Thursday, September 30, 2010



This morning’s Chicago Tribune reports that Governor Pat (no relation) Quinn has received political contributions from 77 of the people he has appointed to state task forces, agencies, or boards. The Tribune, desperately clinging to the “Pat Quinn as the Reformer on the White Horse” image it has done so much to cultivate for at least the last thirty years, partially exonerates this (at least) appearance of impropriety by pointing out that those 77 appointments were less than 10% of the appointments Quinn has made and that “many of the donations are (sic) smaller than the $25,000 contributions from appointees that became a pattern under former Governor Rod Blagojevich.” So it looks like the Tribune has given us a new standard for good government in Illinois, at least as it applies to Pat Quinn: To be not as corrupt as Rod Blagojevich is to be the very embodiment of political reform in the state of Illinois.

Even more entertaining is Governor (no relation) Quinn’s defense of taking money, in some cases, big money, from people who were appointed to various agencies or commissions or who saw their relatives appointed to such posts. The Governor told the Tribune, in response to the cited article that “I never have, I never will” give any consideration to campaign contributions when making political appointments. I guess that settles it then; he says he’s not corrupt, so he must not be corrupt. After all, he’s Pat (no relation) Quinn. But the governor goes on to elaborate:

I had to appoint people…to positions of importance. And I wanted to find the best people, and many people who have helped me politically, I’ve known for years, decades, and they support me because they believe in my approach to government.”

Big Quinn contributors chime in with the same defense. Bill Brandt, who was donated $99,000 to the Governor and was reappointed to Illinois Finance Authority by Quinn after having been appointed by the aforementioned Mr. Blagojevich and whose wife was appointed by Governor (no relation) Quinn to the Illinois Arts Council argues:

We’ve been friends for nearly half a century. I used to give him a ride home from high school. I’m glad I did.”

Steve Gilford, who wrote a check to the Quinn campaign for $10,000 just before being appointed to the state board of education and wrote another check for $5,000 shortly after the appointment, argued

I have known Pat since 1970. I have contributed to him yearly, forever.”

Note that these are the types of board appointments, especially the Illinois Finance Board appointment, that led to so much trouble for the likes of Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine, Chris Kelly, and Rod Blagojevich. But those guys were corrupt politicians, and we’re talking Pat “Mr. Smith Goes to Springfield” Quinn here, right?

Doubtless some of these explanations are legitimate; Brandt and Gilford are old friends of the Governor who have supported Pat (no relation) Quinn for years. Qualified candidates for certain positions are people who also happen to be in the habit of making campaign contributions for a number of reasons that may include genuine affinity rather than a “political groupie” mentality or a desire to leverage one’s contributions or connections into a big payday for one’s self. And even if political appointees’ winding up with big jobs is not entirely legitimate, it’s just the way business has been done in this state for as long as anyone, living or dead, can remember. But would the Pat Quinn who said, shortly after becoming governor

The source of corruption over and over again has been money, and we have to deal with that issue.”

and who has spent his life pointing his fingers at the corruption, real or imagined, of other politicians have accepted the above explanations from those he so enjoyed skewering to his own political advantage? Yes, that question is entirely rhetorical.

Pat (no relation) Quinn’s taking money, often big money, from people who wound up with big jobs in and around state government is little more than business as usual in this state. The only reason that it is especially irritating in the case of Pat (no relation) Quinn is because he has made a career out of smarmy sanctimony directed at politicians who were no more corrupt and/or disingenuous than he is proving to be.

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