Corruption and Republicans

Surprisingly, George Ryan (R) ex-govenor of IL was found guilty on ALL 18 charges. Whoa. I guess Steve Earle's love for Mr. Ryan didn't count.

(click to play Steve Earle song excerpt, or failing that, go here)
Steve Earle Ryan Excerpt

Anyway, another Fitzmas:

A federal jury convicted former Gov. George Ryan today on all charges that as secretary of state he steered state business to cronies in return for vacations, gifts and other benefits for himself and his family.

On their eleventh day of deliberations, the six-woman, six-man jury found Ryan, 72, guilty on 18 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, false statements and tax violations. Warner, 67, was convicted on 12 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, extortion, money laundering and evading cash-reporting requirements.

The racketeering conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

..The charges against Ryan largely stemmed from his scandal-scarred tenure as secretary of state. But he was accused as governor of lying to FBI agents, arranging a lucrative make-work lobbying deal for a friend, lobbyist Arthur “Ron” Swanson, and leaking the selection of a state prison site to Swanson, who improperly profited on the tip.

Ryan also diverted state resources and staffers to half a dozen political campaigns, including his 1998 election as governor.

Prosecutors alleged that in 1995 Ryan helped arrange to be paid secretly by former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm's ill-fated presidential campaign, funneled the money through a company operated by a trusted operative and passed on nearly $10,000 to four daughters.

...Among the wide-ranging charges against Ryan, prosecutors alleged as secretary of state he gutted the office's investigative arm in 1995 to stop its agents from looking into shady fundraising practices of his campaign apparatus.

One investigator testified that Dean Bauer, Ryan's handpicked inspector general, refused to let him investigate a 1994 crash outside Milwaukee in which six children of Duane and Janice Willis were killed.

The fiery accident occurred when a heavy piece of metal undercarriage fell from a truck and punctured the gas tank of the Willis van. The truck driver, Ricardo Guzman, had paid a bribe for his commercial driver's license in Illinois and could not understand warnings from other truckers, in English, that the piece was dangling dangerously from his rig.

George Ryan, the former governor of Illinois who drew international notice by emptying his state's death row, was convicted today of all charges brought against him in a sweeping federal corruption case.

After more than five months of sometimes complicated testimony in his federal case, and after five weeks of still more tangled deliberations, a jury convicted Mr. Ryan, a Republican, of granting state business to associates in exchange for cash and presents for himself, his family and his friends.

He faces a sentence of up to 20 years for racketeering, the most serious of the charges brought against him.

Mr. Ryan, who served one term as governor until 2003 and as the secretary of state before that, had been seen as an old-fashioned Illinois politician, more dealmaker, complete with cigar and a cocktail, than ideologue. In its way, then, his case seemed to put this state's brand of politics on trial, asking jurors to do the difficult work of drawing a firm line between what was a crime and what was just another day in Springfield.

“At his core, George Ryan is quintessential Illinois politics: power-oriented, jobs-winning, control kind of politics,” said Kent Redfield, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois in Springfield. “There is an excess here, but this is not a bad person corrupting a good system. He is clearly a product of what is a very broad political culture here.”

At 72, Mr. Ryan, once a pharmacist from Kankakee, an hour south of Chicago, faces as many as much as 20 years in prison.

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney who built the case over eight years, called the verdict gratifying but the widespread corruption that it revealed “disturbing.”

“Mr. Ryan steered contracts worth millions of dollars to friends and took payments and vacations in return,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “When he was a sitting governor, he lied to the F.B.I. about this conduct and then he went out and did it again.”

But Mr. Fitzgerald said the most appalling part of the corruption was Mr. Ryan's reaction upon learning that bribes were being paid for licenses, putting public safety in jeopardy. Instead of ending the practice he tried to end the investigation that had uncovered it, Mr. Fitzgerald said, calling the moment “a low-water mark for public service.”

complete Steve Earle song available at the iTunes store....
Steve Earle

Eric Zorn has been following the story closely. Here's the beginning of his tale re the verdict:

Ryan jury makes fools of those of us with little faith It was humbling and inspiring to sit in on the jurors' news conference on the 25th floor of the Dirksen Federal Building early this afternoon and to hear the seriousness and clarity of the thinking behind their unanimous guilty verdicts against former Gov. George Ryan and his friend Larry Warner.

“It was the evidence,” said Kevin Rein, a self-employed carpenter from Glen Ellyn. “It wasn't a smoking gun.”

Rein said he, “went into the deliberations with the feeliing that something was not on the up and up” with the way Ryan his associates did business, and that he and the other jurors went through the evidence methodically before reaching their decision.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on April 17, 2006 2:55 PM.

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