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*** UPDATED x1 *** Quinn campaign claims Hynes “cover-up”

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010

* Until now, the Quinn campaign’s angle on the newly released Burr Oak Cemetery documents (background here and here) has been less than effective. For instance, Gov. Quinn trotted out Congressman Bobby Rush yesterday, who promptly labeled Dan Hynes “evil.” Yeah. That’ll work.

On Sunday, Quinn blasted Hynes for “ignoring the desecration of human remains at a black cemetery,” which was the “incompetence” angle

Critics say that Dan Hynes and his staff acted with utter incompetence back in 2003 when he first learned about this scandal and he could have averted six more years of needless cemetery grave robbing with a simple phone call to the police.

Stanislaw, a cemetery worker in the Southwest Side of Chicago, said, “This Dan Hynes guy isn’t competent to run a dog catcher’s office let alone the office of overseeing one single cemetery. It’s unbelievable that his office knew about Burr Oak’s troubles in 2003 and withheld this information from the public,” said Stanislaw who requested that Polish News withhold his full name.

Quinn also pushed the “uncaring” angle, which was mentioned by Rush yesterday…

Quinn says this shows Hynes didn’t care.

QUINN: If you’re in public office and you learn of some wrongdoing that affects something as serious as burying your loved ones, do you use a bureaucratic excuse and say, ‘That’s not my job,’ or do you roll up your sleeves and correct the wrong?

But with the clock ticking fast, their best angle is one they’ve just started using. “Cover-up.” It’s a proven media attention-getter, and it’s more than just plausible. From a press release…

COMPTROLLER COVER-UP
New Evidence Confirms Comptroller Hynes Ducked Burr Oak Responsibility,
Then Hid Evidence to Preserve His Political Career

CHICAGO – Instead of taking responsibility for his top aide’s failure to act or alert other authorities in 2003 when he was first warned of grave desecration at Burr Oak Cemetery, Comptroller Hynes is hiding behind bureaucratic excuses and trying desperately to shift blame and confuse voters.

“As Comptroller, Dan Hynes was given regulatory authority over private cemeteries in Illinois,” said Quinn for Illinois Communications Director Elizabeth Austin. “But more than that, as an elected official, he was given the trust of the people of Illinois.

“When Dan Hynes first learned of a serious problem at Burr Oak Cemetery, he could have spoken out on behalf of the generations buried there,” Austin said. “He could have passed new laws to protect consumers from badly run cemeteries. He could have contacted law enforcement officials to close down the cemetery. Instead, as Barack Obama said of Hynes in 2004, the Comptroller chose to sit silently on the sidelines – protecting his own political ambitions and doing nothing.”

Over the past months, as the scandal at Burr Oak Cemetery and the $100 million collapse of a statewide pre-need funeral trust fund have unfolded, Comptroller Hynes has repeatedly covered up, stonewalled, and “misspoken” to avoid taking responsibility for his office and his actions.

Last week, a signed official letter – date-stamped Feb. 16, 2004, from his own top aide – proved that the chief executive at Burr Oak Cemetery personally reported serious problems to the Comptroller’s office in 2003. Hynes displayed the heart of a bureaucrat and claimed it wasn’t his job, as an elected official, to take action on behalf of the people who put him in office.

In sworn testimony before the Cemetery Oversight Task Force on Sept. 10, 2009, Comptroller Hynes swore that his office first learned of serious improprieties at Burr Oak in 2005 – even though the top aide who learned of the problems in 2003, and who wrote the letter, was sitting right beside him.

Dan Hynes says he had no authority to clean up Burr Oak Cemetery. Patricia Brown Holmes, chair of the Cemetery Oversight Task Force, says that is not true. In fact, the Task Force found that Hynes had “comprehensive” authority over private cemeteries, as dozens of archived news releases from Hynes’ own office make clear. (Judge Holmes may be reached at 773-363-5718.)

This weekend, Comptroller Hynes was asked why his office concealed the Burr Oak letter when the Cemetery Oversight Task Force requested all documents related to grave robbing at the historic African-American Cemetery. Hynes made excuses by claiming that the Task Force did not specifically request that letter (which they did not know existed) and blamed bad record-keeping by bureaucrats under his direct supervision.

