Friday, October 31, 2008

Money matters

The ongoing federal probe into alleged pay-to-play politics in Illinois demonstrates attempts to influence state business by donating to political campaigns. But the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform released another round of campaign contribution totals this week that seem to reinforce the fact that money drives politics behind the scenes, as well.

The Illinois Senate Democrats will pick a replacement for Senate President Emil Jones Jr., who retires in January. Since Jones announced his retirement, a lengthy list of candidates has started campaigning to replace him. The caucus will need 30 votes to select a new president. Watch for more about the candidates in the November edition of Illinois Issues magazine. UPDATE: Here's the story.

One way those candidates are trying to differentiate themselves is through cash. The more money they can raise for their political campaigns, the more they appear capable of strengthening an already extraordinarily big Democratic Caucus (of 59 total senators, 37 belong to the Senate Democratic Caucus).

According to two nonpartisan think tanks, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform in Chicago and the Sunshine Project in Springfield, Senate presidential candidates have doled out more than $1 million to their party candidates and incumbents.

The top two givers are Sen. James Clayborne of Belleville and Sen. John Cullerton of Chicago, two who repeatedly have been mentioned as front-runners in the race to replace Jones.

Clayborne has given $418,000 to other Senate Democrats, while Cullerton has doled out $336,000. According to the Campaign for Political Reform, Clayborne has transferred money from his own political committee, Friends of Clayborne. Top donors to that fund include the Illinois Education Association, AT&T and Ameren Corp.

Cullerton has used money from his committee, Citizens for John Cullerton, but he also formed a new committee, the Senate Democratic Victory Fund. Top donors to both funds include Chicago Wolves chairman Don Levin; Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago, her husband Leo Smith and her parents; and the Illinois Hospital Association. We’ll talk more about the Democrats who are receiving these funds in another blog.

Political insiders are used to Jones raising that much money or more ($3.6 million in 2006), but when these new candidates aren’t even president yet and are raising those amounts, the totals are striking. But it’s also part of the legislative process in Illinois.

“The leader is supposed to help raise a lot of money, and that’s part of their job,” says David Morrison, assistant director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “Part of what Cullerton and Clayborne are doing here is showing that they can shoulder that kind of burden, [that] they help their colleagues in that regard.”

Yet, this is one time when Morrison — ironically for a campaign finance reformer — says it’s not all about money. This internal election is about context. So even though these numbers look big, there are many other factors that are in play for whom the next Senate president will be.

  • Jones’ retirement: It means the person whom businesses donated to in the past is no longer the person who will funnel the funds to other Democratic members. Without knowing who will serve as the hub for accepting donations and funneling them to other Democrats, donors have to take their chances.
  • The Obama factor: It translates into record numbers of Democrats who will come out to vote for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama for U.S. president and who likely will continue voting Democratic down most of the ticket. Democrats are expected to have a good year, so money in some ways is less important this year than it was in 2004 and 2006, when Jones was trying to build on a majority of seats in the chamber.
  • Personality: Then there’s a question of which qualities that Senate Democrats want in their next leader. The most common characteristic cited is someone who can compromise and refresh the atmosphere in the Capitol, thereby breaking the stalemate of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his ally Jones against House Speaker Michael Madigan.

But the money is still important. It’s not just who is giving, but why are they giving? Morrison says it’s hard to tell if the Senate presidential candidates are attracting new donors, getting increased donations from patron donors or if it’s a combination. It’ll be easier to tell when the next detailed campaign finance reports are due in January. One thing is for sure, he says: “There’s a lot of money flowing around.”


New Energy For Illinois And America

If you're looking for Republicans and Democrats who will -

-work to create jobs in the new energy economy that will help solve global warming,
-protect open spaces and restore, rather than slash, funding for our state parks and environmental programs,
-make Illinois a Clean Car state to save us money at the pump

Then check out Sierra Club's endorsements before you vote Tuesday. It's a bipartisan ticket of champions for change, of candidates who want to move beyond the bickering to the solutions we know will work for our environment, our economy, and our future.


Happy Halloween

Some comic relief for Dave Blanchette. It's been a rough week in state government.


Updates to Legislative, Judicial, and Cook County State's Attorney Races

59th District Senate Race Likely to Break Record

Cross posted from ICPR's blog, The Race is On:

As the 2008 General Election campaigns head into the final weekend, candidates in hotly contested races have reported record amounts of campaign fundraising. Although most legislative races are uncontested, the top ten legislative races, those that appear winnable to both parties, have reported almost $12 million in receipts to date. And the race for the 59th Senate Seat in far Southern Illinois is posed to break the old record for spending in a state Senate campaign.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) and the Sunshine Project have also examined contributions in state judicial races and the Cook County State's Attorney. This analysis found a handful of trial court races that are likely to see over $100,000 in combined spending. The only seat on the state Supreme Court and all three seats on the appellate courts are uncontested, but several circuit (trial) court races have reported large receipts.

Legislative Races

As usual there have been large infusions of money from political committees controlled by the four legislative leaders. But because Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, will retire soon, several contenders for that position have raised more than $1 Million and they are using that money to make contributions to the campaigns of other Democrats seeking to retain or win seats in the Senate

Top Senate races include:

(1) In the 59th District, Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, reported $1,175,600 while his opponent, Republican Ken Burzynsksi of Benton reported $840,400, for combined $2,016,000. This race is well within striking distance of the spending record for a Senate seat. The previous record was set in this same District in 2006, when Sen. Forby and then-challenger Ron Summers combined to spend $2,465,000.

