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Pre-Thanksgiving news roundup (Comments now open)

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Big story in the Tribune from Rick Pearson

A political committee that helped expand the Democratic majority on the Illinois Supreme Court and was backed by Illinois Senate President Don Harmon emptied its bank account just weeks after being notified it faced one of the largest state election fines ever for failing to timely disclose millions of dollars it spent until after last November’s election.

On Tuesday, the State Board of Elections issued a final order assessing $99,500 in fines against the All for Justice political action committee. The action followed a Tribune story earlier this year detailing the PAC’s reporting deficiencies as it spent more than $7.3 million on independent expenditures supporting Democratic Justices Elizabeth Rochford and Mary Kay O’Brien, both of whom won their campaigns and increased the court’s Democratic majority to 5-2 from a previous 4-3 advantage.

All for Justice was notified Aug. 3 by the state elections board it would be fined for 35 specific violations of failing to timely disclose to the public its spending on behalf of Rochford and O’Brien in the crucial closing months before the November 2022 election.

The PAC was given 30 days to appeal or seek a reduction in the fines, but did not do so. Instead, on Aug. 31, it transferred its remaining cash balance of $149,516 to another independent expenditure committee, Chicago Independent Alliance, a PAC that has been dormant since July 2019, six months after it was created.

Go read the rest. One heck of a story by Pearson.

* Another strong story from Pearson

James Peyton Philip was a symbol of Chicago suburban political growth in the post-World War II era of white flight from the city, a hulking, cigar chomping retired Marine who helped build a Republican firewall against Chicago’s Democratic domination as Illinois Senate president for a decade.

Philip, 93, known most commonly in Illinois statehouse politics by the nickname “Pate,” died Tuesday night at his home in Wood Dale after a short illness, with his wife of 46 years, Nancy, at his side. No cause of death was given.

Philip served for 36 years in the Illinois General Assembly, eight in the Illinois House before moving to the state Senate, where he served for 28 years and climbed the ladder of leadership to become Senate president in 1993. He remained president for a decade before retiring in 2003 after Democrats gained control of the chamber. His tenure marked him as the longest serving Republican Senate president.

“’Pate’ was very loyal to his members. I mean, he would really do whatever it took that he thought to help them get reelected. And of all the leaders, he probably was the most committed to the rank and file,” said former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, who served from 1991 to 1999.

The family’s obituary is here. At Pate’s request, “no services will be held and burial will be private.”

* Thrillist

Multiple studies have shown it, and new video evidence from social media is proving the point: Airlines are way too often careless with wheelchairs and mobility devices.

On TikTok, a video just went viral for showing an American Airlines baggage handler mishandling a passenger’s wheelchair and carelessly shoving it down a ramp that is, according to observant commenters on X (formerly Twitter), reserved for checked bags.

The video with US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s response…

From US Sen. Tammy Duckworth…

This video is shocking, but not surprising based on my own travel experiences or those of anyone who relies on a mobility device to live their lives fully. Since I passed a law requiring public disclosure of how often airlines damage mobility devices, data shows that far too many wheelchair users land at their destinations only to find their wheelchairs broken, often irreparably. It’s completely unacceptable to treat critical medical devices like this, and experiences like these are exactly why I won’t stop fighting to hold our airlines accountable.

* Today is Oscar’s birthday! I probably shouldn’t have interrupted his birthday nap to take this pic, however…

* More…

    * Capitol News Illinois | State high court skeptical municipal police and fire pension consolidation hurt retirees’ voting rights: But attorney Daniel Konicek said his clients’ objection wasn’t about the money, but rather their say in how the money is managed. “It completely, undeniably diluted their ability to put people on a five-person board that they knew, versus these new boards of people that are statewide and (they) don’t know,” Konicek told the justices. But nearly before he was done speaking, Justice Mary K. O’Brien cut in. “How does that impact whether or not they get a check at the end of the month or on the 19th of the month?” she asked.

    * Sun-Times | Burger King owner’s ‘gut feeling’ told him he should have hired Ed Burke’s law firm: The Texas businessman might have been new to Chicago when he visited one of his Burger King restaurants here in 2017, but he’d been given a little insight into the man he’d be meeting — that Ald. Edward M. Burke was one of the city’s “most powerful” politicians. So Shoukat Dhanani came to Chicago. He had lunch with Burke at a country club and let Burke tell him all about his property tax business. When it was over, Dhanani’s company secured a building permit and began to remodel its Burger King at 41st Street and Pulaski Road. All seemed well until that work was shut down late in 2017 — by Burke. Dhanani testified Tuesday that he had a “gut feeling” why the longtime City Council member intervened.

    * WTTW | ‘I’d Also Like to Get Some of His Law Business’: Jurors Hear Evidence of Former Ald. Ed Burke’s Alleged Attempt to Extort Burger King Owners: During that meeting, Burke mentioned — unprompted — that he owned a property tax law firm and how he’s been “very successful,” Dhanani testified. Dhanani said he believed Burke brought this up because he “thought maybe he’s wanting us to give him the property tax business,” even though they already had a company that handled such matters. “I thought it might make it easier for us to get our permits,” he testified, when asked why he would consider giving Burke’s firm his business. They also discussed driveway permits for the trucks, though Dhanani believed his business did not need such a permit because the driveway was shared by several businesses in an attached shopping center.f

    * Tribune | ‘I’d also like to get some of his law business’: Testimony in ex-Ald. Ed Burke corruption trial moves to alleged Burger King scheme: Three days later, Burke talked to political friend Rodney Ellis, a county commissioner in Texas, about Dhanani. “I’ll let him know how important you are,” Ellis told Burke on the call. “Well, you’re good to do that, but I’d also like to get some of his law business,” Burke responded. “I hear he’s got 300 Burger Kings here.”

