media. It doesn’t sound like that is the case, however.

  5. - Justice - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:03 pm:

    “We have no tolerance for the kind of activity that was alleged in this case,” spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said. Well, it looks like she should have added “….and especially if they get caught…” Sending the info to Patrick Fitzgerald is indeed the correct route. The Inspector General will simply bury the info in a report where it is never know what happened and if remedial action was taken.

  6. - DC - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:21 pm:

    I wonder if they would have taken the same action against a democrat who had not worked in a republican administration. Perhaps its better to be able to sleep at night than to hang on to a job where your boss is more concerned about style than he is about substance.

    The way the Governor’s office tries to extend these kind of cases, I’m guessing the employee in question will be on paid leave for quite awhile.

    I’m betting the Governor’s campaign fund keeps the money too…

  7. - Rep. John Fritchey - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:30 pm:

    This is a glaring example of why the IG/Ethics Commission process needs to be opened up. I have maintained for a couple of years now, and have been joined by Ethics Commission Director Scott Turow, Sens. Susan Garrett + Kirk Dillard and others, that the present system creates a black hole in which even verified allegations of wrongdoing can be kept hidden from public view if the administration chooses to do so.

    Without knowing any of the salient facts of this case, and without defending or condemning his actions, my guess is that this is what Magalis was concerned about.

  8. - Anon - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:32 pm:

    My guess is that the administration would prefer to have it sent to the US Atty. instead of the Tribune. As crazy as it feels to say this, at least the admin has a chance of fair treatment if it goes to Mr. Fitzgerald. The Trib will have him on trial before the ink on the paper is dry.

  9. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:37 pm:

    “Blagojevich’s campaign spokeswoman, Sheila Nix, said money was raised for the governor at the event, though she did not know how much. She said that information would be reported next week to state election officials. Nix also said the governor does not know Shalabi and that Shalabi does not work for the campaign team.”

    Any wagers on how long this statement holds up? Or until a photo of the two of them pops up?

  10. - Truthful James - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:38 pm:

    How wonderful it would be if Illinoisans could have a State as well as a Cook County government we could be proud of.

    Not, I guess, in this decade

  11. - Levois - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:40 pm:

    Well this doesn’t help the governor look good. If there was even a way that was possible.

  12. - Bill - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:45 pm:

    I am proud of Illinois AND Cook County. Maybe you should move.

  13. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 3:54 pm:

    So, did they start discharge proceedings before or after he sent the report to the Trib?

    I don’t think that sending something to the newspapers is covered under whistleblower protections, such as they may be in Illinois.

    And there must be a reason why these reports are allowed to be kept confidential. Why can’t they all be put on the EOIG website in redacted form?
    Then everybody, including the media, could have at

    Wonder if Mr. Shalabi will really go out the door, though. His job must have been Rutan-exempt, but apparently somewhere along the way he picked up those draconian state of Illinois civil service protections which make it close to impossible to fire state employees…otherwise, you’d think he’d be gone.

  14. - Hugh - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 4:05 pm:


    FREE “Overtime in Hell” T-shirt for 1st person to find the taxpayer-funded IG’s report on the State of Illinois website!

    From the Tribune:

    The Sept. 29 report by the office of the executive inspector general alleged Shalabi used his state computer to arrange for a “Governor’s Reception” dinner last month to raise money for Blagojevich’s campaign committee from the Arab-American community.

  15. - BigBob - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 4:11 pm:

    Many commenters say Matt Magalis should have sent his information to Fitzgerald, not the media. Why?

    Listening to frequent commenters you get the impression that Fitzgerald already has lots of information about various alleged improprieties involving multiple agencies and Blago’s office. Interesting reading, but where is the beef? Where-o-where has Fitgerald gone. Maybe he is just still reading all those complaint emails and orgainizing them into piles. Maybe he is not finding much fire behind all the smoke. At least he made a big media splash with his letter to Lisa Madigan.

    Like the CMS2, I think Matt Magalis has a big back pay check coming in the future due to his civil case. Even so, other state employees will have long taken Blago’s warning to not pass information to the media to heart. Too bad.

  16. - 4% - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 4:22 pm:

    Matt Magalis is an honorable and upstanding individual.

    This is a big message from the Governor - if you air my dirty laundry - you will be fired. He is hoping to stop other state employees from making complaints to their bosses, inspector general, or the press.

    The Governor should stand up and say “thank you” to Matt Magalis for exposing illegal activity.

  17. - As A Mom - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 4:41 pm:

    Isn’t there an IG within each agency?

  18. - Master of the Obvious - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 5:13 pm:

    So I ran Matt Magalis’ name on the IL State Board of Elections website under Individual Contributions…no surprise here. Another GOP donor–until 2002, that is. Whistleblower?–hardly. To me, he is just another GOP hack with an agenda picking and choosing which policies he will obey.

