Monday, April 26, 2004

Pat O'Malley, the Once and Future Republican Primary Candidate for Governor, argues for dumping Republican National Committeeman (Illinois) Bob Kjellander and much, much more on tonight's [April 26] City of Chicago edition of "Public Affairs," airing through-out the City of Chicago on Ch. 21 [just one channel short of CBS] at 8:30 pm. O'Malley debates and discusses various public policy and political topics with show host and legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz.

Honorable mentions on tonight's City of Chicago edition of "Public Affairs," include such notables as Corinne Wood, Rod Blagojevich, Judy Baar Topinka, Bob Schillerstrom, Bob Kjellander, Dave Sullivan, Kirk Dillard, Steve Rauschenberger, [RNC ?] Dan Proft, Barack Obama, Jack Ryan, Gary Skoien, Maureen Murphy, Tony Peraica, Andy McKenna, Jr. and Jim Oberweis.

Pat O'Malley, former three term state senator, suggests on tonight's Public Affairs that Illinois Leader President Dan Proft should replace Republican National Committeeman Bob Kjellander, who was the focus of criticism during the recent Republican primary U. S. senate race. O'Malley argues that Kjellander's actions to "secure," Republican votes [Sen. Sullivan and Sen. Dillard] to help Democratic Gov. Blagojevich pass legislation authorizing a bond sale of about 10 billion dollars showed poor judgment and put Kjellander's own interest ahead of the Republican Party. The legislation was opposed by Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson and the Senate Republican Caucus. O'Malley also argues that the Republican Party should start involving more young people [Proft is 31] in leadership roles .

O'Malley, although making a pitch for transparency by Jack Ryan, declines to say whether he was or is an investor in the, an online conservative publication. O'Malley, a former State Senator, states he is considering running for Governor, again, in 2006 and that he does not think State Senator Steve Rauschenberger will run for Governor, as he thinks Sen. Rauschenberger's interests are more in the legislative arena. He also discusses the possible gubernatorial candidacies of Judy Baar Topinka, Bob Schillerstrom and Corinne Wood. O'Malley and Berkowitz discuss, as well, the Jack Ryan/Barack Obama U. S. Senate race. A partial transcript of the show is included, below:
Berkowitz: As we sit here on April 10, there are two ways of looking at this [Senate] race, you have an...articulate conservative in Jack Ryan, somebody who we know and who has been on this show [two times], certainly articulate and thoughtful and is a good representative of the conservative point of view-- more than that, but that is one aspect; Barack Obama is articulate, been on this show [seven times], good representative of the liberal point of view, but the question is will we get to that [clash of views] because there is this issue of the sealed records, that is-- his[Jack Ryan's] child custody records, some would say his divorce records-- he would make that distinction-- are sealed and people are-- there are rumors about what is in there and should they be disclosed. Some are saying just that undercurrent is holding this race back from being the kind of discussion that I just mentioned of policy issues. What is your take on that? Is that currently happening and what will happen during the rest of the campaign?

O'Malley: Well, first of all, I know for a fact, because I got a call the day after the primary campaign, and Jack Ryan and his campaign staff were busy working the next day, which speaks well for their campaign. No. 2, this issue- you mentioned transparency before-- there has been some discussion that Mr. Ryan needs to become transparent on this issue. You know, at first blush, one would have to say- you know what, if he is protecting a child...

Berkowitz: If he is protecting a child, we would all agree that should be left confidential. But, if he is portecting himself and the Party from embarrassment, then what?

O'Malley: Well, my understanding is as of just these last couple of days, is that there is a referee who has been appointed to review the file and make a determination as to those items that need to be addressed to protect the interests of the child and distuinguish those from all others and I believe it is Ryan's intention to make those public. So, I think the public then will have the transparency that they are looking for--

Berkowitz: So, is it your sense that that will get removed as an issue and then we will see a race of [public policy] issues or--

O'Malley: Well, I hope it will get out of the way and that we will have a race of issues because I think you characterized both of these gentleman very well. I served in the [state] Senate at the same time as Barack Obama did; I think we shared six years together and Barack is-- He is certainly liberal, there is no question about that--

Berkowitz: Even as Jack Ryan is certainly conservative, to be fair.

