En route to Mississippi I drove through Vienna (pronounced VYE-uh-nuh), Illinois, where I came across the Paul Powell Museum. A longtime Illinois Democratic politician, he was Illinois' Secretary of State when he died in 1970. Twenty years later, Republican George Ryan would be elected to the post.
Powell was possible the most dishonest Illinois politician ever, which is saying a lot. In many states, the Secretary of State's office is known as the department of motor vehicles. While Powell was Secretary of State, checks for driver's licences were made out to "Paul Powell," not "Illinois Secretary of State," or even "Paul Powell, Secretary of State."
After he died, over $800,000 in cash, much of it in a shoebox, was found in Powell's Springfield hotel suite. Powell never earned a salary of more than $30,000 a year. I wonder where that cash came from?
I was on tight schedule--I didn't want to be on the road while I took part in a teleconference--so I was unable to visit the museum, which is in downtown Vienna.
One day there may be a George Ryan museum in his hometown of Kankakee. Why I am I talking about the disgraced former secretary of state, who later became governor?
Because earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, refused to hear Ryan's appeal of his 2006 racketeering and fraud conviction.
Ryan chose not to run for re-election in 2002, his successor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, who lied to 12 million Illinoisans when he proclaimed "I will govern as a reformer," nervously awaits the jurors' verdict in the corruption trial of his friend and political confidante Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Another friend of the governor, Christopher Kelly, faces was indicted on tax charges last year. In the last two years, Blagojevich's campaign fund has piled up over $2 million in legal bills.
The Democrats control the each of the state's constitutional offices, and it hold a majority of both houses of the General Assembly. So it's up to the opposition, the Republican Party to fix things, right?
I still think so, but the Illinois GOP has to work on its image. Ryan's attorney is former Illinois Governor James R. Thompson, a Republican. And now that Ryan's appeals are exhausted, Thompson plan to ask President Bush to commute Ryan's prison sentence.
Yeah, he is Ryan's lawyer, but doesn't Thompson care about the state? Or the party? Folks watching the television news tonight, or reading tomorrow morning's papers, will have this image to digest. A former Republican governor asking the president to commute the prison sentence of another former Republican governor.
Thompson undoubtedly knows other lawyers. Why can't he ask one of them to represent Ryan. It's not about money, since I believe Thompson, whose image was tarnished while serving on the board of Hollinger, is representing Ryan pro bono.
If the Illinois Republican Party is going to, as I've phrased it in the past, "take back the state," we have to completely wash our hands of the mess of the George Ryan legacy. Thompson is not helping things.
Perhaps there is a museum board seat in Thompson's future.
Thanks for the link:
It's My Mind
Technorati tags: politics Illinois Democrats Chicago Tony Rezko corruption legal Blagojevich Southern Illinois George Ryan history Republican Bush