(2) In the 42nd District, Republican Terri Ann Wintermute of Bolingbrook, reported $789,500 while Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, reported $782,300 while her opponent, for a combined $1,571,700.

(3) In the 26th District, Republican Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington reported $796,800 while Democrat Bill Gentes of Round Lake reported $173,200 for a combined $970,000 in the race for the open seat left by the retiring William Peterson, Republican of Long Grove.

(4) In the 45th District, appointed Republican Sen. Tim Bivins of Dixon reported $760,000 while Democrat Marty Mulcahey of Galena reported $178,700 for a combined $938,700 in the race for the open seat left by the retiring Sen. Todd Sieben, Republican of Geneseo.

(5) In the 33rd District, Sen. Dan Kotowski, D- Park Ridge, reported $658,900 while his opponent, Republican Michael Sweeney of Arlington Heights reported $247,400 for a combined $906,300.

Top House Races include:

(1) In the 85th District, Rep. Brent Hassert, R-Romeoville, reported $778,200 while his opponent, Democrat Emily Klunk-McAsey of Lockport reported $510,100 for a combined $1,288,200.

(2) In the 92nd District, Democrat Jehan Gordon of Peoria reported $636,200 while Republican Joan Gordon Krupa of Peoria Heights reported $584,900 for a combined $1,221,100 in the race for the open seat left by Republican Aaron Schock of Peoria, now a candidate for U.S. Congress.

(3) In the 69th District, Challenger Greg Tuite, D-Rockford, reported $578,700 while incumbent Republican Ron Wait of Hinkley reported $417,000 for a combined $995,700.

(4) In the 96th District, Democrat Dianne McGuire of Naperville reported $534,800 while Republican Darlene Senger of Naperville reported $386,800 for a combined $921,700 in the race for the open seat left by the retiring Republican Joe Dunn of Naperville.

(5) In the 17th District, Rep. Beth Coulson, Republican of Glenview, reported $458,400 while Democrat Daniel Biss of Evanston reported $352,700 for a combined $811,100.

One candidate in one race has reported receipts of more than $1 million. Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, reported having $1.7 million available, including $479,400 raised since July 1, and $113,500 of that in the last week alone. Rep. Hoffman's Republican opponent, Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon, reported $305,400. Whether this race sets a record or even crosses the million dollar spending mark depends entirely on Hoffman's assessment of how much he is willing to spend to hold on to the seat.

Judicial Races

Circuit Court races have traditionally seen smaller fundraising than legislative contests. Fewer interest groups have gotten involved, and the size of the districts and number of voters has typically been smaller. Because the size of circuits varies so widely around the state, it is difficult to draw comparisons between one race and another, and it is difficult to say what the record would be for spending in these races. In the 2008 General Election, the Circuit Court races with the most fundraising include:

(1) In the 16th Circuit in Kane, DeKalb and Kendall counties, Republican Patricia Piper Golden of Dundee reported $114,700 while Democrat John Noverini of Carpentersville reported $105,100 for a combined $219,800.

(2) In the 2nd Circuit in southeast Illinois, Republican David Overstreet of Mt. Vernon reported $132,600 while Democrat L. James Hanson of Mt. Vernon reported $40,900 for a combined $173,400.

(3) In the Cook County 12th Subcircuit Devlin vacancy, Democrat Pamela Lora of Mt. Prospect reported $102,500 while Republican Laura Morask of Park Ridge reported $56,800 for a combined $159,400.

(4) In the 1st Circuit in the southernmost part of Illinois, Democrat Steve Stone of Cartersville reported $81,000 while Republican James R. "Randy" Moore of Cartersville reported $33,700 for a combined $114,600.

(5) In the Cook County 4th Subcircuit, Democrat Patrick Rogers of Western Springs reported $87,900 while Republican Maureen Masterson-Pulia of Westchester reported $9,900 for a combined $97,800.

What's striking about judicial races this year is that none of the contests for county-wide seats in Cook County -- one for Supreme Court, two for Appellate Court, and nine for Circuit Court -- are even contested. This tactical retreat by the Republicans (and Greens) recalls the 2000 election, when a similar decision in the Supreme Court race allowed the Democrats to send resources to their candidate in the nominally Republican Third District. The $700,000 infusion, considered massive at the time, helped elect a Supreme Court Justice.

In these 2008 contests, we see the same dynamic playing out, as well-funded Democrats are running strong in the nominally Republican 4th and 12th subcircuits. There are no similarly well-funded Republicans or Greens in largely Democratic subcircuits. A change in campaign finance laws, to offer either public financing options or incentives for small donations, may alter this dynamic, which deprives most voters in Cook County of any real choice when voting for judges.

Cook County State's Attorney

The hottest race in Cook County appears to be for the State's Attorney's office, left open by the retirement of Democrat Dick Devine. Democrat Anita Alvarez of River Forest has reported $736,000 in receipts while Republican Tony Peraica of Riverside has reported $179,400 for a combined $915,400.

This report is the fourth in a series during the final weeks of the 2008 General Election campaign season. Earlier reports covered contribution totals, top donors to legislative races and the constitutional convention referendum, and giving by contenders to the Senate presidency, are all available at ICPR and the Sunshine Project do not endorse candidates and have not taken a position on the con-con question.


GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - October 31, 2008

Only 4 days until the election!

-- Obama And The Chicago Boys - Editorial

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Chicago Tribune promotes Obama, again,0,928290.story,0,7493363.story
-- Roskam highlights Obama on Web site - Dennis Conrad,0,4326606.story
-- Wisconsin GOP hopes 72-hour blitz will carry McCain - Scott Bauer and Ryan Foley,0,2580171.story
-- Republican stronghold at crossroads Voters to decide whether to bolster GOP or Democrats in Statehouse - Liam Ford,0,5947963.story
-- Gorging appears over for boss hog Cellini - John Kass,0,7932244.column
-- Indicting Illinois. Again - Editorial,0,2442268.story
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Chicago Tribune promotes Obama, again,0,928290.story,0,7493363.story

-- Vallas returning to Chicago - Joseph Ryan
-- Munson v. Farnham: Lots of cash in 43rd House race - Harry Hitzeman
-- Cellini donations permeate local, state campaigns - Joseph Ryan and John Patterson
-- Froehlich not telling voters about his party switch - Beth Anderson, Schaumburg
-- DIERSEN QUESTION: Will the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project suspect vote fraud if Democrat candidates get a lot of votes in Republican DuPage County?

-- Chicago Republicans join fray in Wisconsin - Abdon Pallasch,CST-NWS-campbrfs31.article
-- FROM THE ARTICLE: And under Gov. James R. Thompson, Cellini turned state government into a cottage industry, averaging more than a deal a year during Thompson's 14 years in office. He continued under Governors Jim Edgar, George Ryan and now Blagojevich.,CST-NWS-profile31.article
-- 'Can you imagine what Tuesday will be like?' 1 MIL. EARLY VOTERS? 'I would wait much longer for Obama' - Kara Spak and Mark Konkol,CST-NWS-vote31.article
-- Cellini indicted by federal grand jury in state corruption probe Feds charge political power broker William Cellini with conspiring to shake down a Hollywood producer for $1.5 million for a Blagojevich campaign fund and talking about getting U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald fired - Natasha Korecki,cellini_indicted103008.article
-- Undecided? Here's two red flags on Obama - Steve Huntley,CST-EDT-hunt31.article
-- Obama would fill courts with ACLU zombies - Peter Ferrara,CST-EDT-open31.article

-- Long List Of VIPs (INCLUDES DILLARD) For Obama's Election Night Party Notable Names Left Off Invite List Include Blagojevich, Rev. Wright (AYERS?, DOHRN? REZKO?, JIM THOMPSON?, JIM EDGAR?, GEORGE RYAN?, JIM RYAN?, JUDY BAAR TOPINKA?, BOB KJELLANDER?, ANDY MCCKENNA SR. & JR.?, ETC.) - Mike Flannery (Includes video clip)
-- Some Suburban Early Voters Scared By Long Lines - Mike Puccinelli (Includes video clip)

-- State's ultimate insider William Cellini indicted - Jeff Coen, Ray Long and John Chase

-- Illinois insider William Cellini accused of scheming for campaign cash - Mike Robinson

-- Blagojevich issues statement denying role in alleged improper acts - Ryan Keith

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: VIDEO CLIP: Cross, Marin, Robling, and Topinka discuss the Republican Party,8,1&pl=New%20Video%202

-- Political eye opener Plainfield student Matt Starr gets glimpse of Obama, McCain in candid moment as a Biggert Intern - Louise Brass,6_1_NA31_INTERN_S1.article

-- Morgenthaler has Republican voting record - Rafael Rivadeneira,em-ltrrivadenei-103008-s4.article

-- Capital budget, education reform top state race agendas - Lauren Fitzpatrick, Stephanie Gehring, and John Ryan,103108statelegroundup.article

-- Roskam faces veteran in bid to keep seat - Ron Pazola,6_1_NA31_WSSIXTHUS_S1.article

-- McAloon v. Gordon: Familiar faces in 75th House District - Kim Smith,4_1_JO31_75THREPRACE_S1.article

-- Roskam Web site reaches out to Obama supporters, split-ticket voters - Jerry Moore

-- Obama, Media's Attempt To Say It's All Over May Backfire and Aid McCain Comeback - Daniel T. Zanoza

-- If the “Catholic Vote” Goes Obama, the Responsibility is Clear.

-- From the GOP state trenches: Murphy, Forte-Scott and Dahl races - Fran Eaton
-- Again, What with Illgop-dom? - Chris Robling

-- This Barack Obama message brought to you in part by fraudulent contributions - John Biver
-- Issue videos on several topics to help get fence-straddlers to move right - John Biver
-- This Sunday on Champion News Talk Radio

-- Cronin wants Peraica out of the picture in Cook - Rich Miller

-- Rob Nesvacil argues that a) the payouts that Alaskan citizens get are a type of "spreading the wealth" and b) Jack Ryan and Rod McCulloch caused Jack Ryan's problems.

