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This just in…

Monday, Sep 29, 2008

* 3:31 pm - Martin Ozinga attempts to explain that big contribution to Rod Blagojevich

Republican congressional candidate Martin Ozinga III said Monday he donated $10,000 to Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign fund so that he and other concrete industry officials could have a private audience to express their concerns to him about state construction projects. […]

But Ozinga said he saw nothing wrong with the private luncheon held with Blagojevich and other concrete and construction industry officials. He said the donation was made at the request of another concrete industry official he did not name. […]

“It’s interesting to me that making contributions to Democrats is automatically considered pay to play,” Ozinga said. “That, in my opinion, is outrageous and I would challenge my opponent or anybody else to show that my company’s benefited in any which way shape or form by making political contributions to anybody.”

Ozinga said his company, Mokena-based Ozinga Bros., does not have any major state contracts, and instead acts as a subcontractor on some construction projects. It does hold a long-time contract with the city of Chicago.

Perhaps more explaining is needed.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - archpundit - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 3:41 pm:

    I do feel bad for the Ozinga staffers having to try and clean that up.

  2. - bored now - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 3:45 pm:

    i don’t…

  3. - VanillaMan - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 3:47 pm:

    If you are looking for evidence that Ozinga is not a politician, you can easily see it by his explanation here.

    He actually stands abreast both parties and doesn’t feign a very easy partisan answer. He actually defends both parties instead of bailing on Daley and Democratic friends. While Republicans would expect him to claim he had to “pay to play”, he refuses to play a victim and prefers telling the truth.

    He has explained his donations similarly before. He could have played politics with it, but he hasn’t.

    It is just a shame that the political party that gave Illinois a pay to play governor, who has a Senate Majority Leader who ran shotgun for the same governor on this and other reform issues, could now benefit from Ozinga’s brutal honesty.

  4. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 3:49 pm:

    $10,000 lunch? I hope it was an all-you-can-eat, free refill sort of deal.

    This “Mr. Ozinga goes to Washington” act is a bit surreal. Mr. Outsider holds the contract to churn and dump all the concrete for the Dan Ryan?

  5. - archpundit - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 3:54 pm:

    He made a contribution for access and then says he cannot believe anyone would see that as pay to play.

    Anyone care to define pay to play for me other than what he did?

    I do expect my candidates to know enough to not admit to paying to play while claiming they are shocked anyone would think it was pay to play.

  6. - Rich Miller - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 3:57 pm:

    Not sure it’s pay to play. Maybe pay to show and tell. lol

  7. - archpundit - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 3:59 pm:

    LOL–fair enough.

  8. - Nearly Normal - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:02 pm:


    You have some more ’splaining to do!

    This part of the cong. district is not Blago friendly. Marty will no doubt raise a few blood pressures with what he has said so far.

    Is it enough to lose some votes? Probably not. The R’s will hold their noses and vote for him anyway.

  9. - anon - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:04 pm:

    I think the point he is making is that since it was made to the Democratic Gov who is under fed. investigation, then people automatically label it as pay to play - even though there is no evidence of that. Making a simple campaign contribution is not illegal and that is all he did.

  10. - JonShibleyFan - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:10 pm:

    Man, I live to read VanillaMan’s posts.

    He may have disdain deep into his vanilla soul for Rod Blagojevich, but he could tell Rod’s “I know there’s a pony in there somewhere” story with the same vigor and enthusiasm as Rod does on any given day.

  11. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:10 pm:

    Talking to the Governor: $10,000
    Being appointed to a Board by the Governor: $25,000
    Getting a big contract with the Governor: $50,000+

    Is this like McDonald’s? Is there a big board behind the desk in the Gov’s office?

    Marty is clearly not smart enough to pony up for a big contract. Of course, the Republican businessmen who are, can’t run for office now.

  12. - underdog - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:15 pm:

    what a load of garbage… how many fundraisers did debbie have where people had dinner with her? Did they pay to play?

    You all just ignore the fact he didn’t get a single contract?

    Where is the outrage in this article over a Majority Leader who carried the water for all Blago’s terrible legislation and suddenly pretends like she’s stood up to them all along.

