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Caption contest!

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* A pretty cool pic…

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

George Ryan attorney claims appellate judge told “whoppers”

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* Patricia Manson at the Chicago Law Bulletin

An attorney who represented former Illinois Gov. George H. Ryan in a bid to overturn his corruption conviction contends his client was the victim of lies told by Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a law review article posted online last week, Albert W. Alschuler blasted Easterbrook’s use of “wildly inaccurate, made-up statements” as well as his “abusive demeanor on the bench.”

Easterbrook made eight falsehoods in court and in written opinions issued in Ryan’s unsuccessful collateral attack on his mail fraud and racketeering convictions, Aschuler alleged.

“By falsehoods, I do not mean minor misunderstandings or misinterpretations; I mean whoppers,” he wrote in an article published Thursday on the Valparaiso University Law Review’s website.

The full article, entitled “How Frank Easterbrook kept George Ryan in prison,” is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

Lawyers claim Cullerton’s pension idea is unconstitutional

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* Gino L. DiVito and John M. Fitzgerald asked if I’d publish a “short” legal analysis of Eric Madiar’s latest pension reform idea. It ain’t exactly short, but it is interesting…

We were honored to represent Doris Heaton and certain other plaintiffs in Heaton v. Quinn, the litigation that resulted in a unanimous opinion by the Illinois Supreme Court which invalidated Public Act 98-0599 (Senate Bill 1). As attorneys who have a longstanding interest in protecting the pension rights of public sector employees in Illinois, we deeply appreciate the legal scholarship of Eric Madiar. Mr. Madiar is an outstanding lawyer and legal scholar, and his analysis of the Pension Protection Clause of the Illinois Constitution (Art. XIII, § 5) is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to understand that constitutional provision.

Mr. Madiar recently authored an article for the Illinois Public Employee Relations Report with the title, “Illinois Public Pensions: Where To From Here?” The article combines Mr. Madiar’s exhaustive and illuminating legal analysis with bold prescriptions for pension reform. One of those bold ideas, however, gives us pause. Mr. Madiar ascribes a certain pension reform proposal to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and explains it as follows:

    The proposal offers Tier 1 employees in the three largest State pension systems—TRS, SURS, and SERS—a choice of either agreeing to a lower annual annuity increase (i.e., “COLA increase”) or rejecting the requested change. Specifically, the legislation provides an election process wherein Tier 1 employees are expressly asked in the legislation to agree to waive their right to the current annual 3 percent compounded COLA increase they would otherwise receive in retirement, and instead receive the Tier 2 COLA increase. The Tier 2 COLA increase would annually increase a participant’s retirement annuity amount by the lesser of 3 percent simple or half the rate of inflation, and delay the receipt of those increases to the earlier of five years after retirement or age 67.

    Tier 1 employees who agree to the lower COLA increase will receive, at a minimum, one item of legal consideration for giving up their current compounded 3 percent COLA. In the legislation itself, the State expressly and irrevocably promises, as an employer, to never offer future salary increases on a nonpensionable basis. The waiver of this right creates a new legal detriment on the State, as an employer, that benefits employees who accept the offer. 

    Tier 1 employees who reject the COLA change will continue to keep their current annual 3 percent compounded COLA increases in retirement. For these employees, however, the State will exercise its legal right as an employer and only offer all future salary increases to these employees on a nonpensionable basis. Put differently, a Tier 1 employee rejecting the COLA change will still be offered salary increases in the future, but only on the express condition that the increases, if accepted, will not apply in the calculation of the employee’s pension at retirement.

While we appreciate that bold and creative ideas are necessary to address the problem of pension system underfunding, this particular idea could not withstand judicial scrutiny. As described in Mr. Madiar’s article, the Cullerton proposal would force upon pension system members a choice between two diminishments of their constitutionally protected pension rights. The fact that a “choice” is offered does not matter. Either “choice” would be a pension diminishment and a violation of the Pension Protection Clause of the Illinois Constitution.

As the Illinois Supreme Court has explained, “once an individual begins work and becomes a member of a public retirement system, any subsequent changes to the Pension Code that would diminish the benefits conferred by membership in the retirement system cannot be applied to that individual.” In re Pension Reform Litigation (Heaton v. Quinn), 2015 IL 118585, ¶ 46; see also Kanerva v. Weems, 2014 IL 115811, ¶ 38; Jones v. Municipal Employees’ Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago, 2016 IL 119618, ¶¶ 36-47.