-- Hardball Highlights "Obama Voters For Roskam" Website - Josh Kalven

-- Russ Stewart and Tom Roeser Predict the Elections

-- Axelrod’s Mastery - Goebbels 2.0 - Claude Benson

-- Ethics complaint filed against Senator Barack Obama

-- Is The L.A. Times Covering for Its Guy?,2933,445207,00.html

-- Next President Must Understand Challenge of Radical Islam, Former Senator Rick Santorum Says - Kevin Mooney

-- If Obama Can't Win It He'll Steal It - Floyd and Mary Beth Brown

-- Illinois: Nervous Roskam Eyes Possible Ticket-Splitter - Matthew Murray

-- Peter Fitzgerald urges Obama real estate investigation

-- Obama predicts ‘significant recession’

-- RNC, GOP tweak tactics to lure conservative Democrats - Stuart Rothenberg and Nathan L. Gonzales (DIERSEN: Because the Democrat Party exists to advance liberalism and socialism, people who want to advance liberalism and socialism should be Democrats. Because the Republican Party exists to advance conservatism and capitalism, people who want to advance conservatism and capitalism should be Republicans. People who do not want to advance liberalism, conservatism, socialism, or capitalism should consider joining some other political party or forming some other political party.)
-- GOP candidates embrace Obama's message of change - Chris Lawrence (DIERSEN: Because Obama is so outrageously anti-Republican, by definition, anyone who helps elect Obama is not a Republican.)

-- Palin: Obama "incapable" of handling security tests - Deborah Charles
-- al Qaeda wants Republicans, Bush "humiliated": Web video

-- Judicial Watch to Illinois State Board of Elections: Obama Campaign Election Day Text Messages May Violate Law Against Electioneering in Polling Places Illinois State Law Prohibits Political Speech "Within Any Polling Place"

-- Obama's 'Change' Is Socialism - Michael Reagan
-- Expect the Worst From an Obama Administration - John LeBoutillier
-- Romney: Obama Would Kill Millions of Jobs - Ronald Kessler
-- Ex-CIA Expert: Obama Took Millions in Illegal Foreign Donations - Kenneth Timmerman

-- Which Obama Would America Get? The Liberal Ideologue Could Be A Well-Meaning Failure; The Pragmatic Reformer Could Be A Great Leader. - Stuart Taylor Jr.

-- Getting the 'Ayers Issue' Straight - M. Jay Wells

-- Breaking blue: How Illinois Will Vote - Nate Silver

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Because Obama is so outrageously anti-conservative, by definition, anyone who helps elect Obama is not a conservative.
-- A Message From The "Mainstream Media" - Peter Robinson

-- Erica Jong Tells Italians Obama Loss 'Will Spark the Second American Civil War. Blood Will Run in the Streets' - Jason Horowitz

-- FROM THE ARTICLE: Some critics say Mr. Obama’s role in the death-penalty moratorium has been exaggerated. Christine Radogno, a Republican state senator, said that Mr. Obama took credit for work accomplished by Gov. George Ryan, a Republican who imposed the moratorium, pardoned a number of death-row inmates, and established a commission to study capital punishment. “To claim that Barack was the impetus for those reforms is an overstatement,” Ms. Radogno said.

-- Why The Election Of Obama Would Mean The End Of America - Herb Denenberg

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Tragically, the Democrat Party platform promotes liberalism, dependency on government, socialism, and worse. Tragically, virtually all federal employees are Democrats. Joe Davidson helps explain problems that Republican presidents have faced, that Bush is facing, and that future Republican presidents will face.

-- McCain, Palin demand L.A. Times release Obama video The GOP running mates assail the newspaper, which says it will keep its promise of confidentiality to the source who provided the tape of Obama. - James Rainey,0,5073968.story

-- Talks at GM have workers on edge - Jenna Mink

DIERSEN QUESTION: Members of the Combine who claim to be Republican, people who claim to be Republican who work for members of the Combine, people who claim to be Republican who want to be a member of the Combine, and people who claim to be Republican who lack what it takes to stand up to the Combine will be asked to assign blame for any losses that Republican might suffer on November 4. Who will they blame?

ANSWER: They will blame people known as "conservatives" and "platform Republicans," that is, people who are involved in Republican politics to advance the party's platform. They will argue that those people:
-- are "extremists" and "intolerant" and cause all the party's problems
-- were too harsh on Obama and created a "backlash"
-- failed to do enough, especially failed to give enough money to McCain and to the Illinois Republican Party
-- caused Jim Ryan to lose in 2002, caused McKenna to lose in 2004, caused Judy Baar Topinka to lose in 2006, etc., etc.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Double Think (I Think)

And it looks like it's a Con Con blogging hat trick today.

I'm thinking that the push for a Constitutional Convention is going to get a huge boost when word of this gets out.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich said today that he doesn't support a convention to rewrite the state's 1970 constitution because he fears attempts to strip some of his executive powers.
Chalk that one up in the understatement of the month club.

The Governor then went on to explain how fortunate Illinoisans have been to have him at the helm, and in the process, infers that God has given the green light for the Governor to grind Springfield to a halt.
"Thank God that the constitution gives the executive branch a lot of power to get around the legislative branch," Blagojevich said, adding that without his ability to issue executive orders or use his amendatory veto power there would be no free mass transit rides for seniors or free breast and cervical cancer exams for women.

"If the constitutional convention were to occur and there was an effort to erode the executive branch's ability to do those things, then I think less good things would happen for people," Blagojevich said.
(Since he mentioned the free rides program that he pulled out of, um, thin air that blew a $40 million dollar hole in the CTA budget, let me just mention that in my entire tenure as a legislator, I have never met a senior citizen who complained about a free anything. But the majority of local seniors that I have spoken with since the program was launched have said that they thought the idea was unnecessary and a political stunt.)

