Skip to main content

My patience has worn thin listening to Rodney Davis complain about campaign ads on his ties to convicted former Governor George Ryan. Davis claims the ads by DCCC are misleading, but Davis has never denied the basic facts: that Davis worked for George Ryan and was on Ryan's clout list. If you look at the bigger picture, Davis' denials smell funnier than the original ads.

Davis says the ads are false because they call George Ryan "Governor," while Davis worked for Ryan only while he was Secretary of State. That's irrelevant nitpicking, especially since Ryan was convicted for what he did as Secretary of State. Davis further refutes the ad by saying he was a low-level, anonymous employee who never took favors from George Ryan. He doubts that Ryan even remembered his name or knew who he was.

As I wrote before, Davis was granted a leave of absence from his job with the Secretary of State's office to run for State Representative in 1996. That's a pretty big favor not available to people in most normal jobs.

I decided to do a little fact checking with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Davis donated $200 to the Ryan campaign fund in December of '96, shortly after losing his campaign for State Representative. There was no reporting requirement for smaller donations at that time, so there may have been additional unrecorded contributions, such as low-dollar tickets to fundraisers.

I tried to confirm that the donation isn't from a relative in Taylorville with the same name but the Davis campaign isn't very responsive to me right now. Regardless, I found something much more interesting.

Campaign finance reports from the time period Davis ran for State Representative aren't online, so I went to the state election office in Springfield to pick up a copy. I scanned some of the results and uploaded them here. As I looked through the documents, I googled the names of large Davis contributors from outside Taylorville. In most instances, I found that those individuals were working for George Ryan.
Davis raised thousands in campaign contributions from management staff in Ryan's Secretary of State office.

The most generous donor was Craig Roberts, who was serving as a high ranking aid to George Ryan and would later become Chief of Staff to Congressman John Shimkus.  Over the campaign, he gave a series of donations and in-kind contributions totaling over $4,700.00. That's pretty generous for someone taking a public salary.

Others include April Cook, who contributed a series of donations and in-kind contributions coming to $579.63. She worked in the Secretary of State human resources division. Jane Vredenburgh, an executive assistant to the Secretary of State, made multiple donations adding up to $650.00, and in later years would be a major Shimkus donor as well. Deb Detmers was manager of the Indexing Department where Davis worked, finance director of the Ryan campaign fund, and later moved to the Shimkus staff. She helped Davis too, making in-kind contributions.

Judging by the items donated, it appears that management staff were helping Davis host fundraising events. One wonders how many other Secretary of State employees made smaller, unreported donations at Davis campaign events hosted by their coworkers and bosses.

All of this by itself isn't necessarily anything sinister. It's not unusual to raise political funds from co-workers. Davis and his donors may even have left Ryan's office to work for Shimkus because they were bothered by corruption in the office. But, if that's the case, then why not say so? Why the amnesia routine?

What makes it significance is the context of what was happening in the Secretary of State office under George Ryan. Employees were expected to buy campaign fundraising tickets and do political work, sometimes on state time. As one article put it: "In offices all over the state, employees came to believe that their careers, evaluations, promotions, and pay increases all depended on their ability to raise campaign contributions for their political patron, then-Secretary of State George Ryan."

Davis donated to the Ryan campaign fund at a time when employees were pressured into doing so. In fact, the supervisor of his department, Deb Detmers, testified in court that she was pressured to meet quotas for selling fundraising tickets to employees she supervised.

Let me restate that. The supervisor of Davis' division pressured her employees into buying fundraising tickets for the Ryan campaign fund, and she also gave significant support to the Davis campaign. Davis must have had some kind of super anti-corruption Cryptonite suit to remain untouched by everything going on around him.

Davis was a Republican precinct committeeman, active in campaigns, and a candidate for office when employees were expected to participate in the Ryan political machine, sometimes on state taxpayer time. Managers in that same political machine were helping the Davis campaign. As the DCCC ads say, that would put Davis "in the middle of it."

Based on his own statements, and documented evidence, we know that, while working for the Secretary of State, Davis:
  • Was granted a leave of absence to run for state elected office.
  • Served as a Republican precinct committeeman. 
  • Donated to Ryan's campaign fund.
  • Was on the clout list so Ryan would remember his name.
  • Saw George Ryan at multiple political functions outside the office.
  • Had Ryan managers as major campaign donors.
  • Had a supervisor who pressured employees to donate to Ryan's campaign.

An anonymous, low-level employee is someone who people appreciate for pitching in a few bucks toward office Birthday parties, not someone who raises thousands of dollars from management.

Can anyone really believe that the head of a political machine like George Ryan's was unaware that one of his employees was running for an elected position that would vote on his office's budget, and in the process, raised thousands from his management staff? It's simply absurd.

Several news outlets in the district have engaged in the "both sides are doing it" cliche in regard to misleading campaign ads. The ads attacking David Gill are dishonest because they grossly mischaracterize his position on Medicare. The ads tying Davis to George Ryan are called misleading because...well...they just are because Davis said so.

The reality is that Davis has a case of selective amnesia regarding his time working for Ryan. The ads about George Ryan and Rodney Davis are not only accurate; they merely scratch the surface.

Originally posted to Willinois on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 06:11 PM PST.

Also republished by Land of Lincoln Kos and Madison County, Illinois Kossacks.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site