Monday, May 22, 2006

Roskam: Is Duckworth a Chicago Machine puppet?

6th CD Republican Nominee Peter Roskam doesn’t need to do much to link his opponent Major Tammy Duckworth to her benefactors, DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel, Senator Dick Durbin and Mayor Daley. Indeed, that linkage was well established by her Democratic Primary competitors Christine Cegelis and Lindy Scott. Further, it is not clear how much the wounds of that bitter battle have been healed.

No doubt, some of those Cegelis/Scott netroots supporters [See here, Public Affairs, Jan. 8, 2006] would rather teach Cong. Emanuel, Senator Durbin, Mayor Daley and Senator Obama a lesson, rather than achieve a 6th CD win with Duckworth, whom they view as an interloper if not a carpetbagger. [Lindy Scott:..."Voters want to know how good would she [Duckworth] be as a representative." ; Christine Cegelis: ..."I think what is unfortunate is that they [Emanuel, Daley and Obama] brought someone [Duckworth] into the race without talking at all to the local people, like the Democratic Township Chairs, or the grassroots people...who have been working on my campaign for the last two years." Public Affairs, January 8, 2006]

Further, even without the current news of the Robert Sorich trial, the voters in the DuPage dominated 6th CD have no love for the Chicago machine, symbolized by Emanuel and the machine’s long-time master, Mayor Daley.

And, it is old news that Daley and his protégé, Emanuel, appear to have benefited significantly from the activities of their convicted water boy, Don Tomczak.

“Mayor Daley and Rep. Rahm Emanuel [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (“DCCC”) Chairman] received campaign support from the political army of Donald Tomczak, the indicted former city Water Department boss, at the direction of unnamed city officials, according to a prosecution document released today. [See here]. See testimony of Falcon in Sorich trial, below.

And, did Daley and Emanuel get all those benefits [remember, Rahm actually had a tough Democratic Primary in 2002, and if he had lost that one, there would be no Tammy Duckworth 6th CD candidacy] with no involvement from their staff with the likes of General Tomczak?
Cong. Rahm Emanuel: No, I don’t think Mayor Daley picked up the phone and said, "Don Tomczak, go work for Rahm.".

Jeff Berkowitz: No, but somebody in your campaign who knew--would have to know where they [the Tomczak army] could help Rahm Emanuel the most. If it wasn’t the Mayor, somebody from your campaign had to tell them where to go [to help Rahm Emanuel in the 2002 Primary].

Cong.Rahm Emanuel: First of all, I got help from, as I said earlier, …from the police union, firefighters union… [See here]
So, with the above as a backdrop, Roskam scored a few points about the recent disclosures in and out of court about Blago’s clout list , the City's use of government employees for political work, and Robert Sorich’s alleged politicization of the City hiring process.

The group did work for such Democratic candidates as presidential nominee Al Gore, gubernatorial nominee Glenn Poshard, Mayor Daley, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) and Ald. Patrick Levar (45th) and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan at the direction of Sorich, as part of Daley's political organization, Falcon testified.

Roskam did this by tying Duckworth to
the funding help she got from Rahm, et al [only 12 Duckworth donors from within 6th CD, argued Roskam] and the nominating petition help Duckworth got from Blago. Roskam then asked, in light of that campaign help, to whom would Duckworth be accountable?

The MSM and blogger media, being fair and balanced and spun a bit by the Duckworth spinners, counterpunched a bit at Roskam regarding his own ties to the muddied up, of late, Cong. Delay and VP Cheney. Wheaton Senator and 6th CD Republican nominee Roskam reminded the media of the cavernous difference in the analogies they were drawing and Sen. Roskam may have a point. It is one thing for Roskam to get help at a funder or two from Cheney and Delay. It is quite another for Emanuel, Durbin and Obama to basically provide a “Turnkey,” primary operation for Duckworth. At a minimum, you gotta love that word, “cavernous.”

On a somewhat different point, Roskam seemed to be surprisingly lukewarm to President Bush coming in to campaign with him. This is surprising in light of [a] the famous Topinka [or Topinka staff] comments to George Will about wanting Bush to raise money for her, if he could do so late at night and in an undisclosed location and [b] the fact that Bush, even with low national approval ratings, is thought to be a bit more popular in the 6th CD than in Illinois, at large. Maybe Sen. Roskam knows something we don’t know.

And, yet, Senator Roskam welcomed Karl Rove, dubbed “Bush’s Brain,” by the Democrats, on Saturday morning, to meet with and energize the grassroots for Roskam. On the one hand, Rove’s discussion of how the grassroots can help Roskam win could be invaluable. On the other hand, although not quite the middle of the night, the complimentary breakfast meeting occurred at 7:00 am. at the Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton, with rumors flying around DC that Rove could be indicted as soon as this morning. As everybody knows, politics, like football, is a game of inches. The trick is to get a jump on your opponent, without drawing the penalty flag.
Sen. Peter Roskam [R-Wheaton, and 6th Cong. Dist. Republican Nominee]: I think there is a cavernous difference between working for someone for seven months twenty years ago and having people circulate petitions, raise money, manage a campaign and orchestrate a campaign. Tammy Duckworth [6th Cong. Dist. Democratic Nominee] has completely embraced the corrupt political operation that catapulted her [to victory] in the [three candidate] Primary. I think that is really different from the nature of the campaign that I have been running. [Ed. Note: Roskam must like the word “cavernous”; this is at least the second time he used it within a week. It is a good word; I might start copying the Senator on this one.]

