Tuesday, August 1, 2006

No more freebies, Rod

Reporters didn't stay up very late last night and largely missed or underplayed a bombshell -- the Rod Blagojevich campaign's disclosure of $687,839 in legal fees to Winston & Strawn.

Don't know what to make of it, but the Blagojevich campaign at first listed fees of $839,656 and then within an hour amended the report to list the lower figure.

And they listed most of it as a campaign debt and then said in the paper this morning that it was disputing the fees. One theory I've heard that makes sense is that the Blago people hoped to delay disclosure of the fees until after the election but somebody advised them that the feds are watching closely and they better follow the law.

After all, legal bills from Winston were minimal in 2005 even though the feds interviewed Rod in February 2005. Looks to me like the bills already were sent through mighty slowly.

The amount of fees incurred blows away the facade Blagojevich's spokespeople have tried to create about the seriousness of the nine state and federal investigations. Any organization that is incurring legal bills at a rate of $1.5 million a year is facing trouble. And remember that it is highly likely that the fees are understated as much as possible. And that the investigations have a long way to go, portending millions more in fees.

Is this who we want as our governor for another four years?

Then there is the question of government legal fees. The Blagojevich administration has never come clean on the hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions that taxpayers are being billed to fight back these allegations.

Of course the irony here is that Winston & Strawn, led by Jim Thompson, is the law firm that represented George Ryan for free in his long corruption trial and conviction.

Big Jim's firm may have lost a lot of money representing George, but it has a new client that might make up for it defending against the largest onslaught of corruption investigations a governor's office has ever seen in Illinois. If I were Big Jim, though, I'd collect as quickly as possible before TV ads drain the fund or the feds freeze it.

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