Saturday, June 07, 2008

Illinois State GOP ain't ready for reform: Kjellander, Rove and McKenna win another one. A McCain Connection?

Significant revisions made and links added at 3:00 pm on Saturday
Kjellander happy with his RNC Successor: Pat Brady, cousin of downstate State Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington)

--Did Kjellander and McKenna succeed yesterday in slowing down effots to reform the State GOP?

In a display of what their critics viewed as the exercise of raw political power (Chicago style), Illinois’ current RNC guy, Bob Kjellander, and State GOP Chairman Andy McKenna [See here for comments about the Daley-McKenna Combine] reasserted their control and stranglehold over the Illinois Republican Party yesterday. Together and with “a little help from their friends,” it appears Team Kjellander-McKenna installed Pat Brady as the new Republican National Committeeman from Illinois (to take effect after the Republican National Convention in September).

--Pat Brady, a relative unknown

Not a great deal is known about Pat Brady, other than he was touted about a month ago to this reporter over former Sen. Rauschenberger for the RNC position by State Rep. Jim Durkin. Durkin described Brady as a “fresh face,” out of St. Charles, IL, a former federal prosecutor, a principal at Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP, where he leads that entity's Midwest Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Anti-Money Laundering initiatives, very involved in the McCain campaign and a “friend of John McCain’s.”

Durkin is also an FOM, i.e.,"Friend of McCain." and is the current Illinois Chairman of the McCain for President campaign. The Durkin-Brady connection apparently goes back to their days of both working as Assistant State's Attorneys in Cook County and both working on the 2000 McCain for President campaign.

--Did Kjellander give a Kiss of Death to Brady?

To balance out Brady's professional image as someone who helps private companies investigage internal corruption issues, Brady’s fresh face was seen (by reliable sources) being hugged joyously by Bob Kjellander after yesterday’s vote making Brady Illinois’ new RNC guy. After that hug by Individual K (as Kjellander is known in some of U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's plea aggrements), you have to wonder if "Pat Brady's fresh face," might need some scrubbing with an extra strong cleansing agent.

Last month this reporter had this exchange with Rep. Durkin about Pat Brady and Bob Kjellander:
Durkin upset with Kjellander for not bringing home the bacon?

Berkowitz: You think Brady would be critical of Kjellander and what he has been doing for the last four or five years, if not longer.

Rep. Durkin: Yeah, I think so.

Berkowitz: You think so, but you’re not sure. He’s not saying?

Rep. Durkin: I mean, right now, I’m telling—

Berkowitz: Rauschenberger was critical of Kjellander.

Rep. Durkin: I’m sure he’s going to—what has Kjellander brought back to Illinois? nothing. He’s brought nothing back to the Republican Party. He’s been using it and the position as a way to go out and hang out with his buddy Karl Rove.
--The responsibilities of an RNC member

Well, some of us are unsure what the RNC folks are supposed to do. Durkin seems to suggest, to this reporter’s surprise, it is about bringing home the bacon, and the problem with Kjellander was not the corruption/ethical issues that have been raised but his “failure to bring home the bacon.”[Jim Durkin was unavailable for comment on this story].

As a forensics investigator and a former prosecutor, you might think Brady should look or might want to look, from time to time, at the State GOP books. For example, who works for the State GOP (Friends and Family of the Chairman)? at what salaries? are the salaries inflated? and is the State GOP getting enough bang for its buck?

But, if the State GOP Chairman and staffers were pounding the pavement and working the phones for Pat Brady during this last week (or before), could Pat Brady turn around and check up on the State GOP? Would former prosecutor Brady call that a conflict and what would his code of ethics require him to do about that Conflict? Or, does Pat Brady view this job as about "Bringing home the Bacon," and and fundraising,-- and therefore (thankfully, say the State GOP leaders) Brady will not deal with the above ethical issues?

Is the Illinois State GOP, under McKenna-Kjellander, consistent with McCain's Straight Talking Express? Perhaps McCain needs to find out more about the Illinois State GOP "reform movement," to which he just became connected. This might not be McCain's brand of "reform."

Yesterday’s vote for Pat Brady was, technically, simply a recommendation. However, everybody is agreed that the “recommendation,” will be ratified at today’s State GOP convention in Decatur, Illinois.

--The implicated Bob Kjellander

As to the joyous Kjellander, so happy to see Pat’s victory, he has not been charged with anything yet, but he was “implicated,” in the Rezko trial. A state pension board lawyer who has already pleaded guilty told grand jurors that Bill Cellini told him "Bob Kjellander's job is to take care of the U.S. attorney." See here. [By “take care of,” they meant “replace U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald with someone who is not quite as focused on public corruption.”]

Kjellander also has a funky history with respect to very high fees [809K] from Bear Stearns in conjunction with very little work on the 2003 Blagojevich ten billion dollar “bond scheme.” Bond work is also said to have been a factor in yesterday’s vote for Brady. Follow the money, follow the bond legal and brokerage fees-- if you want to understand Illinois politics. Another Pat, as in U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, could be eyeing some targets, even as this is being written.

Rauschenberger beat in 2004

Former Senator Steve Rauschenberger was one of the few Republican leaders brave enough to stand up to Kjellander four years ago-- raising the issue of whether KJ was furthering his own interest, as opposed to that of the Party, when Senator Rauschenberger ran against Kjellander for Illinois' Republican National Committeeman. For his trouble, Rauschenberger lost the vote eighteen to one. The State GOP Central Committee essentially said in 2004, not unlike this year, “We ain’t ready for reform.”

