* The eight Democratic attorney general candidates met with the Sun-Times editorial board yesterday. The whole thing is definitely worth a read…
And perceived frontrunner state Sen. Kwame Raoul, who on Thursday received the powerful endorsement of the AFL-CIO, took heat over a contribution from tobacco companies.
Raoul last year received 10 political contributions of $10,000 each from companies including Top Tubes, Republic Tobacco and Top Tobacco. Top is included in a national tobacco settlement enforced by Lisa Madigan that is still being negotiated in Illinois.
Sharon Fairley, who served as the chief administrator of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, argued people “toe the line” they are given, while saying the contributions “fly in the face of the campaign finance laws.”
Jesse Ruiz, former Chicago Board of Education head, chimed in that the matter is still pending with the attorney general’s office.
“It will be most likely still pending when I become attorney general or if you were to be attorney general. That’s an advance bribe,” Ruiz said.
Raoul shot back at the accusation: “Coming from somebody who just stepped off of Exelon’s board and took a contribution.”
“You took Exelon money,” Fairley told Raoul.
“I did, but I’m not pointing fingers,” Raoul said.
* This campaign will definitely get more heated as we go along. Former Gov. Pat Quinn took off after two of his opponents earlier this week and they both fired back…
Quinn noted that two of his opponents in the March Democratic primary, state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago and former Chicago Board of Education President Jesse Ruiz, have accepted maximum campaign contributions of $11,100 each from Peoples Gas. Indeed, state disclosure records indicate that checks in that amount went to the candidates from the company on Dec. 29, as well an identical $11,100 to a third candidate, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering.
“I don’t think you can take on Peoples Gas if you’re on the payroll,” snapped Quinn. “You’ve got to have an attorney general who’s independent,” he added, clearly implying that some of his foes are not. […]
“I guess Gov. Quinn is hoping that his voters are either suffering from memory loss or stupid,” says a spokesman for Raoul, referring to $19,000 in campaign donations Quinn got from executives of Commonwealth Edison and its parent, Exelon, in 2009-10.
Said Ruiz in a statement, “Pat Quinn became something of an expert on ethical violations and cronyism during his troubled tenure as governor of Illinois. An investigation into the Illinois Department of Transportation found that Quinn’s office exerted pressure on lower-level state officials to ‘onboard low-level politically connected candidates,’ with ‘little regard for the actual hiring need or whether the politically connected candidates were qualified to perform the stated duties of the job.’ The Chicago Tribune reported that, during his unsuccessful 2014 bid for re-election, Quinn’s office ignored standard protocols in distributing grants from a $54 million anti-violence program.”
* There was even a dustup yesterday over an endorsement…
We are deeply disappointed by the decision of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action to exclude Jesse Ruiz from their Illinois Attorney General endorsement interview process.
As the only Latino candidate, Jesse Ruiz brings an important perspective to the office of Attorney General. Jesse is a strong and unwavering advocate for women’s reproductive health. As the chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, and as vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, he was instrumental in making sure that public school students had access to accurate, complete sexual health information and contraceptive care. As a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood, I am very proud to serve on Jesse Ruiz’s campaign.
As Planned Parenthood’s website notes: “All women have concerns when it comes to reproductive health, but for Latinas, the lack of access to quality health care has an impact that will be felt for generations…. Four in 10 Latinas will become pregnant before the age of 20, and Latina teens are 1 ½ times more likely than their white non-Latina peers to have a repeat teen birth.” In addition, Latinas are more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer than women of any other racial or ethnic group.
In Illinois and across our nation, Planned Parenthood is doing important work to protect women’s health and assure equity in reproductive care for women in all communities. We hope that, in future, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action will be more inclusive in its political process, to ensure that all voices are heard and considered on this fundamental issue.
* Planned Parenthood’s response…
Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (PPIA) communicated to the Jesse Ruiz campaign yesterday that the PPIA Board of Directors is in the ongoing process of evaluating and interviewing candidates. This morning, prior to Mr. Ruiz’s statement, we reached out to his staff and offered two date and time options for the candidate to meet with the PPIA Board of Directors. Mr. Ruiz’s office has not responded. We look forward to working with his campaign to get a meeting scheduled. Candidate interviews are have not been completed, nor have decisions been made in any races.
* And the last word goes to the Ruiz campaign…
Jesse was not invited to participate in yesterday’s interviews with the Planned Parenthood Illinois Action board. In fact, he received a text yesterday from a board member asking why he wasn’t there.
Jesse received a text from a board member at 7:30 a.m. today, confirming that he had not been included in the candidate slate under consideration, and that the endorsement process took place yesterday. It was clear that they did not consider him a “viable candidate.”
After the board member notified us of their exclusionary decision, PPIA attempted to backtrack. But by then, as Jesse says, it was too little, too late.
This was an affront to the only Latino candidate in the race, and to the Latino community as a whole.
* Candidate for Illinois attorney general robbed at gunpoint: Aaron Goldstein, 42, and several members of his campaign team were in the middle of taking publicity shots when the robbery happened, according to Goldstein’s campaign manager. The robbery took place about 3:25 p.m. in the 4600 block of North Albany Avenue in Albany Park, when three men in their early 20s approached them, according to a law-enforcement source. One of the men flashed a handgun and demanded the camera equipment and other personal belongings from the team, according to police.