Applying this constitutional rule, our courts have repeatedly invalidated amendments to the Illinois Pension Code that would change the calculation of a pension system member’s pensionable salary so as to diminish that member’s pension benefits. In Heaton, the Illinois Supreme Court invalidated legislation which, among other things, “cap[ped] the maximum salary that may be considered when calculating the amount of a member’s retirement annuity.” Heaton, 2015 IL 118585, ¶ 27 (describing P.A. 98-0599). Likewise, in Felt v. Board of Trustees of Judges Retirement System, our Supreme Court invalidated legislation that changed a judge’s pensionable salary from the “salary of the judge on the last day of judicial service” to “the average salary for the final year of service as a judge.” See Felt, 107 Ill. 2d 158, 161-63 (1985). Likewise, in Kraus v. Board of Trustees of Police Pension Fund of Village of Niles, the Illinois Appellate Court held that a police officer on disability could not constitutionally be denied his right under the Pension Code to “receive a pension of one half the salary attached to his rank for the year preceding his retirement on regular pension.” While the Pension Code had been amended so as to change that formula, that Pension Code amendment could not be applied to the officer because it was enacted after he joined the pension system. See Kraus, 72 Ill. App. 3d 833, 843-51 (1979). In other words, it is clear that variables in the pension formula that are tied to a pension system member’s salary cannot be changed to that member’s detriment after he or she has joined the pension system.

But the Cullerton proposal would do exactly that. In Mr. Madiar’s words, pension system members who choose not to “agree” to a diminishment of their COLAs (or, more accurately, statutory “automatic annual increases” in the pension annuity) would be offered future salary increases only “on the express condition that the increases, if accepted, will not apply in the calculation of the employee’s pension at retirement.”

Under existing law, pension system members’ salary increases are factored into the formula that is used to calculate their pension annuities. By way of example, under section 16-121 of the Pension Code, a TRS member’s salary is defined as the “actual compensation received by a teacher during any school year and recognized by the system in accordance with rules of the board.” That “actual compensation” will incorporate any salary increases a teacher has earned over the course of his career, and that teacher’s “salary” will be a variable in the formula used to determine his pension annuity. The Cullerton proposal would change the formula to freeze a pension system member’s pensionable salary as of the date he refused to “agree” to another pension diminishment. Thus, section 16-121 would presumably be amended to define a TRS member’s “salary” as something less than his or her “actual compensation” if that TRS member refused a COLA reduction. Under the Cullerton proposal, a TRS member’s “salary” would instead be his “actual compensation” as of the date he turned down the COLA-reduction option, not the “actual compensation” he subsequently “received.”

Such a pensionable salary freeze does not stand on any different footing from the pensionable salary changes that were held unconstitutional in Heaton, Felt and Kraus. The principle is simple: One’s pensionable salary is a key variable in the pension formula. A pension system member currently enjoys the right to have any future salary increases factored into his or her pensionable salary. The Cullerton proposal would change that statutory formula so as to freeze pensionable salaries as of a date certain and thereby reduce pensions. That is a violation of the Pension Protection Clause of the Illinois Constitution.

Of course, public sector employers generally may simply decide not to give their employees a raise. But that is beside the point. The Cullerton proposal would diminish pensions by changing the way the Pension Code calculates pension annuities; specifically, by freezing one’s pensionable salary as of a date certain. That is not permitted by the Pension Protection Clause.

Mr. Madiar concedes that Illinois decisions have “invalidated legislation that unilaterally narrowed the statutory definition of pensionable salary,” but he argues that none of those decisions “involved an express offering of future salary increases on a non-pensionable basis” (emphasis in original). To us, that is a distinction without a difference. Changing the law to provide that future salary increases will not count towards one’s pensionable salary constitutes a diminishment of one’s constitutionally protected pension rights. Such a change would suffer the same fate as other changes to the Pension Code’s formulation of one’s pensionable salary.