Rauschenberger, who entered the State Senate in 1992 as one of the Fab Five reformers (along with Peter Fitzgerald, Pat O’Malley, Dave Syverson and Chris Lauzen), left the senate in 2006 to run for Lt. Governor in the Republican Primary, on a ticket with Reformer Ron Gitwitz. [Rauschenberger lost to Joe Birkett, who was teamed up with Judy Baar Topinka, aka the non-reformer; Topinka teamed up with Kjellander in June, 2004 to force the Party’s nominee for the U. S. Senate, reformer Jack Ryan, under the bus, and then replaced Ryan with Alan Keyes, in perhaps the most disastrous decision made by the State GOP in its history]

--Sharp Elbows and Sharp Knives at the State GOP; slapping Steve around

In the run-up to yesterday’s vote, it was reported by reliable sources that Steve Rauschenberger got his vote total to become Illinois' RNC guy up to nine, before the sharp knives came out. Fran Eaton, Illinois Review Editor, reported that she was told by the players at yesterday’s Republican State Convention in Decatur, IL that McKenna and State GOP staffers were calling around this week on Pat Brady’s behalf, trying as one committeeman said, to get the winning total to much more than the requisite ten votes to “Slap Steve around.”

Fran Eaton was told by one of the players that the State GOP phone calls included intimidation efforts, such as the threatened loss of government or Party jobs. Reliable sources stated that Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson and Senator Dave Syverson had been promised by Chairman McKenna that the State GOP would keep out of the RNC contest. Shades of McKenna's apparent intervention, on behalf of Topinka, in the 2006 Republican Guv Primary. As Yogi would say, this is deja vu all over again. [Syverson was unavailable, this evening, for comment].

--Why Kjellander and McKenna might have wanted to,"Slap Rauschenberger around."

From a partial transcript of a December, 2006 "Public Affairs," TV show :

Jeff Berkowitz: Let’s talk about the State GOP. The Chairman is Andy McKenna, Jr. Is Andy doing a good job as State GOP Chairman

Sen. Steve Rauschenberger [R-Elgin]: Andy has got his hands full. I think he needs to do better than he did in the last election, but Andy is certainly up to the job. What you need out of the State Party Chair is a senior ambassador, someone who can raise money and someone who the people in the Party can identify with. So, Andy is Okay, but Andy needs to learn not to take advice from the kind of people he listened to in the last election (November, 2006).

Jeff Berkowitz: Who was that?

Sen. Steve Rauschenberger: Well, Bob Kjellander, for one [For our out of town readers, Kjellander, Treasurer for the Republican National Committee, is an Illinois Republican with strong ties to Karl Rove in the White House; Kjellander was said to have emerged recently as a key figure in an ongoing probe of corruption in Illinois; Also, House Minority Leader Tom Cross mailed a letter to various Republicans in yet another apparent effort to push Kjellander out as Illinois’ Republican National Committeeman];
To continue reading about this, go here.

--The long State GOP knives come out for Rauschenberger.

By the time the long knives had done their not so judicious cutting, the final vote was 15 to 4, Brady over Rauschenberger. The only Rauschenberger votes left standing were Senator Chris Lauzen (14th), Dan Venturi (8th), Barry Welbers (11th, Wellers) and Wendy Owano (16th, Manzullo).

--2010 Republican Gov candidates

Rep. Jim Durkin has been giving some thought to running for Governor in 2010 and being solid with the Illinois RNC guy can be helpful for such. Reliable sources state that DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom, another 2010 Guv hopeful, was also a force behind Pat Brady’s victory, as was downstater and lame duck congressman Ray LaHood, who initially sought the position himself. Cong. John Shimkus was said to be one of the last Rauschenberger supporters to succumb to the State GOP pressure to make the switch to Brady.

--Reformer DeMonte takes female RNC spot

The bright side of yesterday for GOP reformers, according to Fran Eaton, was the election of a reform candidate over the establishment favored Carol Donovan for the female Illinois Republican National Committeeman spot. In the first vote, Donovan had nine votes, followed by six for Demetra DeMonte, Tazwell County Republican Chairwoman and four for Kathy Salvi (who came in second in a six person 8th CD Republican Primary in 2006 won by David McSweeney). You need ten votes to win, and in the second vote, all of the Kathy Salvi supporters threw their votes to DeMonte, making her the new Republican National Committeewoman from Illinois. Eaton pegged DeMonte as a reformer.

Neither State GOP Chairman McKenna nor State GOP Communications Director, Mike Zolnierowicz, was available for comment on this story.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at You may watch "Public Affairs," shows with Presidential Candidates Obama, McCain, Giuliani and Cox, this week's show in the suburbs with Comm. Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago), last week's show in the Suburbs with State Rep. Candidate Joan Solms (R-Aurora), next week's show in the suburbs with State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), our prior shows in Chicago and Aurora with 6th CD Democratic candidate, Colonel Jill Morgenthaler (Ret.), with State Rep. Jim Durkin (R- Western Springs) and shows with many other pols at
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page include last Monday night's show in Chicago and Aurora with State Rep. Candidate Joan Solms (R-Aurora), this past week's show in the suburbs with Comm. Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago) on the Obama Presidential campaign, next week's show in the Chicago metro suburbs featuring State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and shows with many other pols