Last year, the State Journal-Register requested records showing what Comptroller Hynes’ office did to protect nearly 50,000 consumers who had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a fraudulent trust fund under his oversight. Hynes refused to release the documents, taking cover behind a smokescreen of bureaucratic paper-pushing and political self-protection.

“At the end of the day, the people of Illinois want a governor who will tell them what he can do, and who will fight for new laws and new rules that protect them from special interests, corruption, and state bureaucracy running amok,” Austin said. “When something goes wrong, we do not need leaders, at any level, who will waste time trying to point the finger of blame at someone else. We need leaders who will stand up, confront the problem, roll up their sleeves and get to work.

“Throughout his career, Pat Quinn has been a leader with the courage to speak out, stand up, and take action,” Austin said. “He has the character and the fortitude to lead Illinois, today and over the next four years.”

I’ll have more on this for subscribers tomorrow.

* Related…

* Dem. candidates for gov. campaign at black churches

* Democrats take governor race to church

* Quinn visits black churches in Chicago, urges people to vote

*** UPDATE *** From the Hynes campaign…

DESPERATE QUINN’S SHAMELESS POLITICIZATION OF BURR OAK TRAGEDY CONTINUES
Quinn’s release of confidential internal corporate memo to smear opponent may jeopardize ongoing criminal investigation

CHICAGO – Two days before voters go to the polls, the Quinn campaign continues to politicize and exploit the tragedy at Burr Oak Cemetery, in so doing likely jeopardizing an ongoing criminal investigation. The Hynes campaign called on Quinn today to provide a full accounting of his campaign’s shameless use of an internal corporate memo, which very well may be impeding the investigation.

“Pat Quinn continues his desperate effort to misrepresent the facts and politicize the Burr Oak tragedy in the hope that he might gain some political advantage,” Hynes campaign communications director Matt McGrath said. “But now the real question is whether Quinn is impeding or putting at risk an ongoing criminal investigation by misrepresenting and misusing evidence in that investigation for political purposes. “

Last night the Quinn campaign acknowledged that they had been shopping around for reporters an internal corporate memo from the owners of Burr Oak, which quite significantly made clear they were actively deceiving the Comptroller’s office. Thus far Quinn has been unwilling to provide precise dates and a full explanation of when he acquired the memo and what he did with it. Neither the Comptroller’s office nor the Hynes campaign had possession of or awareness of that memo prior to it being provided by a reporter two days ago. But Quinn and his campaign acknowledged having the memo in their possession for many months.

“Quinn needs to provide a detailed explanation of when and under what circumstances he obtained the memo, and once he had it, what he did with it,” McGrath said. “Further, he should be called upon to explain why his misuse and misrepresentation in a political campaign does not jeopardize the ongoing criminal investigation regarding Burr Oak.”

Then this afternoon, Quinn launched another desperate attack on the topic, misrepresenting facts.

“Nothing demonstrates more clearly why Illinois voters should reject Pat Quinn than his campaign’s despicable ongoing politicization of the Burr Oak tragedy,” McGrath said. “Here we are, two days before a vital election, when the people of Illinois will have their first opportunity to choose a governor since Rod Blagojevich left the scene, and all Pat Quinn wants to do is throw around wild accusations about Burr Oak.”

In another mark of the politicization of the process, the Quinn campaign is encouraging reporters to talk with Patricia Brown Holmes, chair of the Cemetery Oversight Task Force. They fail to disclose that Ms. Holmes is a law partner of Tom Quinn, the Governor’s brother.

“It’s unfortunate that the weekend before the election, a woman who is a law partner of Pat Quinn’s brother would enter the desperate political fray and undermine the work of the task force she chaired by misrepresenting clear facts: that the Comptroller’s office has limited financial authority over cemeteries,” McGrath said.

“These are the desperate actions of a failing candidate with no ideas, no vision, and no greater goal than hanging on to his job,” McGrath said. “We are confident the people of Illinois will see it for what it is and reject Pat Quinn.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


US Senate Sunday roundup

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010

* The Alexi Giannoulias campaign was probably hoping to change the subject this morning

Democratic Senate candidate Jacob Meister dropped out of the race with two days to go and endorsed rival Alexi Giannoulias.