Nor is the outcome different simply because a pension system member is given a “choice” between two alternative pension diminishments. Mr. Madiar argues that a diminishment of pension rights may be constitutionally valid if it is part of a “bargained-for exchange.” This argument may have persuasive force if a pension system member is being offered some new benefit in exchange for surrendering a pension right. In the Cullerton proposal, however, there is no new benefit. Under that proposal, at best, a pension system member is permitted to keep the current statutory treatment of his or her pensionable salary.

Mr. Madiar relies heavily on Carroll v. Grumet, 281 A.D. 35, 36-38 (N.Y. App. Div. 1952). But in that case, a New York City firefighter was offered a “cost of living bonus” and agreed, apparently from the outset, that this new benefit would never count towards his pensionable salary. We believe Carroll is distinguishable. Unlike the plaintiff in Carroll, who apparently never had a legal right for the “cost of living bonus” to be counted towards his pensionable salary, members of Illinois public sector pension systems have an existing legal right for any salary increases that they may earn between now and their retirement to be factored into their pensionable salary. We should add that Kanerva counsels against overreading the holdings of New York decisions in this area. See Kanerva, 2014 IL 115811, ¶ 52 (agreeing with the Hawaiian Supreme Court’s holding that a certain New York decision interpreting the New York Constitution’s pension protection provision was “distinguishable and unpersuasive”). We see no reason to believe that the Illinois Supreme Court would adopt the expansive reading of Carroll suggested by Mr. Madiar.

Mr. Madiar also argues that the “choice” imposed on pension system members by the Cullerton proposal is not tantamount to duress. Even if true, that point would be irrelevant. If both options presented by the Cullerton proposal are unconstitutional pension diminishments, then the proposal would be invalid regardless of whether it constitutes duress in the legal sense.
In conclusion, we applaud Mr. Madiar for his continued scholarship on this crucial legal subject. We also agree that creative ideas will be necessary to address the chronic problem of pension system underfunding in this State. We strongly believe, however, that this particular proposal is unconstitutional.

About the authors: Gino L. DiVito and John M. Fitzgerald are partners at the Chicago law firm Tabet DiVito & Rothstein LLC. Mr. DiVito is a retired justice of the Illinois Appellate Court.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* AP

The privately run and funded economic development corporation that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner created to attract new businesses to Illinois has a new name.

The Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation announced Monday that it will now be known as Intersect Illinois. Rauner used his executive powers in February to establish the nonprofit. Democrats raised questions about transparency and a few weeks later formed a bipartisan committee to review the corporation. […]

The corporation’s CEO, Jim Schultz, said Monday that the group knew its original name “didn’t exactly roll off the tongue or do much to sell Illinois.” He says the new name “ties together everything that makes Illinois an attractive state in which to grow a business.”

* The Question: Rejected name-change ideas?

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      

Olsen frontrunner to replace Sandack

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* Subscribers were told about this earlier today

A rising star in the DuPage County Republican Party, David S. Olsen, appears to be the leading candidate to replace 81st District state Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove, who has resigned his seat citing “cyber security issues.”

Olsen, 27, of Downers Grove, already serves as vice chairman of the College of DuPage board of trustees, as a Downers Grove village commissioner and as vice chairman of the Downers Grove Township Republican Committee.

He has expressed interest in seeking the 81st House seat in the past and Downers Grove Township and DuPage County GOP leaders say he’s the “front-runner” to fill the remainder of Sandack’s term and likely be listed on the Nov. 8 ballot against Downers Grove Democrat Greg Hose.

“Right now it sounds like David Olsen is at the top of everyone’s wish list,” said Bob Grogan, Downers Grove Township Republican Organization chairman. “He’s a well-liked young man.” […]

Officials expect the decision on Sandack’s replacement will be made relatively quickly. The Republican party has 30 days from Sandack’s resignation effective Monday to fill his seat and officials have until Aug. 25 to fill the vacancy on the November ballot.

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

Rauner signs surveillance reform bill

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* Progress Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation Friday requiring police forces in Illinois to get a court order before using surveillance equipment to covertly scan people’s cellphone data.

The equipment in question, often called “Stingray,” acts like a cellphone tower and is typically attached to police surveillance vehicles. It can collect data secretively from nearby cellular devices.

Under the new measure, police are prohibited from keeping data captured by the equipment if it comes from an individual not under investigation.

