*** Read Sen. Dick Durbin’s letter to President George W. Bush by clicking here ***
* 2:19 pm - Last week, Sen. Durbin said he was just thinking about asking President Bush to commute George Ryan’s sentence. Today, despite the huge public outcry against a commutation, Durbin announced that he’s gone ahead and done it…
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is asking President Bush to commute ex-Gov. George Ryan’s sentence to time served.
Durbin made the announcement today — a week after expressing sympathy for Ryan and former first lady Lura Lynn Ryan.
In a letter to the president, Durbin tells Bush: “Though no one can or should excuse his official misconduct, I am writing to as that you consider commuting his sentence to time served.”
Durbin cited Ryan’s age, at 74, as a reason for a commutation.
* From Durbin’s letter…
“For those who would argue that a commutation makes light of his crimes, it is clear that he has already paid a significant price and will continue to do so as long as he lives,” Durbin wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to reporters. “Justice is a sword that should be tempered with compassion. Further imprisonment will not, in my opinion, serve the ends of justice.”
* 2:43 pm - DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett announces that he’s thinking about running statewide in 2010, but doesn’t say what office. From an e-mail to supporters…
With Thanksgiving behind us, it would be easy for Republicans in Illinois to feel sorry about their plight. That’s the wrong attitude and here’s why.
We can use this time to bounce back stronger than ever. We can use this time to reshape our message and techniques while retaining our core principles. It’s within our grasp, subject to our will to work hard and give the people a vision of government they can believe in.
That is what I plan to do in the coming months. I have decided that I can’t sit idly by and watch the greatness of our state continue its slide. I am exploring a run for statewide office in 2010 and I plan to make a positive difference for you and our state.
In the coming months, I will travel the state and figure out how we can succeed in two years. I became quite familiar with all corners of the our great state during my two successful primary victories in 2002 and 2006. I will examine our past mistakes, and, with your help, come up with an agenda for the future that resonates with Illinois voters. An agenda that speaks to your values and concerns.
We must do a better job mastering the new technologies of grass roots politics-the internet, social networking, online fundraising. We must do a better job connecting with young voters and with other groups that are gravitating away from us, such as Latinos. We have good ideas and approaches to policy but we must do a better job of explaining them….
* 3:47 pm - Statement from Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna…
“This issue is not one of party, but of bringing real change to Illinois by the way we conduct business.
“My heart goes out to Mrs. Ryan and her family during this difficult time, however, Governor Ryan was convicted in federal court by a jury of his peers and all of his appeals, including one to the U.S. Supreme Court, were denied.
“A commutation of Governor Ryan’s sentence sends the wrong message to not only those who betray the public trust but also to the honest, hardworking men and women of Illinois who expect public corruption will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
“Senator Durbin and Governor Blagojevich’s line of thinking only contributes to the difficult task of bringing change to Illinois.”