Meister, a lawyer who is openly gay, made his announcement this morning at a Giannoulias rally in Chicago.

Meister was having difficulty gaining much traction in the race. A recent Tribune poll showed him garnering only 1 percent of support.

During debates, Meister has defended Giannoulias against attacks made by rival David Hoffman. He also has taken exception to comments Hoffman has made about being the only candidate to be married with children. He said such comments were insulting to gays who are unable to legally marry.

Meister’s one percent means zip, and he dropped out so late that he’ll still be on the ballot, but a “fresh” story like this could step on the “older” story about the family bank problems.

At times, Meister almost looked like a stalking horse for Giannoulias. Cheryle Jackson said as much today

“This was not a surprise,” Jackson said of Meister’s move. “This is something we knew all along, that he was in the race to help the treasurer. That being said, he was only pulling 1 percent at best. So I think it was inconsequential.”

Meister responds

But Meister called “preposterous'’ the suggestion that he was a Giannoulias pinch-hitter from the start.

“The suggestion that I was in any way recruited or in cahoots with Alexi or anyone in his camp is ridiculous,'’ Meister said.

* Complicating matters for Giannoulias today was the fact that a New York Times columnist wrote a brutal piece in today’s edition

Alexi Giannoulias would be nothing in Illinois politics if not for Broadway Bank. Now the near-failure of that family-owned bank is threatening to make him a political non-entity again.

More…

The [family bank’s] move into real estate coincided with a headlong push into brokered deposits. This is quintessential hot money — large amounts that jump from bank to bank, each bank offering the lure of high interest, which the banks then must fund by making ever-riskier loans.

During Mr. Giannoulias’s time at the bank, brokered deposits catapulted fourfold, to $640 million. The typical bank at this point was growing brokered deposits at about 9 percent a year. Mr. Giannoulias’s bank was increasing its load by as much as 48 percent in a single year. Broadway Bank’s brokered deposits reached 80 percent of total deposits in 2006.

No one knows for certain how big a role Mr. Giannoulias played in these decisions. As Broadway’s top lending officer, he must have influenced the move into construction lending. As a connected family member, he was probably present during discussions of the hot-money play. Certainly, he took part in the family’s decision to take out some $70 million in dividends from the bank in 2007 and 2008, even as it careened toward a consent decree with the F.D.I.C.

But the column was a whole lot of false conjecture, according to the campaign

Giannoulias has admitted to making loans over the years that, in hindsight, he would not have made. He has pointed out that 700 community banks around the country have entered into consent decrees in recent years.

Giannoulias emphasized he has had no role in running the bank for four years. He is a 4 percent non-voting stock owner. The decree requires the Giannoulias Family re-capitalize the bank. Will Giannoulias chip in? “If they ask, of course I’ll help out,” he said.

The family withdrew $70 million from the bank in recent years — primarily to pay debt on Giannoulias’ father’s estate, Giannoulias’ campaign has said. Only a small fraction of that went to Giannoulias

Still

Among the loans Giannoulias has gotten heat for:

* More than $10 million from 2001 to 2005 to alleged Father & Son Russian mobster team Lev and Boris Stratievsky. Father Lev has passed away. Son Boris is in jail facing money-laundering charges. Broadway funded development projects some on the South Side — that tenants and city attorneys complained were roach motels. Broadway has been unable to collect on the loans.

* About $12.9 million to convicted bookmaker Michael Giorango for a Miami Beach hotel and a Hollywood, Fla., restaurant, among other ventures, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Broadway has sued Giorango and his partner, Demitri Stavropoulos, convicted of running a betting operation in Chicago, seeking to get the money back. Giannoulias initially downplayed his relationship with Giorango, noting the loans to him started before he joined the bank. Later he said he went to Miami to meet Giorango and inspect the property, and that another $3 million loan to Giorango was for a South Carolina casino.