Getting back on point, I sincerely believe that in light of the already-existing political climate in our state, as well as the Governor's recent poll numbers, the Governor's opposition to a Con Con may be just enough to get it passed.

But in the surreal world in which we find ourselves, you then have to think that the Governor would realize that his opposition would have a positive impact on the issue. Which could mean that deep down, he actually wants it to pass. Which is making me wonder if that means that I should actually be against a Con Con. Oh, that Governor Blagojevich, he's a crafty one.

To read or post comments, visit Open House


Operation Board Game snags another piece

The U.S. attorney’s office in Northern Illinois is advancing its way around Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s inner circle, and Thursday’s indictment of GOP political bigwig William Cellini could be just another attempt to recruit one more person to testify against the governor, says Kent Redfield, political scientist with the University of Illinois at Springfield.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald indicted Cellini today on four charges of federal corruption. The 21-page indictment spells out a classic pay-to-play scheme of trading political campaign cash for state business. But Cellini’s attorney, Dan Webb of Winston & Strawn in Chicago, already combats the charges as “unfair and unjust” and based on shaky evidence.

The feds allege that Cellini was one of many people who conspired to rig state boards to hire investment firms that would, among other financial benefits, donate to the political campaign of Public Official A, previously identified as Blagojevich. The scheme allegedly happened between spring 2003 and summer 2005. Other conspirators already charged include Blagojevich insider Tony Rezko, former state board member Stuart Levine, attorneys Joseph Cari and Steven Loren and construction contractor Jacob Kiferbaum. Cellini’s indictment lists two more: Co-Conspirator A and a Teachers Retirement System Staffer A, yet to officially be identified. Co-Conspirator A is widely thought to be Christopher Kelly, who already was indicted on separate charges of tax fraud.

Cellini’s indictment alleges that he participated in a scheme to pressure Chicago businessman Thomas Rosenberg to give money to Blagojevich’s political campaign. The alleged ultimatum was that Rosenberg’s company, Capri Capital, had to raise money or donate to Blagojevich’s political fund to get a $220 million business deal with the Teachers’ Retirement System. The system oversees and handles investments for public pensions of teachers and administrators outside of Chicago. Private investment firms handle TRS assets. Through a statement, TRS administrators declined to comment but said the staff will “continue to uphold their fiduciary duty to our participants.”

According to Cellini’s indictment, the schemers decided it was too risky to continue pressuring Rosenberg when he threatened to go to authorities. But after that, Cellini, Rezko and others “discussed the possibility of removing the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in an effort to stop any investigations into the co-conspirators and others,” according to the indictment.

Webb’s statement describes Cellini as “completely innocent of these charges, and he will fight this case because he has done absolutely nothing wrong.” It highlights the point that while a grand jury found Rezko guilty of 16 counts of corruption, they found him not guilty on one of the most serious charges of attempted extortion, relating to the charges involving Rosenberg. It states that Rosenberg testified in Rezko’s trial that “Bill Cellini never asked him for any money and that Rosenberg never paid any money to Cellini or anyone else.”

Redfield says if the assumption is that the U.S. attorney’s ultimate goal is to get all the way to Blagojevich, indicting Cellini makes sense. But there's no guarantee it'll work.

“At this point, Cellini thinks that this is not a slam dunk,” says Redfield. “And he’s willing to be indicted rather than to cooperate.”

And if the federal grand jury agrees with prosecutors’ assessment of Cellini’s involvement in the scheme, why would a successful, wealthy political insider at all levels of government work to secure funds on behalf of Blagojevich, a Democratic governor? Redfield says it’s all about power. “I don’t think it was so much about fighting for the governor as it was about power in the board and playing the game. He was as mover and shaker when [Jim] Thompson, [Jim] Edgar and [George] Ryan were governors. That’s what he knows and what he does … Power is addictive.”


Don't Be Afraid

Okay Okay. I get it. As I've been reminded by multiple messages in the last few days, I've completely slacked off on the blogging. And not to make excuses, but it's been a combination of post-session burnout and most of the focus being on national issues, which really isn't my thing on this blog.

So let me dip my toes back into the blogging waters with this thought and video. The debate over Con-Con has been raging, and I don't think that the opponents thought that the supporters would have as much traction as we do. I am hardly saying that I feel very confident that it's going to pass, but right now, I do think that we are definitely within striking distance. Not McCain-type striking distance but real striking distance.

What's frustrating is that so much of the opposition has been based in fear-mongering rather than articulated issues. And while I don't want to rehash the arguments here, I think that the following ad captures this sentiment pretty decently.

One last note. Given the sporadic to non-existent compliance with the court ruling requiring voters to be provided with corrected ballot language, I would find it hard to believe that a loss on the ballot question would not be followed by a lawsuit. I'll discuss it more if it comes to pass, but for now, I just wanted to posit that thought with you.

To read or post comments, visit Open House


A new direction

Mike Lawrence, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is retiring from the institute November 1. He started in 1994 as associate director and became director in 2004, shortly after the unexpected death of former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon.

"You can’t really replace in some senses either Paul Simon or Mike Lawrence, but we’ve got to find someone who will carry on. And we have some very capable, accomplished people in the pool," says John Jackson, political science professor at the university and head of the search committee to replace Lawrence.

An interim director will be announced shortly, and the search committee expects to publish the top three candidates some time in November. A new director may not start until January, according to Jackson.

