* The Cook County State’s Attorney primary has become a mudfest - at least in the media…
Before the debate, Suffredin criticized Allen for taking campaign contributions from city employees who Suffredin said may have benefited from patronage hiring practices at City Hall.
Allen said afterward that the donations were proper and that he was proud to get campaign contributions from rank-and-file city workers.
As has been the case throughout the campaign, Suffredin sparred repeatedly with opponents who criticized his work as a lobbyist for tobacco and casino interests. Suffredin said he had a diverse client list, which included the Chicago Bar Association and various non-profit groups.
* But that Suffredin client list also included one other problem…
Larry Suffredin — a self-styled reformer running for Cook County state’s attorney — lobbied for a landfill controlled by Fred Bruno Barbara, a businessman once charged with extortion and implicated in the mob bombing of a restaurant, the Sun-Times has learned.
Suffredin, a Cook County commissioner (D-Evanston), has come under attack by rivals for his work as a lobbyist on behalf of casino and drug-company interests. State records show he also lobbied for Kankakee Regional Landfill LLC — a company tied to Barbara — in 2005, 2006, and 2007.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met Fred [Barbara] in my life,” Suffredin said. “I didn’t know he had an interest in it.”
Barbara, 59, is a multimillionaire involved in trucking, waste hauling, banking, and other businesses. A friend of Mayor Daley’s, Barbara at one time got more than 60 percent of his garbage-hauling business from city contracts. He has also been a consultant to the city’s much-criticized blue bag recycling program. He has been arrested five times, including a 1982 arrest for extortion in an FBI sting. Barbara was acquitted in that case — and has never been convicted of any crime.
Barbara was apparently a silent partner in the Kankakee project, and Suffredin claims to have worked with someone else, and left when that person was dismissed by the company.
Anybody who knows Suffredin understands that this and other stories about him present a caricature of Suffredin that simply doesn’t match up with reality. But that’s the way it goes with the Illinois media. Someone claims to be a reformer and then he or shie is picked apart with stuff like the above and a non-reformer usually ends up winning. It happened to Glenn Poshard in 1998, and it happened to Paul Vallas in 2002, and countless other times. It’s ridiculous, but them’s the breaks. Suffredin doesn’t help himself by attempting to inflate little items like the Allen thing.
Cynics and partisans are gonna have a field day with that Suffredin story. But using it as “proof” of something evil or nefarious about Suffredin is like that old story of the blind men describing an elephant by each touching a different part of his body.
…Adding… Way down near the end of the Sun-Times story it’s revealed that Barbara got involved with the Kankakee landfill business in 2006 - a year after Suffredin was hired as its lobbyist.