O'Malley: He [Obama] also is articulate. Well, some people might say, if there is a moderate in this race- it is probably Jack, because Jack may be socially conservative; he may be fiscally conservative, but he also is almost a bleeding heart, about taking care of kids--

Berkowitz: about caring about the poor and Hope, Growth and Opportunity

O'Malley: and it is not just talk with Jack

Berkowitz: But, you can be conservative and be that, don't you think?

O'Malley: Absolutely, and that's the point.,,I was trying to say that if you are going to contrast them, I think the person who really cares in this race, based on my experience between serving with Barack and learning about Jack Ryan would be Jack Ryan.

Berkowitz: Well, I think Barack Obama certainly cares, too, so we are not going to let it go--

O'Malley: Oh, I have been there; I see how he cares.

Berkowitz: Well--

O'Malley: It's called [the] Great Society, reinvented.

Berkowitz: Well, you have a difference of opinion [as to what policies are best to pursue] but in terms of both individuals caring about assisting people, I think we can say they both care.

O'Malley: Oh, I don't question that.
Jeff Berkowitz: None of the other candidates, other than Rauschenberger, called for Bob Kjellander to step down [from his RNC post].

Patrick O'Malley: Not a one did.

Berkowitz: Now, Kjellander is a political operative, a lobbyist-- would that be a fair statement?

O'Malley: He is a lobbyist--

Berkowitz: He got an $800,000 fee for assisting in what?

O'Malley: Securing votes to pass a 10 billion dollar liability onto my children and my grandchildren. And, of course, everybody else's.

Berkowitz: He helped Gov. Blagojevich get the votes to pass the Governor's legislation to sell essentially 10 billion dollars worth of bonds, have an appreciation [of two billion billion dollars], credit that to reserves and therefore help deal with some of the deficit last year. Am I summarizing that correctly?

O'Malley: That's not what it did.

Berkowitz: It was an authorization to sell bonds, right?

O'Malley: It was an authorization to sell bonds, but the better interpretation--

Berkowitz: In the amount of?

O'Malley: 10 billion dollars was the authorization. You know, I am not going to argue his position--but let's look at the result. The people of Illinois are now 10 billlion dollars more in debt and the obligations--

Berkowitz: We don't know the result yet because the Blagojevich people were saying they could issue these bonds at five or five and one-half percent and get a return of eight per cent [on the funds] and therefore get essentially a two billion dollar capital gain.

O'Malley: Well, what they say and what's happening--

Berkowitz: But, that was the argument, right?

O'Malley: They can argue that until the cows come home; the bottom line is that it hasn't happened yet.

Berkowitz: Right, it is a thirty year plan.

O'Malley: This is government. Government shouldn't be speculating in the market place.

Berkowitz: So, you would have opposed that legislation?

O'Malley: Absolutely. Most Republicans in Illinois--

Berkowitz: And Gov. Blagojevich needed some Republican votes on that [to pass that legislation in the Senate] even though the Democrats have a pretty wide margin.

O'Malley: He [Blago] needed two Republican votes and Bob Kjellander went and secured them.

Berkowitz: And, who did he get to vote for this?

O'Malley: Well, the two that he[Kjellander] brought to the table were Sullivan from Park Ridge--

Berkowitz: State Senator Dave Sullivan

O'Malley: and [State] Senator Kirk Dillard from Hinsdale.

Berkowitz: And, he [Kjellander] secured them, that's what you are saying?

O'Malley: Correct

Berkowitz: And, do you think that kind of action, earning that kind of fee [$800,000], assisting Gov. Blagojevich- in your mind, is that accurate, is that what you think happened?

0'Malley: That's absolutely what I think happened.

Berkowitz: And, do you think that disqualifies him from being the RNC representative from Illinois?

O'Malley: It shows poor judgment and it shows putting personal interest ahead of what's good for the party.

