Category Archives: Congresscritters

Ryan Watch

More members of Illinois’ congressional delegation have weighed in on the possible commutation of George Ryan’s prison sentence. All are in the No category:

* Jesse Jackson, Jr. (Democrat)
* Judy Biggert (Republican)
* Debbie Halvorson (incoming Democrat)

Democrats Bobby Rush and Dan Lipinski didn’t return phone calls to the SouthtownStar, the paper reports.

Chief of Cash

The New York Times delves into what it calls “a little-known episode of Mr. Emanuel’s biography” – you know, those 36 months in which he made $18 million working as a mergers & acquisitions guy.

My favorite part is this:

“Confidants of Mr. Emanuel’s said he decided to try his hand at business because he wanted financial security for his family, before eventually returning to public service.”

Oh, the sacrifices he’s made for us!

“He had a number in his head to make enough for the family,” one of Rahm’s brothers, Ezekiel, told the Times.

And he fell just short!

Kirk Steps Up; Who’s Next?

“Rejecting an idea endorsed by two top Democrats, Republican North Shore Rep. Mark Kirk sent a letter to the White House today asking President George Bush not to commute the federal corruption sentence of former Republican Gov. George Ryan,” the Tribune (and others) reports.

“The letter’s terse subject matter refers to the former governor, incarcerated at the federal correctional facility in Terre Haute, Ind., as Federal Inmate Number 16627-424.”

“George Ryan betrayed the public trust, was convicted beyond the shadow of a doubt by a jury of his peers and lost all of his appeals. His crimes struck at the fabric of our democracy and invited a new wave of public corruption in Illinois,” Kirk wrote.

Will the rest of the delegation weigh in? Obama?

Luis’s Folly

So Luis Gutierrez’s pitch to Rod Blagojevich to replace Barack Obama in the Senate was that he only wanted to serve as a place-holder for the next two years in order to work on immigration reform. Then he’d be out.

Um . . . huh?

Let’s do some good ol’ fashion speculatin’.

1. Face value is reality. Nah.

2. Face value is partially reality. Gutierrez wants two years in the Senate not only to work on immigration reform, but to raise his profile for his next move: mayor, governor, who knows.

3. Gutierrez thinks his wife will be able to make even more lucrative real estate deals on the side if he’s a senator instead of just a rep.

4. Gutierrez mistakenly believes that Obama’s Hyde Park mansion comes with the seat.

5. Gutierrez mistakenly believed that Blagojevich preferred a place-holder; his real intention was to run for re-election to the Senate in 2010 because the people would demand it.

Having a Ball

“Barack Obama tried to keep corporate lobbyists out of his campaign, but when it comes to his home state’s Inaugural Gala, everything is for sale, and the corporate sponsorship list reads like a Who’s Who of Chicago big business,” Politico reports.

“Stroke a $55,000 check, as utility giant Exelon Corp. has, and you’ve purchases sponsorship of the ‘City of Chicago Ballroom.’ American Airlines has dropped $40,000 for exclusive sponsorship of a cocktail reception that may include members of Congress. And $20,000 merely gets your company name over the coat check booth.”

That’s right – you can even sponsor the coat check. That’s almost worth it just to tell the story about how you, um, sponsored the coat check.

Now, if you can only scrape together $10,000, you can get your name on a dessert.

Which is only about a third as crazy as Monsanto spending $30,000 to build a mock-up of the Steppenwolf right there, apparently, in the ballroom.

Monsanto, of course, is the recipient of generous tax subsidies, so they can afford it. Their executives will probably even fly in on private jets.

Hey, it’s a ball. That’s what corporate royalty does.

Cullerton and Rosty

ArchPundit (Larry Handlin) has challenged my characterization of new state senate president John Cullerton’s 1994 congressional campaign against incumbent Dan Rostenkowski and reformer Dick Simpson – which I drew from press accounts including the New York Times article I excerpted and linked to – as tinfoil hat territory.

I went back and looked at the coverage in real time and it’s clear that Cullerton wasn’t necessarily a traditional stalking horse with no intention of winning office himself and acting only as a spoiler to the challenger, but that he was a stalking horse of a sort in that his objective was to prevent Simpson from winning Rostenkowski’s seat and taking it from the Machine. It didn’t matter much to Cullerton whether he won as the backup or Rostenkowski retained the seat.

The coverage shows that Cullerton, like many others, considered running for Rostenkowski’s seat in 1994 because Rostenkowski was vulnerable. Simpson had won 43 percent of the vote in his losing challenge two years prior, and Rostenkowski had since fallen under the cloud of corruption that eventually sent him to prison. It wasn’t even clear for awhile that Rostenkowski would run for re-election that year.

Cullerton got ready just in case, saying at first that he would only run if Rostenkowski didn’t. Then, reading the polls and discussing the race with party leaders, Cullerton entered the campaign anyway to give the Machine a fail-safe option. Cullerton spent most of the campaign, the reporting shows, attacking Simpson, not Rostenkowski.

Of course, the whole thing backfired when Rostenkowski won the primary but was dispatched in the general election by neophyte Republican Michael Flanagan. Still, that was a better result for the Machine than a Simpson victory. Two years later, Ald. Dick Mell engineered the takeover of the seat by his son-in-law, Rod Blagojevich. Order was restored.

Here are the relevant excerpts from the papers.

Continue reading

Congressman O’Connor

The latest scuttlebutt about who will replace Rahm Emanuel in Congress centers on Fortieth Ward Ald. Patrick O’Connor, Mayor Daley’s floor leader. He sounds perfect for the job.

“O’Connor noted that the field is getting more crowded by the day,” the Sun-Times reports, “setting the stage for an open Democratic primary election.

“‘We, as political leaders in this congressional district, would be pretty poor leaders if we allow it to dissolve into something like that’.”

God forbid we let this dissolve into an open primary!

“This is an opportunity for all of us to be together, work together and come up with a candidate we can all support.”

Yes. Don’t mind us. You guys decide and let us know.