Isn't that what we were trying to prevent -- a repeat of Dean Bauer, George Ryan's investigation stuffing IG?
Well, what we found out Friday was the IG had no problem allowing itself to be used for political purposes. For the first time ever, the Governor's office announced an IG office recommendation and referral to a federal law enforcement agency. The announcement was hastily made to take the steam out of a Chicago Sun-Times expose.
And, the circumstances surrounding the IG's investigation of Central Management Services' hiring scandal at least raises the specter that the IG was trying to shield the administration more than it truly wanted to uncover corruption.
Of course, we can't prove anything because the IG operates in almost complete secrecy. We do know that the first IG under Rod left mysteriously and the current IG, James Wright, was brought over from the Illinois Tollway, where he served as IG there. Did he help clean up corruption at the clout-happy agency. You decide after reading the following list of highlights:
CRONY GETS BIG CONTRACTSo if the Inspector Generals aren't cleaning up anything, what are they good for? Political cover? Isn't that what George Ryan used Dean Bauer for?
On its big $700 million borrowing in 2005, the tollway gave a no-bid contract to Lehman Brothers to manage the deal. According to the March 23, 2005, Chicago Tribune, Lehman paid Blagojevich's former congressional chief of staff John Wyma as a consultant on the transaction as part of the $400,000 it has paid Wyma since Rod became governor.
LINK BETWEEN CONTRIBUTIONS AND CONTRACTS SHOWN
The Daily Herald reported May 1, 2005, that more than 80 percent of the construction and engineering firms with tollway contracts are donors to Blagojevich's campaign fund. Those companies contributed a combined $1.3 million to the governor's campaign and hold tollway contracts worth $548 million.
REZKO, KELLY LINKED TO BIG CONTRACTS
The Tribune reported on Feb. 13, 2005, that despite his pledge to purge the tollway of cronyism, Rod Blagojevich's two top fundraisers, Chris Kelly and Tony Rezko, have links two lucrative no-bid food contracts at tollway oases. In addition, Tribune reports that the general contractor on the oases redesigns gave Rod's campaign $50,000 just before the administration moved forward on his contract.
FELON TIED TO LUCRATIVE CONTRACT
Channel 7 in Chicago did a three-part series in February 2005 that revealed that one of the no-bid tollway oases food contracts went to NY pizza chain Famous Famiglia, the official pizza of the NY Yankees. The venture is connected to Eddie DeBartolo Jr., a convicted felon who once tried to bribe the governor of Louisiana.
CIVIL INVESTIGATION STARTED
DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett, whose office previously prosecuted the biggest corruption case ever at the tollway, opened a civil investigation into the legality of the tollway oases contracts in wake of the media reports. Tollway headquarters are located in DuPage County.
FEDERAL INVESTIGATION STARTED
The Daily Herald and other media outlets reported on Dec. 5, 2005, that the U.S. Attorneys office in Chicago had issued grand jury subpoenas to the tollway for records relating to the tollway oases contracts, including those involving firms tied to Kelly, Rezko and DeBartolo.
DUBIOUS CONTRACT TO CRONY BALLOONS
The Sun-Times reported on Feb. 26, 2006, that a company whose owners donated $76,000 to Blagojevich's campaign fund has seen a contract to deliver I-Pass transponders balloon to $7 million from the original $150,000. IGOR was not the low bidder and its massive contract amendments were given without competitive bidding. IGOR also hired Wyma as a lobbyist.
TOLLWAY SWITCHES TO BRICKS AFTER CONTRIBUTION
The Daily Herald reported in February 2006 that the tollway decided to switch from concrete to brick sound barriers after the local bricklayers union donated $20,000 to Blagojevich's campaign. The bricks cost at least $19 million more than concrete.