  19. - Hugh - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 5:15 pm:

    Who leaked Magalis’ firing to the AP?

    maybe Magalis should have taken that to the IG, too

  20. - Passenger on the Big Bus - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 5:21 pm:

    Blagojevich and his Stasi have never tolerated whistleblowers. They are toast when they are found out.

  21. - Smart Money - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 5:27 pm:

    Magalis was fired because he leaked a confidential report. He is clearly an idiot and deserved to lose his job. There will be no compensation, he tried to smear the Governor through an illegal action Period!

  22. - EL SALSA - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 5:27 pm:

    Did you guys see this from the AP story?

    “Magalis admitted taking a co-worker’s key, unlocking a cabinet, opening an envelope marked “confidential” and retrieving the report, according to DHS charges used to fired Magalis. The agency claims Magalis then faxed it to the Chicago Tribune.”

    This sounds sinister and smells of political espionage. Did someone say he was a Republican? This guy got too cute and thought he would leak a story… now he got caught. I hope he doesnt get his job back.

  23. - archpundit - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 5:29 pm:

    How about everyone claiming he’s a Republican hack turn it around to George Bush doing the same thing. Yeah, thought so.

    Same techniques, different parties.

  24. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 5:34 pm:

    anon. 3:32 wrote:” My guess is that the administration would prefer to have it sent to the US Atty. instead of the Tribune. As crazy as it feels to say this, at least the admin has a chance of fair treatment if it goes to Mr. Fitzgerald. The Trib will have him on trial before the ink on the paper is dry.”

    I’ll take a gallon of whatever you’re drinking, 3:32.

    The admin. would rather have those reports stay locked in the file cabinet where they belong and not sent to anyone. The firing is a clear expression of how they feel about whistleblowers.

    I would suspect that Magalis will win his case. I would also suspect that we’ll have a new Governor before he gets his legal fees paid for. You see, any big case that Blago & Co. lose, they just don’t bother to ask for an approp for the winner’s legal fees. Court, schmort. Exhibit A: video game law. 2 years and counting. Exhibit B: Sudan divestment law. 1 year so far. (There is a third case that has been hanging for 3+ years and has daily fines of $100 plus interest running on the meter and still no approp, but old AA can’t recall the subject..)

    PS: Bill, tell me you’re not back on the bus again…please.

  25. - Master of the Obvious - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 5:37 pm:

    Claiming? Look it up, he is. Glad you thought so. Perhaps this guy looked up to the modern-day trend-setters in this genre, such as GG Liddy or HR Haldeman? He’s got all the makings for a second career as a plumber for the Watergate hotel.

  26. - Princeville - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 5:43 pm:

    “Magalis admitted taking a co-worker’s key, unlocking a cabinet, opening an envelope marked “confidential” and retrieving the report, according to DHS charges used to fired Magalis. The agency claims Magalis then faxed it to the Chicago Tribune.”

    If this guy is a whistleblower he’s as ignorant at it as can be. No, looks more like a thief who left a trail of evidence a blind person could follow. If he were a little guy down on the workline, he would not stand a chance of regaining his employment.

    My question here though is why is the other guy from a year ago under paid leave and the second guy booted straight out. What was the timeline on this?

  27. - Fake Bill - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 5:48 pm:

    I think as a whistle blower, you really don’t have any choices. I also think that employees want to report wrong doings, but the Inspector General’s Office is not the way to go. I suspected an employee of padding his travel vouchers. I did call the IG to make a report and the first thing they asked for was my name. I refused to give it and it went no where. Doesn’t seem to make sense that the first (and maybe) and only thing they wanted to know was who is reporting. Not the person doing the misdeed. Employees hands are truly tied on “ferreting out corruption”.

  28. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 6:12 pm:

    Am I missing something here or are you blago supporters trying to tell us that there is something wrong with the public Knowing a state computer was used in furtherance of obtaining campaign contributions for blago? You should be ashamed of yourselves. That act is a blatant misuse of state owned property.

  29. - Princeville - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 6:21 pm:

    A Citizen—-no, not supporting Blago what I can’t understand is why an employee has to try and expose. You’re right, we have a right to know about abuse, one article said the first guy even did other personal business on state time besides Blago stuff. What I’m saying is this 2nd guy was not real crafty at the way he went about it and the way he did go about it he assured himself a place on the unemployment line. I think the story should have been brought to attention. Gov “Reform” who makes us little people take yearly ethic courses should have told us about this all by himself in one of his cheesy press moments so we could all know he was serious about reform and ethics.

  30. - wow - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 6:28 pm:

    Dumb move — why would he do that?

