Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Illinois Republicans

Applying the lessons learned from George Ryan's conviction

The Chicago Tribune editorializes:
Given their party's devastating experiences with cronyism and insider politics, you'd think the Illinois Republicans in Congress would be careful about even the appearance of favoritism in choosing new federal prosecutors to enforce our public corruption laws.

But if you do think that, you're wrong. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, with an assist from several of this state's clueless GOP congressmen, has given President Bush the names of three candidates for the vacant U.S. attorney's post in central Illinois. One of the three is Darin LaHood, the son of, that's right, Ray LaHood, the distinguished GOP congressman from Peoria.

What is Hastert thinking? Cronyism is an equal-opportunity source of scandal for both Republicans and Democrats in Illinois. But with a federal judge about to frog-march former Gov. George Ryan to prison after his conviction for public corruption, Republican officials in particular need to avoid any whiff of favoritism for insiders.

That's particularly crucial in selecting federal prosecutors. Senior members of Congress, who get to propose to the White House candidates for the state's three U.S. attorney's jobs, have never wanted to choose aggressive outsiders with the moxie to reform the state's culture of political sleaze.

The recent exception, of course, was former Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. It was Peter Fitzgerald who urged President Bush to appoint New York native Patrick Fitzgerald as U.S. attorney for northern Illinois. Patrick Fitzgerald had no connections to Illinois pols and their pals. The result: an unprecedented, and still expanding, attack on thievery in high offices.
Something Illinois politicians would like to see end as soon as possible so they can resume business as usual.


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