The new director will take over as the economic downturn continues to manifest itself in new ways. Lawrence told us in the spring that one reason he felt comfortable retiring is because Simon's goal of building a $10 million endowment had been accomplished and then some. But Jackson says just as universities throughout the state are experiencing lower returns on their investments, so too is SIUC. “The endowment is fine," Jackson says. "It’s the income off the endowment that’s not quite what it had been. So right now, we have what we hope is a short-term cash flow problem. Not huge, but it’s a headache for us.”

While Lawrence is packing his books into boxes, the university will continue to benefit from the stamp that Lawrence put on the institute and its agenda, Jackson adds. "He’s focused us more on Illinois issues, Illinois concerns, and I think that has been his forte because that’s where his network and his contacts were."

Before spending a decade with the Edgar Administration, Lawrence spent 25 years as a journalist, including 20 years with Lee Enterprises and its Statehouse bureau that he helped start and another year as Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times. He plans to return to writing political commentaries, which he has said he stopped after being pressured to do so in the interest of the institute and of the university. He remains vice chair of the Illinois Issues Advisory Board.

We wish him the best of luck and look forward to seeing his byline again.


Contenders to the Senate Presidency Donate Over $1 Million to Democratic Candidates to the State Senate

Belleville's Clayborne, Chicago's Cullerton Lead in Giving

Cross posted from ICPR's Blog, The Race is On:

In the weeks since Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, announced he would not seek reelection, contenders to replace him as Senate President have given more than $1 million to the campaigns of the candidates who likely will select the next Senate President -- other Democratic senators running for reelection and Democratic newcomers challenging Republican incumbents.

An analysis by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) and the Sunshine Project demonstrates the giant leap in campaign contributions by the men seeking to replace Jones. In the 18 months prior to Jones' retirement announcement, these senators transferred just $61,300 to other Senate Democrats.

"While money is easy to quantify, Senate Democrats will likely consider several factors when choosing their next leader," said Cindi Canary, Director of ICPR. "But it looks like they believe supporting other senators now with campaign funds will prompt those same senators to return the favor later by voting one of the benefactors into the top Senate job."

If the contest to succeed Jones turns on money, the top two candidates will be Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, who has given $418,000 to other Senate Democrats, and Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, who has given $336,000.

Illinois has no limits on transfers of funds between candidates and no limits on contributions by special interests to candidates. Many of the donations made by the contenders would be illegal if made between candidates in most other states, or between candidates for federal office.

It will take 30 votes to elect the next Senate president. If neither Clayborne nor Cullerton can put together a coalition of 30 of their colleagues, a compromise candidate may emerge. Based on their transfers to Democratic Senate candidates, this second tier would include Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who has transferred $70,000; Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, who has transferred $60,000, and Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, who has transferred $58,000. Others giving at least $10,000 include Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, and Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, D- Joliet.

Sen. Clayborne has transferred money from his own political committee, Friends of Clayborne. Top donors to his political committee include the Illinois Education Association, AT&T and Ameren.

Sen. Cullerton has used money from his committee, Citizens for John Cullerton, but he has also formed a new committee, the Senate Democratic Victory Fund. Top donors to his two funds include Chicago Wolves Chairman Don Levin, Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, her husband Leo Smith, and her parents Harrison and Lois Steans; and the Illinois Hospital Association. Of the second tier, only Sen. Schoenberg has created a new committee, Deep Blue Illinois, to augment giving by his own committee.

The show of fundraising prowess comes as the Senate Democrats hold 37 of the 59 seats in the Senate, with hopes that a strong Democratic turnout for their former colleague and current Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama will further bolster their numbers. Giving by the Illinois Senate Democratic Fund (ISDF), the caucus political committee which is still controlled by Senate President Jones, has been down appreciably this year compared to recent cycles (ISDF expenditures are down from $2.4 million in the comparable period in 2004 and $3.6 million in 2006 to $803,000 in 2008), but these presidential contenders have helped to make up some of the decline. Most of funds from contenders have been transferred to incumbents, but a handful of challengers are also benefiting. Top beneficiaries include:

• Sen. Gary Forby, D- Benton: $300,000
• Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora: $241,000
• Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge: $92,000
• Candidate Bill Gentes, a Democrat from Round Lake: $84,500
• Candidate Peter Gutzmer, a Democrat from Hoffman Estates: $76,500

Traditionally, legislative caucuses have looked to their leader to play several important roles. Fundraising is one of these, but other factors are expected to include political acumen in a divisive climate and responsiveness to caucus members. This is the first time a caucus leader has stepped down since 2003, when the new legislative map gave control of both chambers to the Democrats. Sen. Emil Jones has led the Senate Democratic Caucus since the retirement of Sen. Phil Rock in 1993.

This report is the third in a series during the final weeks of the 2008 General Election campaign season. For earlier reports, which covered contribution totals and top donors to legislative races and the constitutional convention question, visit ICPR and the Sunshine Project do not endorse candidates and have not taken a position on the con-con question.


GOPUSA ILLINOIS Daily Clips - October 30, 2008

Only 5 days until the election! Early voting ends today!

