Subscribe for 33¢ / day

With each new report of investigations into Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign fund and other dealings, the need for stronger ethics legislation in Illinois becomes readily apparent to everyone except, apparently, the governor and some top legislative leaders.

Records from the governor's campaign fund reportedly have been subpoenaed by federal investigators looking into corruption.

Another big-time financial supporter and former Blagojevich appointee has been indicted as part of that federal probe.

Ali D. Ata, former executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, has been charged with aiding and abetting wire fraud.

The person he allegedly aided and abetted was Antoin Rezko - another big-time Blagojevich contributor facing federal charges.

In 2005, when Ata was appointed to the $125,000 a year post at the then-newly created agency, questions were raised about a major contributor being picked to head the state's top bonding agency despite a lack of financial experience.

Cindi Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform said back then that the appointment of a large contributor "raises a red flag."

The list of major Blagojevich contributors who have been appointed to boards, commissions and related positions includes more than Ata.

Andrew Davis, who was appointed to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission in 2005, and his companies have made more than $30,000 in campaign donations to the governor. Earlier this year, Davis was made executive director of the agency.

Bruce Meckler, whose law firm has made $127,000 in campaign donations to Blagojevich, was selected for the Illinois Board of Elections.

Other appointees to the elections board include Mary Penn of Bloomington, wife of John Penn, chairman of the McLean County Democratic Party and an official in the Laborers' International Union. The union has made more than $1.3 million in campaign contributions to Blagojevich.

There may be nothing wrong with these appointments but, to borrow Canary's phrase in reference to Ata, they raise a red flag.

Meanwhile, House Bill 1, which would place restrictions on donations from state contractors, continues to wallow in the Senate Rules Committee more than six weeks after it was unanimously approved by the Illinois House.

Forty-five of the 59 members of the Senate have signed on as sponsors so far, including all senators from the Pantagraph area. But Senate President Emil Jones won't let it out of committee.

If Jones has a better idea, we want to hear it - before the next indictment is handed down.


Load comments