Gov says he won't stop contributions from state contractors

June 26, 2008 9:02:39 PM PDT
Governor Rod Blagojevich was expecting to raise millions of dollars for a possible re-election bid Thursday night.He was holding a fundraiser at an art center near Navy Pier.

Governor Blagojevich is Illinois' only statewide elected official who still takes political contributions from state contractors. And in fact, according to several studies, three-quarters of his campaign cash last year came from those doing business with the state, lobbying the state or facing state regulation even though the federal corruption cases against Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine, Joseph Cari and Ali Ata all involve allegations of "pay to play politics" inside the Blagojevich administration.

"This looks like such a conflict of interest. Whether it's a bribe or a shakedown, it's wrong. And we urge the governor to stop taking money from contractors," said David Morrison, Campaign for Political Reform.

The governor raised two-and-a-half million dollars last year. But nearly a third of the money - $965,000 - went to the law firm representing him in the corruption probe. And that's pathetic, according to state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who takes no campaign contributions from people who do business with his office.

"Pay to play needs to end immediately, and the perception that Rod Blagojevich and their administration has put out there is that government is for sale," said Giannoulias.

"I think it's good government to follow the rules as the rules exits, and when you want to make the rules better and make them apply equally across the board to everybody, and not just the phony rules that don't change anything," said Blagojevich.

Blagojevich claims correctly that there is no law against taking campaign cash from contractors or others doing business with the state. And his allies say he's got to do it to protect himself from political enemies, such as house speaker and party chairman Mike Madigan, who also takes contributions from anyone who wants to give.

"He doesn't like Rod Blagojevich. So Rod is left to raise money on his own and doing what he has to do," said State Senator Rickey Hendon, (D) Chicago.


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