-- GOP irony: Roskam reaching out for Obama voters - Joseph Ryan
(THE ARTICLE: U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam and Barack Obama agree on very little, if anything at all. When Obama proposed legislation as a state senator in Springfield, it was often Roskam who would stand up on the other side of the aisle to criticize it. Roskam was an early supporter of John McCain in the GOP primary this year and Obama cut a TV ad for the Highland Park Republican's previous challenger, Tammy Duckworth, in 2006. So it was curious when Roskam established an "Obama Voters for Roskam" Web site and sent out related mailers appealing to Obama supporters in his run for a second term in the 6th District. Campaign spokesman Matt Vriesema says Roskam is reaching out to Obama supporters because internal polling indicates they can hope to get a third of them to switch sides down ballot. "This election is not about party politics. It is about sending people to Washington who can get things done, and a lot of people are looking to Congressman Roskam for that," Vriesema says. Roskam's move to grab a hold of Obama's coattails marks the second DuPage Republican to do so this campaign season. State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale appeared in a TV ad for Obama praising his bipartisanship early in the primaries. Democratic challenger Jill Morgenthaler said voters will not be helping Obama by voting for Roskam. "He will spend his whole time undermining anything Sen. Obama wants to do," Morgenthaler said. "To me, this is a desperate move in his behalf to fool the voters." Vriesema says the flier and Web site are not meant to indicate an Obama endorsement. However, the Web site does feature an Obama quote from a debate on the state Senate floor in 2004. The Obama quote says, "First of all, I am a member of the mutual admiration society with Senator Roskam. He is always terrific." The quote came from a sparring match between Roskam and Obama over legislation the Chicago Democrat proposed to tighten rules defining overtime. After praising Roskam - typical form for Senate floor debate - Obama said, "Having said that, have I said that he's wrong? I love him, but he's wrong." Roskam opposed the overtime rules because he said they would chase businesses out of Illinois. The Obama campaign declined to comment.)
-- We need to question Obama's character - Richard L. Olhava, Arlington Heights
-- Obama looks other way on corruption - Herb Hupfer, Kildeer
-- Obama another Jimmy Carter - Gary W. Ray, Elgin
-- Get out and vote, and pick McCain - William McNutt, Des Plaines
-- Republicans follow our founding fathers - Nancy J. Thorner, Lake Bluff
-- McCain's a survivor, independent - David Broder
-- Wintermute v. Holmes: 42nd District candidates argue over ads - Melissa Jenco
-- 56th House District: Forte-Scott calls for Froehlich to return taxpayer money - Eric Peterson
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Obama supporter Anita Mitchel of Sugar Grove makes it clear that she hates America and loves America's enemies
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: OUTSTANDING: At 4.6%, Wheaton and Wheeling have the lowest unemployment rates in Chicagoland

-- Even GOP rep. likes Obama Roskam's Web site plays up his links to top Democrat - Abdon Pallasch,CST-NWS-cong30.article
(THE ARTICLE: How worried are GOP congressmen in the western suburbs that a Democratic Barack Obama tidal wave will wash them away Tuesday? Freshman Rep. Peter Roskam -- who supports Republican John McCain over Obama -- has launched The Web site opens with an Obama quote: "I'm a member of the mutual admiration society with Sen. Roskam. He is always terrific." Roskam's opponent, former U.S. Army Reserve Col. Jill Morgenthaler, notes the quote is part of a larger one in which Obama explains he disagrees with Roskam. Roskam is on the opposite side of "virtually every issue" -- the Iraq war, abortion, tax cuts for the wealthy, the bank bailout -- from Obama and Morgenthaler, she said. "Roskam would continue President Bush's failed policies and [Obama] is supporting Jill Morgenthaler for Congress," Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said. Roskam's spokesman said the Web site was appropriate because 30 percent of Roskam supporters are voting for Obama. Roskam represents the traditionally Republican 6th Congressional District, which sent Henry Hyde to Washington for decades. But Democrat Tammy Duckworth came within two points of taking it two years ago. Duckworth had $8 million and strong support from national Democrats. Morgenthaler has only $750,000 and no national buzz. But she will have Obama's coattails. Republicans blame Illinois' "Obamamania" for Democrat Bill Foster's surprise win next door in Denny Hastert's old district earlier this year. The scientist and businessman is hoping to prevail in his rematch with Republican dairy magnate Jim Oberweis on Tuesday. Morgenthaler has a longer resume than Duckworth. A veteran of Iraq and Bosnia, Morgenthaler went eyeball-to-eyeball with Gen. David Petraeus to try to get funding to train Iraqi woman to fight. Morgenthaler was drafted for the unpleasant task of being the Army's spokesperson on the Abu Ghraib scandal, she said. Returning from the war, Morgenthaler was chosen to be what she calls Illinois' "Homeland Security Adviser." But Roskam notes her formal title was Gov. Rod Blagojevich's "Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety." Roskam translates that in his attack ads against her as "Blagojevich's crony." Morgenthaler took aim at Roskam over his support for a bill to ban Playboy on Army bases. His bill would have covered much more, including the advertisement Roskam ran of himself in his first race of him in a Speedo, she said. Roskam, a lawyer and former state senator, touts his work keeping BP from polluting Lake Michigan in his commercials. Next door in the 13th Congressional District, 10-year Republican incumbent Judy Biggert faces Democratic Internet entrepreneur Scott Harper, who calls her a "rubber-stamp" for President Bush. Biggert considers herself a moderate who opposes Bush on some social issues. She also faces Green Party software engineer Steve Alesch.)