  13. - Rich Miller - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:19 pm:

    ===How many fundraisers did debbie have where people had dinner with her? ===

    Another question is, how many fundraisers did a candidate attend after this…

    ===The [Ozinga] donations came more than a month after the Tribune disclosed a federal grand jury investigation into the Blagojevich administration’s hiring practices.===

    We’ve all heard, read, seen tons of legit GOP complaints about Obama consorting with Rezko after the media had already started exposing his shenanigans.

    Good for the goose…

  14. - bored now - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:21 pm:

    underdog, this raises questions about ozinga’s integrity. the fact that he didn’t get a contract (did he bid?) does not mitigate the fact that he had ties to blagojevich while attacking halverson. it’s hard to paint yourself as “not a politician” when you not only pay for “show and tell” and then you’re hypocritical about it…

  15. - North of I-80 - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:22 pm:

    For $10K all of the Ozinga Bros could put on the feed bag at Country Kitchen Buffet. Way too low for a contract, but it gets ‘em in the door with a map of how to get contracts.

  16. - underdog - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:23 pm:

    You mean the same as stalling ethics legislation after learning of investigations?

    I think the contribution was “boneheaded” but the double standard here is the point I was trying to make.

  17. - Rich Miller - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:25 pm:

    She got no pass here on that issue.

  18. - archpundit - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:26 pm:

    ===You all just ignore the fact he didn’t get a single contract?

    He was a subcontractor so this is splitting words just a bit too narrowly.

    No one here is naive enough to think it wasn’t a contribution to at least be in the game of who might get contracts. That said, when you are running for office, admitting you threw $10,000 to someone for a meeting to talk about contracts, isn’t showing much political acumen.

  19. - underdog - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:29 pm:

    bored now, still someone needs to explain to me how Debbie can spend her time as Majority Leader carrying Rod’s/Emil’s water and suddenly change course when she runs for congress and Ozinga is the hypocrite? She’s attacked him over the contribution… She needs to receive the same scrutiny

  20. - Rob_N - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:33 pm:

    Two sides, one mouth:

    “Martin Ozinga III said Monday he donated $10,000 to Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign fund so that he and other concrete industry officials could have a private audience to express their concerns to him about state construction projects.”

    “It’s interesting to me that making contributions to Democrats is automatically considered pay to play,” Ozinga said.

    ….Ozinga Bros. concrete may not have gotten any contracts, but he and a bunch of other concrete cos. got together to donate (pay) in order to talk about state contracts (play).

    We already have the right to redress grievances with our government — we shouldn’t feel a need to drop 10 Large just to exercise that right.

  21. - Rich Miller - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:34 pm:

    underdog, do you exist in a vacuum? That’s been done time and time again, here and elsewhere. Bringing it up now looks like whining. Defend the position without attacking straw men, please.

  22. - Carl Nyberg - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:36 pm:

    So either Ozinga crossed party lines to support… Blagojevich or he participated in pay-to-play.

    If he participated in pay-to-play he either got something (violated the law) or didn’t get something (got played for a chump).

    Ozinga would seem to be one of the following:

    a. Blagojevich fan
    b. a crook
    c. a chump


  23. - underdog - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:40 pm:

    Rich - yes my vacuum is safe and warm and filled with Kool Aid. :)

    Fair enough. The system is broken and perception is enough these days to cause problems but these industry fundraisers happen all the time - I’m sure Debbie has them too.

    But argument of pay to play completely breaks down when Marty has no contracts.

  24. - Rich Miller - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:45 pm:

    ===But argument of pay to play completely breaks down when Marty has no contracts. ===

    But he does belong to an association which apparently solicited the contri and of which many members presumably have lots and lots of contracts? What say you about them?

    Campaign contributions do not equal pay to play. Campaign contributions to this governor, however, are immediately suspect.

  25. - tiredofwaiting - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 4:57 pm:

    Welcome to the U.S. House of representatives senator Halvorson….Ozinga just did a nose dive, so much for “no pay to play”

  26. - underdog - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 5:11 pm:

    I don’t presume to know about any other contracts - all I know is that Marty doesn’t have any.

    What is the breaking news here? This contribution has been out there for a while.