    Magalis must have been politically connected, otherwise why would he have held the dhs liaison position for a long time?
    I hear he was lucky and they let him keep his job at the agency, although I don’t know why you’d want to stick around. Most folks left the liaison offices, knowing their days would be numbered.

  31. - EL SALSA - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 6:29 pm:

    I am not saying that the public doesnt have the right to know. Of course they do. But there is a PROCESS. Everything that I have read seems to indicate tthat the administration followed all the correct procedures.

    Its this Magalis that did not follow correct procedure so was therefore fired. In any other work place outside of state government it would be a no-brainer.

  32. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 6:34 pm:

    That reminds me - what ever happened with Carol Adams front office boy toy chauffeur(s) and hotel room sharer? That one went public but sure was quieted by the usual “we don’t discuss personnel matters” or should that be personal matters on the state/taxpayers dime? Really! What is the rest of the story?

  33. - Just My Opinion - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 6:36 pm:

    Line up the attorneys. Blago’s gonna lose another one - eventually.

  34. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 6:39 pm:

    - EL SALSA -
    I think Mr. Shalabi is/was part of the administration and he certainly did Not follow proper procedures! Remember what the real issue is? Misappropriation of state property for Political purposes. That’s the kinda stuff Scott Fawell did and went to prison for. Look at the deed - not the coverup story, please.

  35. - Traveler - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 7:04 pm:

    Rich -
    Anybody ask Ms. Nix et al why Shalabi gets put on PAID leave while his rights are exhausted through hearings before he is fired (if he is ever fired), and Magalis is just gone … no paid leave … no hearing … he’s just fired.

    Doesn’t Magalis have rights too? Doesn’t seem quite right in that the one allegedly using state resources to raise money for the Governor’s campaign kitty has rights, and remains to be paid by the Governor’s administration for no work since sometime in September, and the other person trying to expose the hairhead for what he is doesn’t have rights and can be fired rather quickly.

    Why isn’t Shalabi forced to seek access to his rights in court just like all the others this governor has fired? Oh! I keep forgetting - Shalabi was allegedly raising money for the Governor …

    This fish stinks from the head down!!!!

  36. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 7:07 pm:

    -El Salsa-
    Just a reminder, this is THE Story:
    “The Sept. 29 report by the office of the executive inspector general alleged Shalabi used his state computer to arrange for a “Governor’s Reception” dinner last month to raise money for Blagojevich’s campaign committee from the Arab-American community.”
    In the Big Dept. of Human Services there are thousands of Stories! Today/Tonight we have this one for your entertainment. What might tomorrow bring? What else is lurking in those “confidential” files? Indeed, What Else? Note to Fitz, You might want to peak into all of these IGs’ files. Oh! That’s what some of the subpoenas were for?

  37. - Diane - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 7:17 pm:

    What a scum. He’s in a partisan job as a repub and he breaks in to send soemthing to the biased Trib. This is not a whistleblower. He’s got another agenda. The real story here is why so many repubs have been left in sensitive positions.

  38. - Ma Bell - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 7:23 pm:

    Maybe the IG should look at state agency phone bills and ask why thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of calls are made to the Middle East each year from state cell phones.

  39. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 7:29 pm:

    A Citizen, just remember this when we take over and you’re Lite Gov. We’ll have to find a top-notch Inspector General. Any ideas?

  40. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 7:39 pm:

    Probably a deaf mute with no hands to write with. IGs are just window dressing and a PR first line of defense. Our Administration will not tolerate any of this “funny business”. Our IG will have records open to the public and law enforcement. When this stuff happens, if it happens, there will be no need for whistleblowers - we’ll beat em to the punch. We don’t tolerate it any more than the taxpayers. Rich will make a great Executive Inspector General and with his resources, as we all know, will get the story out first, accurately, and fairly!

  41. - Captain America - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 7:51 pm:

    Does anbody else wonder what a Director of Project Devlopment at the Tinley Park Mental Health Center does to earn $78,000 a year??? It sounds like he had plenty of spare time on his hands.

  42. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 8:01 pm:

    In some administrations, the sign shops in various agencies and facilities were occasionally used to print political campaign signs at taxpayers expense, of course. Certainly a Project to be Developed from time to time. Not necessarily at Tinley as I have no awareness of that happening there.

  43. - Concerned Voter - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 8:03 pm:

    Hmmm, I’d also be looking into who he “took” the key from. A little lax on the security there.

