Partisan Democrat

Monday, August 28, 2006

Rutherford Coordinator More of the Same

I came across this story in the Naperville Sun this morning [hat tip Capitol Fax morning shorts] on the Rutherford campaign's new DuPage county coordinators (note: quickly scroll past the part where Topinka talks about who she wants to make out with if you are eating or just ate):

Liz Martinez and Patrick Durante will cover nine townships in DuPage County as coordinators for Rutherford's campaign.

"I can't think of better people to organize and represent my campaign in DuPage County," Rutherford said in a statement.

And who is Patrick Durante:

Durante has chaired the Addison Township Republican organization for 33 years and has been U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde's executive assistant for 32 years.

I thought I remembered him being involved with something bad when they were trying to come up with a replacement for Pate Philip. It turns out he wasn't involved with any controversy then, at least not to my knowledge, he was only quoted as saying that the replacement should come from his part of the district. But aside from that issue, here is the first thing that came up on a google search of him in an article that was mostly about Henry Hyde:

Hyde may use sneaky parlimentary tricks to pass his ultra- conservative legislation, but such actions aren't illegal, or even considered particularly unethical. But in Hyde's past are incidents that deserve close scrutiny by investigators. Start with the funny documents found in a dumpster in 1995.

Looking for evidence of a conspiracy against him, a formal mental hospital patient searched through the trash of a Chicago suburb lawyer. His lawsuit against the attorney was quickly dismissed as baseless, but not before certain documents he had found became part of the public record.

In those documents -- which became a page one story for the Chicago Tribune on March 28, 1995 -- it was detailed how two men named Patrick Durante and James Schirott were privately made an astonishing offer from a Nevada gambling company, Primadonna Resorts. If they would only help the casino obtain an Illinois riverboat gaming license, they would be each be paid $10 million.

Both men were well-connected in the world of Illinois politics. Schirott -- one of the lawyers being sued by the dumpster diver -- was the personal attorney for both Henry Hyde and "Pate" Philip, President of the Illinois state senate. Durante was a pal of the speaker of the Illinois House. Another important detail about Durante: he was also an aide to Henry Hyde, who regularly served as liason between Hyde and Philip.

When the story came out, Hyde and other politicians expressed astonishment and scrambled to distance themselves from a potential runaway scandal. Hyde told the Chicago Sun-Times that publicity about the $ 20 million deal will "bury" any casino bid by Primadonna Resorts. State senate president Phillip insisted that neither man had approached him about a riverboat license.

Other incriminating evidence emerged. Durante allegedly misrepresented himself to a House ethics office in 1993, when he said he would be doing some consulting for a gambling outfit, "[but the] amount of time I will be putting into this venture is at best minimal." Other well-connected locals had been hired by the casino to serve as consultants or lobbyists. And Primadonna also came forward and admitted that it had illegally laundered $9 thousand in campaign contributions through Schirott and Durante, a clear violation of Illinois law.

Since the last republican Secretary of State is now awaiting sentencing for using the power of his office to manipulate contracts into big windfalls for he and his friends as well as crooked fundraising deals, this seems to be exactly the type of new hire you would expect from Rutherford. Maybe Durante can help Topinka with her casino plan too.

Note: Dan Rutherford is the republican candidate for Secretary of State running against Jesse White, with the election to be held this November, you may be entirely unaware of this as most Illinoisans are. A complete list of republicans allegedly running this fall can be found here.


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