Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gov. Quinn, Canary and Ranney support legislation handing more power to Madigan and Cullerton. Patrick Collins joins Chicago Tribune in dissent.

Patrick Collins[Chairman, Illinois Reform Commission and lead prosecutor in the George Ryan Trial]: And, I also would argue that if you put campaign limits in place with everybody and then [as to] the powerful people before the limits [the four legislative leaders], you don’t restrict them, you’ve actually increased their power.

Jeff Berkowitz: You made it worse.

Patrick Collins: You have
This reporter asked Governor Quinn yesterday what he would say to Patrick Collins, the lead prosecutor who worked with a team of lawyers to put former Governor George Ryan behind bars, in 2006, for public corruption. The Governor appointed Collins earlier this year to head Quinn’s Illinois Reform Commission. Collins ended up not supporting the legislation that Quinn signed yesterday morning.

Collins, now a partner in private practice at Perkins Coie, agrees with the Chicago Tribune that the legislation-- by capping campaign contributions of individuals, unions, companies and PACs, but not of the four legislative leaders—essentially made things worse, enhancing the power of the legislative leaders [See, below]. This reporter would go further and argue that most of the enhanced power falls on Speaker Mike Madigan and on Senate President John Cullerton [Watch Cullerton discuss an income tax increase in June, 2008- about 14:00 into the show], who in large part already run Springfield, if not most of Illinois. This is reform?

Yes, said Quinn, quoting from the late, U. S. Senator Paul Simon who said “We work with our fellow human beings to try to come up with important reforms that move the ball forward.” Quinn said he would continue to work to put caps on the campaign contribution of the leaders.

But Gov. Quinn, for all his years in politics, seems not to understand the basics. You don’t give Madigan and Cullerton more power today and then assume you can somehow take it away tomorrow. If Quinn, Cindi Canary [ICPR], George Ranney [Change Illinois], Democratic Senators Harmon, Steans and Garrett and any other goo goos had the stomach for a real fight to reform and change Illinois, they would have joined Patrick Collins and stood their ground. But Quinn was having none of this. In further response to this reporter’s question, Quinn said:

I don’t think it is really productive to be naysaying today. Today is a day in history, special history in Illinois where we the people came together, using the power of our democratic process, you know the idea of democracy, and we made a significant change that will make our state better and so that’s a better way to look at today.

When asked by ABC-7 News' Charles Thomas about the absence, yesterday, of the two most powerful Democrats and politicians in the State of Illinois, Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President Cullerton, Gov. Quinn declined to “read anything into their absence,” just noting that “they’re busy guys.”

Yeah, I’ll bet they’re busy—dividing up the spoils of yesterday’s victory handed to them by Quinn, Canary, Ranney, et al. But, let’s not be doing any naysaying today.

All right, Governor. No naysaying, not today. But, tomorrow, unfortunately, Quinn has to deal with what he signed yesterday. By then, there may be numerous, nattering nabobs of naysaying negativism. And, then what will Pat Quinn say?

Patrick Collins: …How do we get folks to run with a sense of independence? Not that they can’t be a partisan Democrat or partisan Republican, but that they will not follow along like sheep and…

Jeff Berkowitz: Well, I don’t know because you had a lot of independents involved in the Illinois Reform Commission-

Patrick Collins: We did.

Pat Collins says no to the Campaign Finance Reform Legislation signed into law.

Jeff Berkowitz: You were working with Cindy Canary. You were working with Change Illinois. They ended up supporting that legislation that passed. You didn’t, right? [The Campaign Finance Reform Legislation that passed the legislature at the end of October was signed into law by the Governor yesterday morning, in the presence of many Democratic legislators, along with Cindy Canary [ICPR], George Ranney [Change Illinois], Andy Shaw [BGA] and others from Change Illinois and other organizations, generally viewed on the left.]

Patrick Collins: I personally don’t support that legislation.

Jeff Berkowitz: You don’t support that.

Patrick Collins: No, I don’t.

The defect in the legislation.

Jeff Berkowitz: Because they didn’t have limits on the [campaign contributions by] the Legislative Leaders, right?

Patrick Collins: Because I think the- just to pull out the—

Jeff Berkowitz: That slush fund that we talked about at the beginning of the show, that $25 million dollar slush fund

Patrick Collins: Right-

Jeff Berkowitz: It still exists. Cindy Canary said essentially, “I don’t care—we got something.”

Patrick Collins: And, I got a lot of—

Jeff Berkowitz: Change Illinois said, I don’t care, we got something.

Patrick Collins: And, I have a lot of-

Patrick Collins says no to the legislative leaders.

Jeff Berkowitz: Pat Collins said no, right?

Patrick Collins: I was never asked officially, but-

Jeff Berkowitz: I am asking you now. You didn’t support that, right?

Patrick Collins: No.

Jeff Berkowitz: You don’t support it.

Patrick Collins: I did not
. I do not.

Jeff Berkowitz: Okay.

Increasing the power of the legislative leaders.

Patrick Collins: And, I also would argue that if you put campaign limits in place with everybody and then [as to] the powerful people before the limits [the legislative leaders], you don’t restrict them, you’ve actually increased their power.

Jeff Berkowitz: You made it worse.

Patrick Collins: You have.

Jeff Berkowitz: That’s what the Chicago Tribune said. They don’t even support these [campaign contribution] limits. They buy the argument that I was making

Patrick Collins: Right.

Jeff Berkowitz: but on this, they said, if you are going to do limits on individuals, companies, unions, political action committees, but you’re not going to limit Mike Madigan, the Tribune said [essentially], that’s dumb. And, that’s what you are saying.

Patrick Collins: They write with a point and I would agree with that logic.
From Public Affairs, taped on December 6, 2009 [For more about the show with Patrick Collins and another partial transcript of that show, please go here]
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