Also, the technology cannot be used “to block phone calls, drain a phone battery or intercept the content of phone calls, web browsing and text messages by police,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois.

The bill passed both chambers without a single “No” vote.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

CFL video compares Trump to Rauner

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* Tribune

Even as party leaders warned delegates not to lose sight of the November election, their fight with Rauner at the statehouse was front-and-center. That was a function of both the political nature of the gathering, and the topic of the day: Organized labor. Rauner has spent the past year-and-a-half trying to chip away at the influence of Illinois labor unions, with Democrats resisting in support of their union allies.

Delegates heard from labor leaders, who preached party unity ahead of the official nomination of Clinton this week, but also bashed Rauner for his anti-union efforts. As the breakfast meeting concluded, delegates were shown a promotional video featuring a number of labor leaders linking Rauner and Trump and declaring that there is “no difference between” the two Republican businessmen-turned-politicians.

The video was produced by the Chicago Federation of Labor.

* Rate it

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

Unclear on the “unity” concept… so far

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* Expect more like this…

* Whew

Angry Democrats heckled outgoing party chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz with boos and cries of “shame!” on Monday as the party tried to move past an embarrassing email controversy and heal divisions before this week’s national convention begins.

In her first remarks since announcing her resignation on Sunday, the Florida congresswoman struggled to be heard in her Monday morning address before her home-state delegation. Some delegates, apparently disappointed supporters of her primary rival, Bernie Sanders, jeered and waved signs reading “Thanks for the ‘help,’ Debbie,” and more simply, “E-mail.”

Her supporters pushed back, standing on chairs and yelling at the Sanders people to step back or sit down.

Wasserman Schultz tried to shout over the raucous crowd, saying, “We have to make sure that we move together in a unified way!”

Yeah. Unified. Right.

* Sun-Times

Illinois delegates flocked to Philadelphia on Sunday ahead of what has already been a dramatic start to the Democratic National Convention, amid leaked Democratic National Committee emails that targeted Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign.

And there’s a continued surge of support for the Vermont senator just days before Hillary Clinton will accept the presidential nomination. […]

On Sunday, [Sanders Illinois campaign manager Clem Balanoff] called the leaked emails “outrageous” and said he supports Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s decision to quit after the convention.

“People like this, it’s like if it wasn’t within the party, this is the kind of thing you go to jail for,” Balanoff said. “It’s similar to Watergate. The break in and playing games, that’s wrong. And the whole idea is very Donald Trump-ish. When [Wasserman Schultz] tries to divide the religious wedge to be able to win a nomination. It’s outrageous.”

* Tribune

Clinton delegate and South Side Ald. Carrie Austin said some Sanders supporters are dragging their feet, and that it’s time for them to get in line as Clinton has incorporated some of the senator’s ideas into her campaign and the party’s platform.

“What more do they want her to do? That’s the part that bothers me. I mean, c’mon. What more do you want her to give of herself to convince you?” said Austin, 34th. “She’s doing everything within the character of who she is. Why would she step outside the character of the person of who she is? You want me to do a jig? I don’t know how to dance. So, I think they’re overreaching and they just don’t like her. Period.” […]

For her part, [House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie] said she was optimistic the party would be unified after a meeting of delegates in Springfield earlier this year.

“Party unity is already assured,” she said. “I am sure that the enthusiasm will rise as the convention proceeds.”

I wouldn’t bet a whole lot of money on that. At least, not yet.

* ABC 7

Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Mike Madigan predicted that by Thursday his 196-member delegation would be solid in its support for Hillary Clinton.

“I expect the Illinois delegation will be united against Donald Trump because of his extremism and for Hillary Clinton,” said Madigan.

However, delegation members who supported Bernie Sanders said they are not entirely on board yet. They want Clinton to accept more of Sanders’ progressive agenda on foreign trade, the minimum wage and changes in the way the party selects convention delegates.

“But I think there are some policy platform issues that we’re concerned about,” said delegate Carol Ammons, an Illinois state representative.

* Related…

* Huppke: As convention starts, Democrats trip over low bar set by GOP

* DNC steps off in Philadelphia with huge protests, high temps

* Democrats Seek Display of Unity Despite Leadership Shuffle

* Illinois Delegates Head to Philadelphia for the Democratic Convention

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

A weird dude, that one

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* AP

The Chicago White Sox suspended Chris Sale five days, then got a rare win in a game their ace was supposed to start.