  27. - Suzanne - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 5:59 pm:

    If you define pay-to-play too narrowly, you’ll miss it. Coughing up campaign contributions for contracts is just one brand of pay-to-play. Swapping contributions for access, influence and political enrichment is much more common.

    Rich is right, campaign contributions are not, in and of themselves, markers for or evidence of pay-to-play. Lots of regular folks contributed hard earned money to this Governor in normal denominations and never received a meeting, much less a thank you note.

    Pay-to-play, then, is a matter of degrees (or decimal points) with a reciprocal function. Personally, I think when dollar amounts exceed federal limits or totals grow to resemble a mortgage balance, it’s worth taking a peak at the relationship and see if anything happened after the checks cleared because with this Governor, it’s bound to be stinky.

  28. - Wumpus - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 7:52 pm:

    Rich, Rezko was a fundraiser, Blago is the gov. Ozinga was a businessman doing what’s best for his business…not a politician

  29. - Mr. Naive - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 7:57 pm:

    I thought our government was set up so any person could get an audience with a legislator just by asking, instead of having to pay just to be heard.

    Frankly, I find Marty’s donation and his explanation highly cynical as well as insulting. A wheel of his size should not have to tip a doorman to get in to see the wizard at any time, just to talk. To drop ten grand just to get an appointment is assuming the gov’s a (redacted to “prostitute”) and calling him as much. When there are multiple millions involved in most any IDOT highway project, such trivialities as this donation are beneath the stature of the people involved. It’s like tipping the maître d’ at Chez Paul with a single.

  30. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 8:35 pm:

    Who is the “concrete industry official?”

    Marty looks foolish, but AA hardly thinks the race is over because of this.

  31. - GOP'er - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 8:51 pm:

    Okay, so Ozinga is just admitting to being involved in a pay-to-play scheme.

    Get the hook!

    Pay-to-play is sort of like fishing. You’re still doing it, even if you don’t happen to catch anything on a particular outing.

    The fact is, Ozinga has always had his line in the water. He’s been doing a lot of fishing. He even admits he paid for a meeting with a public official.

    He never should have gotten into this race with that record.

    And let’s face it, no Boy Scout just happens to lock up what’s basically a monopoly contract for Chicago’s concrete business. I don’t even want to think about what must have gone into that.

  32. - Speaking At Will - Monday, Sep 29, 08 @ 11:50 pm:

    cant wait to see tuesdays white sox thread.

  33. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Sep 30, 08 @ 6:01 am:

    This could be very simple.
    Maybe the concrete man thinks Blago was doing a great job running the state and would like to help him get re-elected.
    Why else would he donate money?

  34. - BandCamp - Tuesday, Sep 30, 08 @ 7:13 am:

    You shouldn’t have to pay-2-play.

    You should have competence-2-play.

  35. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Sep 30, 08 @ 7:13 am:

    And r. Naive, that is why Ozinga is running for COngress. He was so upset by he system, he has decided to change it…from the inside!

  36. - Snidely Whiplash - Tuesday, Sep 30, 08 @ 8:11 am:

    I think it’s more of a knock on Blago that biz leaders have to pay to meet with him, but since it’s conveniently leaked out NOW, it’ll probably be the last nail in his campaign’s coffin.

    Sadly, as has been said, this practice is hardly limited to Blago. Find me a large state or city contractor which isn’t connected or on record paying large contributions to SOMEBODY.

    Let’s also not forget the shell game: You contribute to Politician X and I’ll give you the business (no pay to play on the record); Politician X’s guy will contribute to me, and no pay to play will show up on HIS side.

    I wouldn’t call Ozinga crooked, but I would say that rather than speak out against this type of system, he took the easy way out for the sake of his own company’s bottom line. Still not a great reflection on his congressional credentials.

    But, Halvorson is equally (if not more) dubious as the button Emil Jones pushed to stall ethics and other needed legislation that the people of the state needed, but which would have curtailed the power and advantage of Jones and other high level D Machine politicoes.

    On the balance, considering Ozinga’s personal wealth, I’d say he’d be the candidate we could most expect to vote with a degree of independence.

    Dig deeper.

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