Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Daley Ryan Combine: One partner down, one to go?

With Former Governor George Ryan being sentenced today in federal court to 6 ½ years, for his convictions on racketeering activities going back to his days as Secretary of State, that brings Illinois politics one step closer to putting the George Ryan story behind it. [See here]. However, George is not scheduled to surrender himself to authorities until January 4, 2007, with the prosecutors recommending George take up residence at Club Fed in Oxford, Wisconsin [Will he get the Cong. Dan Rostenkowski bunk?]

Further, Judge Pallmeyer said today she may grant the Governor’s request for an appeal bond, i.e., George may remain free as his appeal for a new trial is argued to and decided by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Not usually done, unless the Judge thinks the defendant is likely to prevail on the appeal, but Pallmeyer is a softie [aka compassionate by the MSM] who also may take note of the big shots defending George and sitting next to his wife [See below]. It never hurts to have friends and counsel in high places.

Ryan’s twenty million dollar plus pro bono counsel, Dan Webb and associates, of the Chicago based 800 attorney Winston & Strawn law firm, argued this afternoon that George would be vindicated by the Appeals Court. It is unlikely that Dan would bet his hefty draw from his law firm at that prospect, but it sounded nice. Winston & Strawn’s long time Chairman, Jim Thompson, who was Governor when George was Lt. Gov., sat next to George Ryan’s wife [Lura Lynn] during the sentencing.

Thompson, who may have his own legal difficulties stemming from being asleep at the wheel, or at least groggy at the wheel, as Board Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee at Hollinger International, closed another chapter a few weeks ago by announcing he was stepping down [or being pushed out] as Winston’s Chairman. And, rounding out the circle, Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass wrote this morning that three decades ago, it was Thompson, as U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who was prosecuting and arguing vigorously for a stiff prison sentence for yet another convicted Illinois Governor, Otto Kerner [See here].

As the French say, the more things change, the more they stay the same: Prosecutors become Governors, Lt. Governors become Secretaries of State and Governors, Governors become defense counsel [Winston and Strawn now also represents Governor Blagojevich, as it develops a specialty practice: defending Illinois Governors accused of and/or investigated for public corruption].

That would make quite a dinner party, don’t you think? George Ryan and his wife, Lura Lynn; Jim Thompson and his wife, Jayne; Dan Webb; and, John Kass, who might be described by his targets, borrowing a phrase from William F. Buckley, as the turd in the punch bowl. Oh yes, you can’t have such a dinner party without Carol Marin. Maybe she could sit next to Mrs. Ryan and comment further on Lura Lynn's out-dated hair style and lipstick choices.

With my characteristic modesty, I must note I was spot on, as George Ryan apologist Eric Zorn might say, when I argued one year ago [See here] that WTTW’s, NBC-5 News’ and the Chicago Sun-Times’ Carol Marin was a bit off in her appeal to George to cop a plea. As I wrote, the best deal the feds would have offered George Ryan before the trial would probably have been 54 months and he got, today, 78 months. Who would cop a plea to get a likely sentence reduction of 24 months? Anyway, we know George is a high roller. High rollers, of course, roll the dice.

Carol, being in the MSM, thought George was still a Republican, and he might cop a plea to spare his beloved Republican Party. Yeah, right. As I wrote then, George and the GOP split up long ago. Now, then and for more than seven years, George has been a Democrat. Will somebody break the news to Carol. Hasn’t Carol noticed? George has evolved.

Indeed, in the next two months, the Topinka campaign might try to run some animated cartoons of George Ryan doing the Polka with his fellow Democrats: Gov. Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones and House Speaker Mike Madigan, not to mention many other Illinois Democratic Leaders. This might offset the impact of some of those real world Topinka-Ryan Polka ads we will see this Fall.

Of course, to be fair, Topinka should include a bunch of George’s Republican pol cronies doing the Polka with George, too. But, you can't really expect any partisan to be that fair, can you? I don't think so. ****************************************************************************
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at