Adam Eaton drove in Avisail Garcia with a game-ending single in the ninth inning to lift the White Sox to a 4-3 victory on Sunday in a game that was suspended the previous night because of rain.

The big news Sunday was Sale getting suspended and fined one day after he was scratched from his scheduled start and sent home. The punishment was handed down after he destroyed collared throwback uniforms the team was scheduled to wear in this game. He is eligible to return Thursday against the crosstown Cubs at Wrigley Field, though Hahn would not say if the left-hander would start that game

With Sale out, the White Sox were forced to go with their bullpen. The game was interrupted three times by thunderstorms on Saturday before play was stopped after eight innings tied at 3.

The game resumed Sunday and the White Sox quickly ended it.

Consider this a Major League Baseball open thread.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Rauner’s taking his time on decrim bill, but will likely sign it

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* AP

Gov. Bruce Rauner is working with the Illinois State Police on how to handle a proposal to make marijuana possession in small amounts punishable only with fines under a bill he appears poised to sign.

The legislation, which also sets a standard for what’s considered too high to drive, includes stronger provisions the Republican governor suggested to lawmakers last year as a condition for signing off on removing jail time for having 10 grams or less of pot. A chief sponsor of this year’s bill, Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, said the Rauner administration has assured her he will sign the bill but is waiting until next month to give law enforcement time to prepare for its implementation.

The bill comes as many states reconsider whether jail is the most appropriate punishment for petty pot offenses. If signed, Illinois would be the 17th state – and third largest – to treat possession of marijuana in small amounts as a civil offense rather than a criminal one, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which tracks legislation on the topic nationally. New York and California are among the states that have made the change.

Rauner has indicated support for reducing penalties for marijuana offenses, but his spokeswoman said in a statement he’s still reviewing the bill.

He received the bill on June 16th and has 60 days to take action.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

*** LIVE COVERAGE *** Rauner talks about redistricting

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* We’ll have a live audio and video stream and a ScribbleLive thingy at noon…

Daily Public Schedule: Monday, July 25, 2016

What: Governor Rauner Gives Remarks Regarding Independent Map Ruling and the Need for Political Reform
Where: 11 E. Madison St., Chicago - Fourth Floor
Date: Monday, July 25, 2016
Time: 12:00 p.m.​
Note: No additional media availability.

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

The “communications platform” stirs controversy

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* This is a pretty good story, so you should read the whole thing. But there’s something missing

Residents received the Illinois Valley Times in their mailboxes this week.

Despite its local name, the new publication has no presence here. Its parent organization, which is largely funded by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, is based in Chicago. One of its writers lives in New York.

The newspaper includes no mailing address or phone number and gives readers no information about who runs it, though it provides an email address and Twitter account.

The local version ran stories critical of state Rep. Andy Skoog, D-La Salle and complimentary of his opponent, Jerry Long, a Streator Republican. The eight-page paper includes four stories involving the candidates in the 76th House District, which consists of all or parts of La Salle, Bureau, Putnam and Livingston counties.

One story says Skoog is “part of the Madigan Machine,” referring to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. Another touts Long’s blue-collar credentials. Still another features the Republican Party’s assertion Skoog voted for a budget that included higher taxes, which is untrue.

As the story goes on to report, this is one of Dan Proft’s newspapers published by Liberty Principles PAC.

* And then there’s this story

The Illinois Press Association isn’t sure it really is a newspaper — they think it might be a political advertisement and are interested in finding out who’s behind it.

Don Craven, general counsel for the Illinois Press Association, said throughout the campaign season he was alerted to a series of publications crafted to look like newspapers. These would seem to have all come from the same source: The website for the Illinois Valley Times includes links to 13 sister publications such as “Rock Island Today” and the “Sangamon Sun.”

“They came out hot and heavy before the primary,” Craven said. “They did the same thing in several of the legislative districts during the primary.”

Each contains a smattering of news stories by Carol Ostrow, a reporter based not in Illinois but in upstate New York. Beyond those byline stories, however, the publications contain unsigned editorials and articles purporting to cover government bodies but simply reproducing meeting agendas open to the public.