* Related…

* AP: Meister drops out, backs Giannoulias for Senate

* Hoarse or not, Senate candidates step up pitch

* Democratic Senate candidates warn of GOP tide

* Reuters: Could Illinois’ Senate race copy Massachusetts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Dillard resumes campaigning tomorrow

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010

* After suspending his weekend campaign tour and spending time with his family, Sen. Kirk Dillard has decided to soldier on tomorrow. From a press release…

After temporarily suspending his statewide fly around to spend time with his family after recent news of his father’s death, Senator Dillard will conclude his statewide campaign swing and discuss the vast support he has received across the state, his unique and detailed plans and vision which set him apart from the pack and his plans to unite the Republican Party to secure a victory in November.

Arrangements for Mr. Edward Dillard’s services have been set for late this week. More details will follow as they become available.

My most sincere condolences are extended to the Senator and to his family. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a father, and my heart goes out to them all.

Background

Edward Dillard was a former high school teacher and baseball coach. The senator said his father died at home after battling colon cancer and a broken hip.

Kirk Dillard said that even though his father had been in poor health, the death still came as a shock.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Quinn keeps pushing; a Saturday roundup; and comments are now closed

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010

* Gov. Quinn is trying his best to get that ABC7 report into the bloodstream. From the AP

Gov. Pat Quinn and his allies say Dan Hynes is both incompetent and cold-hearted for the way he responded to problems at Burr Oak Cemetery.

They also accuse Hynes of running an “evil” campaign ad in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Quinn claimed Saturday that Hynes knew years ago about bodies being dumped and desecrated at Burr Oak, a historically black cemetery. He says that as state comptroller, Hynes could have taken action but chose not to.

The “they” in the story is Congressman Bobby Rush, who called Hynes “evil” today for using the Harold Washington ad and also said Hynes was “cold and callous and uncaring.” Quinn said Rush’s allegations were “on target.”

That event really shows a lot about this governor’s character. And none of it is good.

* Eric Zorn asks a couple of questions

1. Hynes has given plenty of “not my table!” responses to reporters and in debates — and indeed it is a somewhat persuasive point that it makes no sense for a check-writing, accounts-monitoring office like the Comptroller to be cemetery cops — but where are the campaign commercials fighting back on Burr Oak?

2. Where is the Hynes campaign commercial quoting Quinn vouching for the integrity of Rod Blagojevich during the 2006 campaign season? You want a failure of due diligence, how about the reassurances the Lieutenant Governor gave voters that, despite all the scandals swirling around Blagojevich, he was a man of integrity?

1) I’m assuming Hynes’ early release ad combined with the Harold Washington ad are a much more effective one-two punch on Quinn than the governor’s cemetery ad response. If they thought that the cemetery ad was truly effective, they’d probably do something. Also, and more importantly, a campaign can only do so many messages at a time. More messages requires much more money and results in more dilution of a campaign’s core story. Also, Hynes’ standard stump response - it’s not my job - is just not really all that wonderful. How do you put that in an ad?

2) Quinn is certainly on record saying nice things about Blagojevich, but Blagojevich is also on record time and time again saying how he loathes Pat Quinn. I heard Hynes has killer video of Blagojevich heaping praise on Quinn, but the campaign decided not to use it. The “beauty” of the Harold Washington ad is that there is legitimately divided opinion over what Washington really thought of Pat Quinn. There is no disupte that Blagojevich despises Quinn and has for some time. So, the push-back on a Blagojevich ad is far easier and far more believable. Perhaps because of this, the Blagojevich-Quinn hit has never tested well against Quinn, going all the way back to last fall. And, finally, it’s more message dilution.

* On that afore-mentioned Blagojevich topic, the national AP desks gets it wrong

In a race tinged by scandal and turning nasty, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is in danger of losing Tuesday because of his association with Blagojevich, who was expelled from office. Quinn, who twice ran as lieutenant governor on the same ticket as Blagojevich, is up against state Comptroller Dan Hynes.

Quinn is in danger of losing his seat because of numerous acts of incompetence and the fact that he didn’t respond well to some very effective advertising - early release and Harold Washington.