Berkowitz: And, on May 14-15, there is a Republican State Party Convention in Collinsville, Illinois and that issue will be coming up among those who are attending that convention?

O'Malley : Well, that issue is alive and well right now, today. There is no question about it.

Berkowitz: It could be changed today? The Republican State Cental committee, is that what it is called? Those individuals could change that. right?

O'Malley: Yes, they could.

Berkowitz: And, even if they don't want to do it, the appropriate people who are attending the convention who have the power, they could cause the State Central Committee to put this up for a vote [The 19 State Central Committee members- one from each congressional district-- each appoint a nominator, and if seven of the nineteen nominators support sending the RNC position to the Convention for a vote of county delegates, off it goes. So, are there 7 State Central Committee nominators who would like to see Kjellander replaced?]

O'Malley: If there is a groundswell and there is a candidate at the convention, yes, that could happen.

Berkowitz: ...will it happen?

O'Malley: I would say right now it is in a period of formation.
whether it will--

Berkowitz: Who are some of the candidates to replace Bob Kjellander?

O'Malley: I think a lot of the U. S. Senate candidates's names havs have been mentioned.

Berkowitz: Steve Rauschenberge?

O'Malley: Steve's name has been mentioned.

Berkowitz: My understanding is that Steve doesn't want to do it. Is that your understanding?

O'Malley: I don't have a clear message from Steve on that...

Berkowitz: Who else? Is Oberweis thinking of challenging?

O'Malley: I haven't heard yet.

Berkowitz: McKenna?

O'Malley: McKenna...has said no...

Berkowitz: Would you support Andy Mckenna, Jr. if he were interested in it.

O'Malley: I could. Sure. Andy is a solid young man. I think he could do a great job for us.

Berkowitz: Pat O'Malley, would he do it?

O'Malley: If Pat O'Malley needed to do it, Pat O'Malley would be happy to do it. I would think Steve Rauschenberger feels the same way. But, let me make an appeal on your show for something else. I think it is time for Republicans in this state to start embracing young people. What a great opportunity right now with that office being opened up. Let's get one of the young people--

Berkowitz: Who do you have in mind?

O'Malley: Dan Proft would be excellent.

Berkowitz: Now, as we just said, you and Dan are very close. Dan is what- he is the President of the Illinois Leader- that is an online publication--, the Illinois Conservative voice, that has been around for, what, over a year-at least a year, longer--

O'Malley: Dan is 34 years old [Actually, only 31, but as a result of working so many jobs at one time, he may give the appearance of being 34] and the number of young people in this state who are looking for something to connect with is phenomenal and I think it would be a great opportunity for the Republican Party to embrace young people.

Jeff Berkowitz: Now, back to the Illinois Leader, are you the financial backer of the Illinois Leader?

Pat O'Malley: [Lots of laughter by Pat O'Malley]

Berkowitz: Well, that's a legitimate question, isn't it?

O'Malley: No, Dan Proft is the President of the Illinois Leader and he is doing a great job.

Berkowitz: He is the officer, but who provided the financial backing for the Illinois Leader.

O'Malley: As far as I know, Dan Proft did.

Berkowitz: ...So, you don't have any investment in the Illinois Leader?

O'Malley: Why would I have an investment in the Illinois Leader?

Berkowitz: I asked you a question. Do you have an investment in the Illinois Leader?

O'Malley: [More laughter]

Berkowitz: Are you going to answer that question.

O'Malley: Maybe we should speculate- let everybody speculate that I do.

Berkowitz: Okay, so you do have an investment in the Illinois Leader?

O'Malley: No, I didn't say that and I won't say that.

Berkowitz: You won't answer. It is privately held and you won't disclose who it is who owns the Illinois Leader.

O'Malley: I don't know those facts. It is not for me to share.

Berkowitz: You don't know those facts.

O'Malley: I am not in a position or privileged to share that kind of information.

Berkowitz: You say you are not in a position to-- do you know who owns the Illinois Leader?

O'Malley: I have some ideas of my own.

Berkowitz: What would those ideas be?

