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About Those Indicted Nurses

During my 25 years of employment with the State of Illinois, I became aware of how much public corruption is connected to political fundraising. I was less than a year on the job as a Secretary of State Police Officer when my sergeant attempted to hit me up for a couple hundred of dollars for an Alan Dixon fundraiser. That same sergeant eventually went to prison for shaking down licensed auto rebuilders. It turns out one of the shops was an FBI sting operation intending to crack down on organized auto theft rings in Chicago. The sergeant was a by-product.

Annually, employees of the Secretary of State were expected to purchase fundraiser tickets from their supervisors. This became a personal concern when I was assigned to the Department of Inspector General in 1987 as the special agent-in-charge for northern Illinois. Frequently, driving schools, taxi drivers, and automobile dealers complained to the IG about being shaken down for fundraiser tickets.

The issue exploded under George Ryan when commercial driver's licenses were being issued to unqualified truck drivers in exchange for buying these tickets. A total of 80 defendants were convicted in the federal Operation Safe Roads investigation. Marion Seibel, the license examiner who issued the CDL to Ricardo Guzman who caused a fatal accident in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, admitted to federal authorities that she contributed $80,000 to Citizens for Ryan from money extorted from CDL applicants.

Both Ryan and his successor Rod Blagojevich were also caught up in fundraising through extorting money from vendors wanting to do business with the state. Ryan's contributors' list consisted of a software distributor, license sticker manufacturer and commercial property landlords. The recently convicted Blagojevich's shakedowns include a children's hospital and the vacant seat of a U.S. Senator.

On Thursday, two Chicago women were accused of stealing half a million dollars of Illinois grant money. History and experience tells me people do not get grants in this state without clout, and that clout usually correlates to political fundraising.

"Subpoenas from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office arrived in August 2010 at five state agencies seeking copies of contracts and other records related to nearly 50 not-for-profit agencies and more than a dozen individuals," AP reported.

"A number of the agencies said they received grants with the assistance of then-state Sen. [Rickey] Hendon. Several of the individuals also had ties to Hendon. Early this year, Hendon, a Chicago Democrat, resigned from the Legislature, though he did not explain why."

The article did not mention fundraising so I decided to look up some figures on the State Board of Elections website's Contribution Search. This a useful tool is available to all citizens and can be used to see who is in whose pockets.

Margaret Davis, one of the accused, lists her occupation on the state's website as nurse. Nurse Davis has contributed $4,563 to Hendon, her largest benefactor. (A couple of her other benefactors in the four-figure range include former interim Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele and convicted ex-governor Rod Blagojevich.)

Tonja Cook, the other accused, also is reported as a nurse. She too contributed to Hendon, but only slightly less. Her contributions to the former state senator total $3,200.

The connection of these contributions to how 50 non-for profit agencies and 12 individuals receiving with ties to Hendon received the grant money is unclear. But Illinois' historic pattern of pay-to-play raises suspicions.

If there is a quid pro quo, Fitzgerald's office will find it and Hendon will be seeking the advice of a good criminal attorney. I believe the Sam Adam father-and-son tag team might be available.

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Ed Hammer is a retired Illinois Secretary of State Police Captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty: How and Insider Links the Death of Six Children to the Politics of Convicted Governor George Ryan.

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See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board
* Cop vs. Teacher
* Signs of Change
* Pols vs. Teachers
* The Terre Haute Redemption
* Rahm's War On Teachers

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on July 9, 2011


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