The Illinois Valley Times clearly shows an editorial bias toward Republicans, such as statehouse candidate Jerry Long of Streator; but it wasn’t clear to Craven or other media watchdogs whether the publications are funded in full or in part through campaign contributions.

* So, what’s missing? Well, a couple of things. First, remember this from my recent newspaper column?

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been touring Illinois to talk about his new “messaging.” He’s quite excited about his “messaging” plans, telling one reporter that if he could do anything differently about his tenure so far it would be to improve the way he gets his message out to voters. Yep. That’s really what he said. […]

Rauner actually complained in Champaign last week about how “There’s no substance in the reporting,” before saying he was in the process of creating his own communication platforms to push his messaging directly to Illinoisans.

* The 1st Amendment likely protects Proft and Rauner, as well it should. But I can’t help but also wonder if local newspaper publishers might not relish the “competition.” Proft made a wise decision not to sell any advertising, including local, which would’ve irked those publishers to no end. Still, I could see some interesting times ahead.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

The tables have turned

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

During the second quarter of 2012, the Illinois House Republican Organization’s largest reported campaign expenditure was a $12,612 payment to the Internal Revenue Service. Indeed, six of HRO’s ten largest expenditures that quarter were for IRS payments, most likely quarterly withholding.

But four years later, the HRO’s spending focus is solidly on the campaign. The House Republicans’ top reported expenditure this past quarter was $173,000 for polling. And five of its top ten expenditures were listed as advertising buys.

All told, the House Republican Organization spent nearly $1.8 million during the second quarter of this year, which ended June 30th, on a campaign that’s already in full swing - on one side at least.

Almost all of the money raised by HRO came from the Illinois Republican Party, and that money mostly came from Gov. Bruce Rauner.

During the second quarter of 2012, the Illinois Republican Party reported spending just $4,130.63 on all expenses. This past quarter, however, the state GOP spent well over $2.7 million, with the bulk of that ($2 million) going to the House Republican Organization. The state party received an unprecedented $5 million check from Gov. Rauner’s campaign earlier in the quarter.

By contrast, the Democratic Party of Illinois reported spending just ninety-nine cents on state campaign activities during the recently concluded second quarter (the expenditure was not itemized). And while Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan reported spending $283K out of his personal campaign fund, his largest reported expenditure by far this past quarter was for IRS payments.

The tables have most definitely turned.

The House Republicans have flooded the airwaves of southern Illinois with massive advertising buys targeting three Democrats: Reps. John Bradley and Brandon Phelps and Sen. Gary Forby. It’s also running cable and network TV ads against several other Democrats. Only recently have some Democrats responded with their own ads.

A new TV ad against Sen. Forby, officially paid for by the House Republican Organization even though Forby is a Senator, blasts the incumbent Democrat for being in Speaker Madigan’s pocket. It’s way over the top because Forby isn’t really a “Madigan Democrat,” but that’s beside the point. Madigan is hugely unpopular so that’s just the way it goes.

“For decades,” the ad begins, “Mike Madigan has had an iron grip on Springfield and our own state Senator Gary Forby. Forby has helped Madigan drive Illinois into the ditch, raising our taxes while shortchanging our schools. 14 times, Forby’s backed Madigan’s phony budgets. $13 billion in deficit spending, to double the income tax and expand the sales tax. Forby rubber-stamped Madigan’s bailout for Chicago Public Schools. Gary Forby - Mike Madigan’s Senator, not ours.”

Forby has withstood millions of dollars in attacks since he first ran for the Illinois House in 2000, defeating a Republican opponent at the time by less than three points. His victory margins have steadily grown over the years, but this is the first time that the 71-year-old Benton incumbent has faced this sort of massive paid opposition this early.

And it’s not just TV. A recent direct mailer sent by the Illinois Republican Party has a photoshopped image of Madigan sitting at a restaurant table while Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillside) stands behind him dressed as a bow-tied waiter in a fancy restaurant with a cloth napkin draped over one arm. “Doubletalking Mike Smiddy Serving Mike Madigan Since 2013,” the front page blares. Smiddy was first elected without Madigan’s help and is not considered a “minion.” But, again, Madigan is intensely disliked. And you go with what works in campaigns.