Jeff Berkowitz: Are you disassociating yourself from [former Majority Leader] Tom Delay. Didn’t he do a fundraiser for you?

Sen. Roskam: [Cong.] Tom Delay was on a list that Speaker Hastert did in the late part of 2005. Tom Delay is going to be out of Congress. He is not running my campaign. He is not in campaigning for me. But, what’s happening is- the Blagojevich Administration employed individuals to circulate petitions for my opponent. Mayor Daley’s brother is raising money for my opponent. I think that is a problem, especially when you end up with your name on a clout list and we have seen a pattern of that, of this type of machine being used and deployed to get out the vote. I think that’s a very, very different situation than in my campaign. We had 200 people in the 6th Cong. Dist. who circulated petitions for me. We had 900 contributors who live in the 6th Cong. Dist. My opponent only has a dozen and yet she raised a million dollars.
Senator Peter Roskam: Well, I have nothing but respect for my opponent’s service but at the end of the day you have to decide to WHOM are you going to be accountable and WHO are you going to represent. I am suggesting that of the million dollars that my opponent has raised, with only twelve contributors in the District, the question is what is it about her politics that is so unattractive to the voters in the 6th Cong. District. Why is it that she needs help from people [Senator Durbin and Cong. Emanuel] who are on the clout list? Why is it that she had to go to Mayor Daley’s brother, and asked him to raise money? I think those are questions that have to be asked and answered during the course of the 6th Cong. Dist. campaign?

Jeff Berkowitz: Is it because she hasn’t been in politics for the last twelve years, as you have. So, coming onto the scene, having a different background [from you], she had to rely on an organization. Is that necessarily bad?

Sen. Roskam: Well, she certainly is relying heavily on an organization and my question is: Why did you choose that organization? Why do you choose an organization that is subject to testimony upstairs in the federal courthouse?

Berkowitz: It’s the Democratic Organization. Who should she choose?

Sen. Roskam: That’s a question that I think is implicit. Why are you [6th CD Democratic Nominee Maj. Tammy Duckworth] embracing a culture that is so subject to investigation and what is it about her positions that she has to rely on folks from the city in a very robust political organization and muscle her way onto the ballot in the 6th Cong. District.

Craig Dellimore [WBBM 780 AM Radio Political Editor]: But, again, you are not saying that anybody you have connected her to has even been accused of doing anything wrong.

Sen. Roskam: Well, the accusations are going to be coming out upstairs. What I am saying is that a clout list is a problem. This is a pattern. When you are a recruited candidate by people whose names are on a clout list; when they are raising money for you- Cong. Emanuel and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has earmarked over $40,000 through the DCCC for the Duckworth Campaign; when you go to Bill Daley last month and say will you please raise money in the midst of all of this that is going on and we hear testimony yesterday where your patron [Cong. Emanuel] is benefited from having City workers manipulated on his campaign [See generally, here] and yet you have top Blagojevich officials who come out and are circulating petitions on her campaign—I think that raises some serious questions that need to be answered.

Craig Dellimore: One quick follow-up. Have you never recommended anyone for a state job?

Sen. Peter Roskam: I don’t think I have. I mean, written letters of recommendation may be one thing but showing up on a secret clout list is…

Jeff Berkowitz: But, Judy Baar Topinka was on the clout list for George Ryan. Does that mean that you won’t accept help from Judy Baar Topinka?

Senator Roskam: What I am saying is that my candidate [opponent] has embraced the machine from the City of Chicago that is more than the borders of the 6th Cong. District…I think the question then becomes to whom are you going to listen? To whom are you going to be accountable?
Another reporter: Senator, you also have been getting help from Dick Cheney’s office. Dick Cheney’s office is under investigation [and] his aide [Scooter Libby] has been indicted. People start to link that in- [Cong.] Delay, [Cong. Duke] Cunningham and [Vice-President] Cheney- and they say there is a pattern of corruption in DC right now that has been helping you out. What do you say to that?

Senator Roskam: Here is what I find ironic. My opponent is very quick historically to criticize Republican corruption everywhere. Her silence today is deafening. Her patrons are under attack, are under investigation and are being mentioned in a federal corruption trial and yet my opponent is silent. These folks have come in and helped me in my campaign to make a one-time appearance. That is whole-heartedly different than being managed, orchestrated, completely financed and put on the ballot by an operation.

Jeff Berkowitz: You stand by the President? Would you like Bush to come in and campaign for you?

Sen. Roskam: [holds his hand to his ear indicating he can’t hear, which probably reflected the fact that there was a lot of background noise on the first floor of the Everett McKinley Dirksen Courthouse.]

Jeff Berkowitz: Would you like President Bush to come in and campaign for you?

Senator Peter Roskam: We’ll see what the schedule’s like and so forth.
[Press Conference concludes]
A partial transcript of State Senator and 6th CD Republican Nominee Peter Roskam [Wheaton], answering questions at a Press Conference on May 18, 2006, at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse Building in downtown Chicago.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at