  44. - Princeville - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 8:12 pm:

    I would suppose the seriousness of the violation has something to do with the speed of the investigation in cases they handle. One involving a computer would mean the computer would have to be ceased and wait it’s turn in line to be checked out, witnesses interviewed, hearings date to wait for ect. The 2nd guy on the other hand would be pretty cut and dried and in reality, more serious. The second guy could have cleaned out and sent the media file after file. The IG files are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Guy 2 stole a key, opened a file he had no business opening and then faxed it off to a newspaper. While guy 1 is a taxpayer abuser and not worthy of his job, guy 2 is a thief who released a file to a newspaper and would have been a higher priority and less time consuming. I’m not defending either gentleman. One IG case I am aware of (zip, lock, toss key away) was very sincere, well handled and investigated and very fair with the violater though it was time consuming and did drag on a long time, but it was low priority. I don’t think we should bash the IG over this case at least without proof that a investigation was handly unfairly.

  45. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 8:14 pm:

    - Concerned Voter -
    You obviously mean the key “Shalabi used his state computer to arrange for a “Governor’s Reception” dinner last month to raise money for Blagojevich’s campaign committee from the Arab-American community.” Yes we must know more about this Shalabi and his modus operandi!

  46. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 8:36 pm:

    In light of the fact that the proceeds from this fundraiser yielded obviously Tainted money I’m sure guv will donate it to charity or return it. That would be the ethical thing to do.

  47. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 8:43 pm:

    Ethics and this administration what a joke. Did anyone ever find out what happened to Rods hand picked DNR ethics officer ? Turns out he had no ethics. Another cover up.

  48. - confused - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 8:52 pm:

    Wait…Matt made the first complaint to the OIG on SHalabi, right? That establishes him as a w/blower, but he is still a state employee. The OIG investigates. They find wrong-doing.DHS puts Shalabion ad/leave. But Matt isnt satisfied, so he goes in and steals a copy of a confidential OIG report and sends it to the Trib. Have I got it straight? The OIG should investigate Matt for unlawfully obtaining the report and sending a confidential OIG report to the media, submit their report to DHS director per protocol, and it probably recommends Matt be fired. What’s the problem here. HE SHOULD NOT GET HIS JOB BACK MR. DRAPER! He doesn’t get to make the choice of whether Shalibi gets tried in the newspaper. This is disgusting. This is not like CMS2 at all.

  49. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 8:56 pm:

    - confused -
    You make such a strong case for “killing the bearer of bad news”. Nice try, doesn’t pass the smell test.

  50. - Ethics Joke - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 8:56 pm:

    As the weeks and months go by, the public will become aware of how Rod Blagojevich has sold Illinois out.
    Note to future whistleblowers: Get very good out-of-state attorneys, attorneys with ZERO ties to Blagojevich.

  51. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 9:24 pm:

    A, you are right about the sign shops- and the printing presses. A knucklehead I canned back in the day got buried over in Mental Health where he would do less damage..until he got the bright idea of using the office print shop to do up some tickets for the annual county fundraiser. The pressman beefed because he didn’t get OT for doing the job on Saturday. Knuckles was promptly re-fired and criminally charged.

  52. - Reformed - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 9:34 pm:

    What was the date on the OIG report? Maybe the guy sent it to the Trib after it sat for some time without action. If so, maybe he is a whistleblower. If not, then he was wrong for not letting his agency take the appropriate action.

  53. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 10:03 pm:

    I think the statute establishing the executive OIG
    says that they can’t take anonymous reports. So it makes sense for the person taking the complaint to establish first of all that the complainer is willing to identify him or herself.

  54. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 10:34 pm:

    - Cassandra -
    At first they DID take anonymous reports/complaints and pursue the investigations. They received so many that they decided to control the number and stifle complaints by requiring identification. Hence the sham IG operation we have now, fraught with secrecy. They are indeed a “black hole” when it comes to truth and transparency in government.

  55. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:00 pm:

    Where’s Bill on this one?

  56. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:25 pm:

    Bill is very busy setting up our campaign headquarters. Bill for Governor!

  57. - JakeCP - Tuesday, Oct 30, 07 @ 11:27 pm:

    Oh my god I had to read what Rich wrote twice before I could actually believe it. This is absolutely insane. I think the State of Illinois is cursed with corruption.

  58. - Fire Em Both - Wednesday, Oct 31, 07 @ 7:14 am:

    OK both guys were wrong, but you know what, if I break into my neighbor’s house, open his safe and then find drugs in the safe then turn the drugs over to the police, I’m still guilty of Breaking and Entry and get to go to jail.

    This Matt guy is a GOP hack, you don’t work in a legislative office without having big time political juice and being trusted as “one of the gov’s guys”.

  59. - wallace - Wednesday, Oct 31, 07 @ 8:43 am:

    Bill says he is proud of Illinois and suggests that those who aren’t should move. What exactly are you proud of Bill, the State bird on the license plates? It is apologists like you that allow the politicians to rationalize their sleeze.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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