“State Rep. Mike Smiddy Says He’s For Us… But Goes To Springfield And Does Madigan’s Bidding,” is the headline on the flip side. “Mike Smiddy serving Mike Madigan is costing our families,” the mailer declares. “Watch what Smiddy does in Springfield, not what he says in the Quad Cities.”

Will this focus on Madigan and Madigan alone work? It hasn’t in the past, but the governor’s people obviously believe it will or they wouldn’t be putting so many resources into this theme. They’ve picked a message and they’re repeating it endlessly everywhere. In past years, the anti-Madigan messaging didn’t have nearly the money or the intensity behind it, and Madigan’s approval poll numbers have fallen from horrible to horrific in the meantime.

The Democrats will use a very unpopular Rauner against Republicans, and they are expecting to benefit from their usual turnout bump during a presidential year. They also have a very impressive organization.

We’ll all find out in November who’s right.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Wikileaks docs show how Dem donor tried (and failed) to get back into the game

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* Tribune

The thousands of hacked Democratic National Committee emails posted online by Wikileaks drew plenty of attention over the weekend and led to the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Locally, the leak also revealed how a wealthy and one-time prolific Illinois campaign donor sought to get back into the good graces of the Democratic Party.

Niranjan Shah, CEO of Globetrotters Engineering, repeatedly has been shut out of DNC fundraising events, including ones with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the emails show. In 2009, Shah resigned as University of Illinois board chairman after the Chicago Tribune’s “Clout Goes to College” series unveiled an admissions scandal at the university.

The report detailed how influential politicians and appointees, including Shah, used their political ties to gain favorable treatment for family members and friends. Shah also used his influence to get a job for his future son-in-law at the university, the Tribune reported.

Go read the whole thing. Fascinating stuff. You can also search the leaked DNC Wikileaks page by clicking here.

* Related…

* Illinois Sanders delegates call DNC email leak ‘outrageous’

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Sandack replacement?

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Madigan reveals he’s talked to Durbin about running for governor

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* From the convention…

* Others are also being mentioned, either by supporters or by themselves…

* And then there’s this…

*** UPDATE ***  More from the Sun-Times

Madigan was also asked whether he had discussions with his daughter (Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan) about a gubernatorial run: “Not recently,” he said. […]

Madigan said the party would “defer” its pick to challenge Rauner until after the November election, all the while saying there are plenty of Democrats who are interested. […]

“I think that given the record of Bruce Rauner, which dovetails very nicely with the record of Donald Trump on extremism, you’ll find plenty of Illinois Democrats that are anxious to participate in the next governor’s election,” Madigan said, calling both Rauner and Trump “on the extreme end of the Republican party.”

“They’re both going to be rejected by America and in Illinois,” he said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

*** LIVE COVERAGE *** Democratic National Convention

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* Follow the Illinois-related news with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Durkin statement *** Sandack resigns

Monday, Jul 25, 2016

* Riopell

State Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican and vocal legislative ally of Gov. Bruce Rauner, is resigning from the Illinois House after saying he’s had “cyber security issues” in recent days.

Sandack had been facing a re-election race in November and is well known in Illinois politics for his heavy use of Twitter and Facebook, as well as his role as a floor leader for Republicans in the Illinois House.

Sandack did not return requests for comment Sunday evening. But Illinois House Republicans provided a statement Sandack sent to political blog Capitol Fax, which broke the news.

* I talked to Sandack Sunday, so subscribers know lots more. Here’s the full statement…

It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to serve the people of the 81st district for the past four years in Springfield. But after some cyber security issues arose, I began to re-evaluate my continued public service.

I have always recognized there is no greater privilege than being a father and husband. My duties in Springfield has meant missing a lot of events in the lives of my children. I am no longer willing to miss important family events.

Therefore, I decided to resign from my seat effective today. I will work with my Republican replacement to ensure that she or he is successfully elected to the seat next November.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  From the House GOP…

“Ron Sandack is a dedicated and caring public servant. I want to thank him for his service to his constituents and the entire State of Illinois. I wish him well in his future endeavors,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Durkin also sent this to his caucus members…

I spoke with Ron yesterday afternoon and respect his decision to resign. I am grateful for the work he has done collectively on behalf of our caucus and for his constituents. He will be missed.

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* Caption contest!
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