* Meanwhile, Gov. Quinn unveiled yet another job-producing news item today

One of the nation’s largest power generators plans to join the FutureGen Alliance, an organization developing an experimental clean-coal power plant in eastern Illinois.

Chicago-based Exelon Corp. says it wants to help build the plant near Mattoon.

Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin made the announcement Saturday in Chicago.

Two months of those events (and firing his Dept. of Corrections director) and he might not have been in this sort of trouble.

* Toni Preckwinkle’s new TV ad


* Let’s hope this driver recovers

Officials say one person is critically injured after an accident involving an Illinois congressional candidate’s campaign bus in suburban Chicago.

Republican Robert Dold wasn’t aboard the bus when it crashed in Glenview late Friday. He is seeking his party’s nomination for Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, which covers suburbs north of Chicago to nearly Wisconsin.

The campaign claimed a passenger car driver turned into the bus’ path.

* If you think ads here are rough and tumble, have a look at this one from New Orleans


Yeesh.

* We’re shutting down comments until Monday because the comment section has basically just devolved into a mindless running dispute between partisans. So, here’s a video. Get up and dance


About some useless information
That’s supposed to fire my imagination

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Everything you always wanted to know about me but were afraid to ask

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010

* I knew instantly when that bartender offered me a Jameson’s and soda before I said a single word that Kevin McDermott had his lede. Sure enough

It’s a rainy December evening, and Rich Miller is still keyed up over the day’s top story when he arrives at the small, dark bar at Maldaner’s Restaurant in downtown Springfield. The founder, publisher, editor and sole reporter for the Capitol Fax political newsletter rejects the Jameson’s-and-soda that the bartender automatically offers. “Too early,’’ Miller declares — and he orders a Guinness instead.

Not that I blame Kevin. I would’ve used it, too.

And if you ever wondered where I am while I’m blogging…

The house is a spacious, immaculate structure full of collected art, antiques and political paraphernalia. A 30-acre nature preserve borders one side of the property; on the other is Lake Springfield.

There are views everywhere, except from the small, cluttered corner office on the second floor from which Capitol Fax is produced on a widescreen Mac monitor. Miller’s view is mainly of the William Crook Jr. drawing of the state Capitol that hangs over his desk. “I like it that way. If you’ve got a view, you get distracted by the damned view.’’

Hey, I actually cleaned my office before I let him into my house. Cluttered? I’m glad I didn’t let Kevin come by before I cleaned. Oh, man, the description would’ve been brutal.

Also, I have one of the smaller homes in my neighborhood. Yes, it’s a great ‘hood. No doubt. And, yes, it’s a nice home, but it’s no mansion.

This really is my day…

If the legislature is in session, he’ll drive to the Capitol by midafternoon and stop by a series of what he calls “watering holes.’’

“It’s like hunting — you know, you go to a watering hole, and you wait for the animals to come to you. You don’t go out in the middle of the desert searching for animals.’’ The watering holes include the brass rail outside the House and Senate chambers, certain hallways, certain lawmakers’ offices, “the little nooks and crannies of the Capitol.’’ And, later, the bars.

Todd knows me better than most…

“[Miller] is not an ideologue for any cause,’’ suggests lobbyist Todd Vandermyde. “He just has no patience for stupidity in government.’’

Yep. He’s right.

More from Todd…

To Miller’s fans, that kind of no-holds-barred, total-immersion reporting is what makes Capitol Fax urgent reading. “He’s different from you others in the mainstream media,’’ says Vandermyde, the lobbyist. “He actually spends time mixing and mingling with the politicos. He doesn’t just come in for the issue du jour.’’

Of course, Kevin goes on to overestimate my income, but he’s not alone. Just so you know, it’s not even close to what he or others think. And “$175,000 over the past decade” equals $17,500 a year. I don’t charge nearly enough.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’ve always wanted to be on the cover of Illinois Issues. That’s why I agreed to do this interview. Kevin is a heckuva writer, so I thought he could make my dream come true. The story came out pretty much as I figured. Kevin did a great job. But, alas, I didn’t make the cover. I’m not exactly photogenic, so some pension story fronted the mag.

Oh, well. Maybe when I die.

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


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