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12/09/2009

"No-Shows" Help Tell Reform Story

  One thing you learn covering hundreds of political news conferences during an election year is that you have to pay attention to who doesn't show up at a particular event.  Governor Pat Quinn's ceremony to sign the campaign finance reform bill--staged at the Thompson Center on the one year anniversary of the arrest of Rod Blagojevich--is a classic case study.

Some notable "No-Shows":

Patrick Collins

  The former Assistant U.S. Attorney who chaired the Governor's Reform Commission has called the legislative effort to shape his group's recommendations into law a sham in so many words.   He and other disillusioned commission members note that the limits on campaign contributions apply to everyone in private and public life EXCEPT the legislative leaders (Madigan, Cullerton, Radogno, Cross) who can spend as much as they want on favored candidates in general elections.   It has been argued for many years that the legislative leaders have used money to control the votes of Representatives and Senators in their respective caucuses to the detriment of the lawmakers' actual constituents.   And because the new law puts a lid on the donations of everybody else, argue the critics, it has the effect of actually increasing the power of the leaders.

Mike Madigan

  The Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, state Democratic Party Chairman and without question, the most powerful politician in Illinois.  When asked why Madigan and the other leaders were not at the signing ceremony, Governor Quinn mumbled something about them being "very busy people" and that reporters should make nothing of their absence.  Right.  Republican State Senator Bill Brady--a candidate for governor who "happened" to be standing outside the news conference--advanced the theory that Madigan and Cullerton didn't show up because they didn't want to answer reporters' questions concerning a law written and passed in their chambers that affected everybody but them.

John Cullerton

  The Illinois Senate President.  See the above.

Republican Lawmakers

  There were none standing in the crowd watching the Governor sign the bill topping off what Quinn kept calling "The Year of Reform".   Bipartisanship remains a pipe dream even when it comes to the corruption issue.   The overwhelming majority of Republicans in both chambers agree with Collins and other critics that the campaign finance reform bill has only made the legislative leaders, Democrats Madigan and Cullerton especially, more powerful than ever.   Its truly amazing how the Illinois Republican party that brought us crooks like George Ryan and Stuart Levine and criminal suspects like Bill Cellini is now styling itself as home to the movement to reform Illinois politics. 

 

 

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