    * Withers Syndication | Former IL Senator set to be tried for campaign fraud, tax evasion: A former Illinois State Senator and gubernatorial candidate agreed in court Monday to be tried by a judge next week rather than a jury in his federal campaign fraud case. William “Sam” McCann is accused of knowingly defrauding people who donated or contributed to his campaigns for Senator and then for governor, starting in 2015, and continuing through 2020. Monday’s bench trial will come just months after a public defender representing the indicted former GOP lawmaker withdrew from the case, saying their attorney-client relationship was broken. Another public defender was then appointed to represent McCann. Seven of the counts against McCann allege fraudulent misuse of campaign money and providing false reports to the IRS.

    * WCBU | Democrat ends campaign for 93rd House District ahead of filing window: In a statement, Zoey Carter said only that “the higher powers above have deemed it not quite my time yet.” Republican Travis Weaver is the current representative for the district, which includes Pekin, Edwards, and Kewanee. The district leans heavily conservative. Carter would have been the first out trans person in the Illinois General Assembly if elected.

    * Sun-Times | Dogs sickened by mystery respiratory illness, veterinarians urge vigilance: Symptoms include coughing, sneezing and discharge from the eyes or nose. While typically mild to moderate, the sickness can lead to complications such as pneumonia and in some cases even death, a local vet says.

    * NBC 5 | Gov. Pritzker tweets video of him taking shot of Malort when asked about the beverage: Gov. Pritzker took the shot with ease, not appearing to be thrown off at all by the beverage’s intense bitterness and openly embracing one of Chicago’s many unofficial symbols.


  1. - Stuck in Celliniland - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 9:36 am:

    Fifteen to 20 years ago, it was Blago, Rezko and Panda Express.

    Now Ed Burke and Burger King.

  2. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 9:46 am:

    Don’t stop there

    A political committee formed to elect Democrats to the Illinois Supreme Court liquidates it’s bank account after being notified they were fined $99,500 for failing to disclose millions in campaign spending for the Illinois Supreme Court.

    Is it even possible for Illinois Democrats to be any more shamelessly corrupt?

  3. - Big Dipper - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 11:14 am:

    ==Now Ed Burke and Burger King.==

    Burker King?

  4. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 11:40 am:


    Is it even possible for you not to be a partisan hack in every single comment you make? Your comments get very, very, very old. Here’s hoping you ship out of here one day.

  5. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 12:21 pm:

    Of course once again you have it backwards

    Your outrage is directed at me instead of the partisan hacks running the All for Justice political action committee illegally

    Ends justify the means right Machiavelli?

  6. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 12:48 pm:

    ==Your outrage==

    You are nothing but outraged. All the time. You can’t make a comment without being outraged about something.

    ==partisan hacks==

    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    Again, we’d all be better off here if you just left.

  7. - JS Mill - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 1:08 pm:

    =Again, we’d all be better off here if you just left.=

    I don’t know about that. LP serves as a constant reminder why you should never by a parrot.

  8. - Back to the Future - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 1:35 pm:

    Thinking ‘Is it even possible for Illinois Democrats to be any more shamelessly corrupt?” is over the top, but I do agree that the people involved in these election law violations have certainly lost their way and this situation should be looked at by the ARDC and the Judicial Inquiry Board.
    The fact that these violations involved practicing lawyers and sitting Judges is troubling.
    Great reporting by Mr. Pearson of the Trib. He really did his homework and covered these violations in a way that highlighted how serious these violations of Election Law were.

  9. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 1:55 pm:

    Maybe the corrupt Democrats like Michael Madigan, Ed Burke and those that enabled them to serve in leadership for 4 decades should leave

  10. - Lincoln Lad - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 2:32 pm:

    I think Don Harmon owes the voters a statement regarding this PAC. No statement… silence is complicity.

  11. - Dotnonymous x - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 3:00 pm:

    Oscar looks like he might wanna go out…’cause gut feeling.

  12. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 3:06 pm:

    He owes more that a statement

    They need to pay the fine but I am sure The Illinois Supreme Court will dismiss this post haste

  13. - Bruce( no not him) - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 3:11 pm:

    === I probably shouldn’t have interrupted his birthday nap to take this pic, however…===
    Isn’t that considered abuse? I sure hate it when someone interrupts my nap.
    Happy B’day Oscar.

  14. - JS Mill - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 3:16 pm:

    =Maybe the corrupt Democrats like Michael Madigan, Ed Burke and those that enabled them to serve in leadership for 4 decades should leave=

    Want to talk about the same party that removed a bad governor (D’s) or the one that supported a crook like george ryan (R’s)?

  15. - Dotnonymous x - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 4:19 pm:

    Happy Birthday, Oscar.

  16. - Dotnonymous x - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 4:33 pm:

    I wonder how many disabled persons were injured after using their purposely mishandled/negligence damaged wheelchairs…probably gonna find out…shortly.

  17. - Demoralized - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 4:53 pm:

    ==Maybe the corrupt Democrats like Michael Madigan, Ed Burke and those that enabled them to serve in leadership for 4 decades should leave==

    Lol. Still on the Madigan talking points I see. As I’ve stated over and over, you’re nothing but a dishonest person.

  18. - Hank Sauer - Monday, Nov 27, 23 @ 6:36 pm:

    What a great day of good news that was

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