O'Malley: They are not for publication.

Berkowitz: Why is that? It is a serious thing. We always talk about transparency in politics. Here is an important publication and it is important certainly within conservative circles. And, you have just suggested that Dan Proft should be considered to be the RNC representative from Illinois. And, Dan Proft is the President of the Illinois Leader. Isn't it important to know how closely aligned Pat O'Malley is with the Illinois Leader. Does he [O'Malley] have an ownership share? If he doesn't, who does? It is a legitimate question for transparency.

Pat O'Malley: Call Dan Proft.

Berkowitz: You don't want to tell us. I think we have asked him before and I think he has said it is held privately and he is not going to disclose the owners. I think he said that on this show.

O'Malley: Maybe he and they can change their minds. [After this taping, Public Affairs contacted Dan Proft and Proft said the Illinois Leader was privately owned and he would not disclose the identities of the owners].
Jeff Berkowitz: …Pat O’Malley, as we sit here on [April] 10th, the two people [who are running for Cook County GOP chairman] are Maureen Murphy, who currently is the Cook County GOP Chairman and she is also on the Board of Review…and she is being challenged by Cook County Board Member Tony Pereica…and so Pat O’Malley, who is going to win…?

Pat O’Malley: My understanding is that there is a third candidate out there.

Berkowitz: Who is that?

O’Malley: I am not at liberty to announce who that candidate is. It was just shared with me the other day…somebody…in the northwestern suburban communities.

Berkowitz: What about you? Are you supporting Peraica? Murphy? Or somebody else?

O’Malley: That selection is made by the elected chairmen from the townships and the city wards, …there is no opportunity for anyone else.

Berkowitz: …You could twist…a few arms, if you want to. Who are you supporting?

O’Malley: I have not gotten involved in it.

Berkowitz; … you are not predicting who will win?

O’Malley: you know I would say that Peraica is very aggressive and Maureen Murphy has had a challenging tenure. I think she has served in this capacity for two years and she has been very challenged by all the problems that exist for Republicans in Cook County and it would seem to me that there is a real opportunity here for a third candidate to slip in and somehow make peace.

Berkowitz: Peraica is sort of a moderate, at least on some social issues; Maureen is pretty socially conservative, they are both economic conservatives; That is my impression, is that your impression?

O’Malley: I would say on the latter issue, I think that is absolutely true.

Berkowitz: What about socially conservative?

O’Malley: There is no question that Maureen is. I served with her. She was in the General Assembly.

Berkowitz: Would you as a social conservative be concerned about having Peraica there.

O’Malley: I really don’t know what Peraica’s position is on social issues.

Berkowitz: I think he said on this show that he would support Senate Bill 101 [Legislation to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing and employment]

O’Malley: Is that right?

Berkowitz: That was more than a few months ago. Perhaps that has changed. Of course, it wasn’t something he was focusing on a lot…

O’Malley: I wonder if he knew what it was all about.

Berkowitz: Well, I tried to explain it [to him on the show]

O’Malley: Of course, they [ Cook County] had a registry they established [to facilitate domestic partnership employee benefits].

Berkowitz: That’s right, he opposed that, but he said on this show that he opposed it because he didn’t think it would have any impact—it wasn’t so much- I didn’t get the impression- philosophically [he did say that that he had to represent his constituents]. You understand that? You don’t get “Public Affairs,” so you may miss out on some of this.

O’Malley: I should get “Public Affairs.”
Pat O’Malley, interviewed on “Public Affairs,” recorded on April 10, 2004, and as is being cablecast in throughout the City of Chicago tonight, Monday, April 26 at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21; Ed. note: On April 14, 2004, the Cook County GOP Ward and Township committeemen elected Palatine Township Republican Committeeman [and former Gov. Jim Thompson staffer] Gary Skoien as their new Cook County GOP Chairman, with Skoien defeating the incumbent-- Maureen Murphy, 61% to 39%, and Peraica dropping out of the race before the election. See, blog entries, below, for analyses of the election.
Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of "Public Affair," and author of this blog, can be contacted at