-- Roskam runs on his record in 6th District, while Morgenthaler promotes need for change - James Kimberly,0,6400800.story
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Obama promoting Chicago Tribune argues that Obama's birth certificate is not fake,0,1742172.story
-- Counterpoint: 8 reasons Obama will win - Eric Zorn,0,667955.story

-- Obama flood may drown the Illinois GOP - Greg Hinz

-- Republican Sauerberg challenges incumbent Durbin for Senate - Andy Shaw (Includes video clip)
-- Early voting could affect 10th District race - Charles Thomas (Includes video clip)

-- McCain Camp Trying to Scapegoat Palin - Roger Simon

-- End Of The Road For Early Voting In Illinois Voters Turn Out Early In Record Numbers; Some Worry About Tabulation - Joanie Lum (Includes video clip)
-- City, Obama Camp Wires Crossed On Election Night? Daley Invites Everyone To Grant Park Party; Obama Campaign Limits Tickets - Jay Levine (Includes video clip)
-- McCain: Race Not Major Factor At The Polls - AP (Includes video clip)
-- Truth In Politics: Impact Of Early Voting - Mike Flannery

-- DIERSEN QUESTION: If Obama and Durbin get lots of votes in DuPage County, will Bill Mego argue that is evidence of vote fraud?,6_4_NA30_MEGOCOLUMN_S1.article

-- Oberweis announces officials’ endorsements

-- Munson v. Farnham: 43rd House District race a boxing match - David Gialanella,3_1_EL30_A1NEGATIVE_EL_S1.article

-- Young Schaumburg Township Republican precinct captain Tom Lenz steps up campaigning - Joanna Broder,g5-studentvol-101608-s5.article
-- Under 18 and getting out the vote - Joanna Broder,G5-studentvol-101608-s1.article
-- Democrat contributors flocking to Froehlich - Todd Shields,sc-56campaign-103008-s1.article
-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Froehlich helps voters get their assessed valuations reduced, then asks for their permission to put his campaign sign in their front yard,sc-bor-103008-s1.article
-- Obama fans vs. McCain fans Locking up Illinois, Northwest Democrats send caravans to other states - Kimberly Fornek,G5-Obama-103008-s1.article

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: From, Dane, Hoyt, Sanchez, and Spain discuss immigration issues

-- 14th District Congressional race not appealing to the youth vote - Jen Thomas
-- Some Chicago Democrats cross party lines to support McCain - Jen Thomas

-- Burzynsk and Pritchard endorse Oberweis - Shaun Zinck

-- Illinois voters can expect a 'loud' primary in 2010 - Pat Gauen

-- Cronin Seeks Dem Carpetbagger to carry GOP banner in 2010 - Fran Eaton
-- The same LA Times that sued to open Jack Ryan's files, covers for Obama - Fran Eaton

-- More Cross-Eyed Journalists - Those So Democratic They Can’t See Straight Yes the Constitution Has Failings Which Victimize Us All

-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: A highly publicized traffic accident in Wisconsin helped bring George Ryan down. Will certain highly publicized murders in Chicago help bring Rod Blagojevich down?

-- Should Andy McKenna really be attacking that goldfish when he’s the one in the tank for Obama? (Part 2) - Doug Ibendahl
-- L.A. Times owner filed suit for release of sealed divorce records of Obama opponent - Cathy Santos
-- Another journalist writes about the media's presidential bias and decline - John Biver

-- What Don't We Know? Gaps Remain in Candidates' Records

-- Yes, Barack Obama really is a Manchurian candidate - David Kupelian
-- ACORN 'shock troops' tied to election crimes Facing fraud investigations, prosecutions, over aggressive 'voter registration' drives - Bob Unruh

-- BEYOND TRAGIC: ANTI-CHRISTIANS OVERJOYED: "Born-again" Christians are backing Obama - Jim Brown

-- Obama's 'Spread the Wealth' Is Sinful - Lowell Ponte

-- Damning Archival Audio Barack Obama Doesn't Want You to Hear

-- Will ACORN Steal the Election? - Bethany Stotts

-- Democrats Bean and Foster Giving GOP the Business in Chicago ‘Burbs - Miriam Straus

-- Obama taking Ayers' cash another red flag

-- Obama's abortion stance repels young evangelicals - Julia Duin

-- McCain Calls on LA Times to Release 2003 Khalidi Video - Michael D. Shear
-- IL-Senate: Who Would Step Into Obama's Shoes? - Chris Cillizza

-- An Acorn Whistleblower Testifies in Court The group's ties to Obama are extensive. - John Fund
-- Obama and the Politics of Crowds The masses greeting the candidate on the trail are a sign of great unease. - Fouad Ajami

-- VIDEO CLIP: The Christian Case Against Barack Obama

-- Andy Martin predicts John McCain will win the White House

-- Birkett, Bucholz, and Ruscitti speak at outstanding Rasins retirement reception - Dave Diersen
Joe Birkett, Fred Bucholz, and Darlene Ruscitti spoke very highly of DuPage County Auditor Jim Rasins at an outstanding retirement reception for him Wednesday evening, October 29, at Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton. The more than 60 attendees included Peter Balgemann, Pat Bond, Bob Grogan, Gwen Henry, Paul Hinds, Bill Jacklin, Chris Kachiroubas, Gary King, Dagmar and Carl Lofgren, Gary Muehlfelt, Dan Wagner, and Jim Zay.


  © Blogger template The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP