On June 1, 2013, the Illinois State Republican Central Committee (IRCC) elected John “Jack” Dorgan as its Chair and showed how “The Combine” works.
In Illinois, there’s only one political party. It’s The Combine – the collaborative combination of Democrat and Republican politicians and party officials who work together to harvest the taxpayers’ money.
The Tea Party organizations in Illinois are up against The Combine. Understanding what that means requires understanding what The Combine is, and how it operates.
About fifteen years ago, a descriptive label was coined to apply to the Illinois political environment by Chicago Tribune writer, John Kass. He called it “The Combine.”
Former Illinois U.S. Senator (1999-2005) Peter Fitzgerald was the last Senator or Governor to challenge The Combine. It cost him his political career.
In a 2008 Tribune article entitled “InCombine, cash is king, corruption is bipartisan,” Kass recounted an exchange with Fitzgerald three years after Fitzgerald declined to run for a second Senate term.
“[I] called former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, the Republican maverick from Illinois who tried to fight political corruption and paid for it. For this sin, he was driven out of Illinois politics by political bosses, by their spinners and media mouthpieces, who ridiculed him mercilessly. ‘Senator, what do you call that connection that Stuart Levine [a Republican fund-raiser found guilty of participating in Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s kick-back scheme] describes from the witness stand, you know that arrangement across party lines, with politically powerful men leveraging government to make money — what do you call it?’”
Here was Fitzgerald’s response: “‘What do you call that Illinois political class that’s not committed to any party, they simply want to make money off the taxpayers?’ Fitzgerald said. ‘You know what to call them. The Illinois Combine,’ Fitzgerald said. ‘The bipartisan Illinois political combine. And all these guys being mentioned [in the Blagojevich case], they’re part of it. In the final analysis, The Combine’s allegiance is not to a party, but to their pocketbooks. They’re about making money off the taxpayers,’ Fitzgerald said.”
Kass closed his article writing, “He [Fitzgerald] should know. He fought The Combine and lost, and the empty suits running the Republican Party encourage their friendly scribes to blame the social conservatives for the disaster of the state GOP.”
That was written in 2008. Nothing has changed since.
Fitzgerald lost out to the Illinois Combine Republicans – who included Illinois Congressman and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, but that’s another story. For now, here are two examples of what Illinois Combine Republicans look like.
Republican Combine Guy #1: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood
Nothing has changed since February 2010 when I wrote the following for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism.
“Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood represents the Illinois Combine in Obama’s Cabinet. His history in Illinois politics is that of a Republican chameleon.”
“The MSM loves LaHood because he’s a Bob Michel Republican. LaHood was an aide to Michel, former House Republican Minority Leader, and was elected to his seat after Michel retired. Bob went along to get along. Ray followed suit.”
“LaHood has long been an Illinois Combine Republican… [F]itzgerald beat Democrat incumbent Senator Carol Moseley Braun. Braun and Obama both worked at Allison Davis’s Chicago law firm that provided services to slum landlords, like Tony Rezko. Fitzgerald bucked the Combine on a couple of big-ticket federally-funded Illinois projects, one involving a $13 billion expansion of O’Hare Airport.”
“As far back as 2002, LaHood was working to oust his fellow Republican from the U.S. Senate. In late 2002, Rep. LaHood told the Chicago Sun-Times: ‘I’m thinking about trying to make sure Peter has an opponent in the 2004 Republican primary. I think we can do better than him.’ Soon thereafter, Illinois Republican leaders made it clear Fitzgerald would have trouble raising money for reelection and would have to spend several million from his personal fortune. Sen. Fitzgerald decided to retire and return to banking.”
“In 2004, State Senator Barack Obama was running against Republican Jack Ryan for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Fitzgerald when Ryan’s campaign mysteriously blew up. A California court opened his previously sealed divorce records wherein Ryan’s ex-wife, Jeri, alleged strange sexual tastes on Ryan’s part.”
“CNN reported LaHood’s reaction to Ryan’s situation: ‘…the Illinois congressional delegation had been largely silent about Ryan, leaving him to fend for himself. One Republican, Rep. Ray LaHood, had even called for Ryan to withdraw from the race.’”
“As the Ryan controversy built, the Chicago Tribune reported: The political impact of the revelations on Jack Ryan’s candidacy will play out over the next several days. One prominent Illinois Republican, U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood of Peoria, said he was ‘shocked’ that Ryan would run for public office carrying such baggage and called on him to get out of the race.”
Ryan withdrew from the race. Barack Obama easily beat his cannon fodder replacement, Alan Keyes.
On January 29, 2010, when President Obama spoke before GOP House members at the Renaissance Baltimore Harbor Place Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland, Obama and LaHood struck a pose with LaHood pretending to be blocking for Obama in the presence of the Republicans.
Nothing new in that relationship.
Republican Combine Guy #2: William F. Cellini, “King of Clout”
For many years, William Cellini was a prominent Illinois Republican and Executive Director of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association. (Remember that organization.)
What’s changed since February 2010, when I wrote the following for Breitbart’s Big Journalism, is that Cellini is now in a federal prison, and, he is no longer an executive director.
“William F. Cellini, long-time GOP state power-broker seconded Gerald Ford’s nomination for President at the 1976 Republican National Convention. For four decades, regardless of which party ran the Illinois state government, Cellini did well, while attracting little attention.”
“That relative obscurity ended in October 2008 when Cellini was indicted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office for conspiracy and extortion. The indictment, read here, describes how pay-to-play works in Illinois politics. Here’s an excerpt from Count 2 (of 4) in the indictment:
“As part of the conspiracy, CELLINI, [Stuart] Levine, [‘Tony’] Rezko, and Co-Conspirator A [identified by the Chicago Tribune as former Gov. Rod Blagojevich Chief of Staff Alonzo “Lon” Monk who is cooperating with the Feds] agreed that they would use their influence and Levine’s position [as a Trustee] at TRS [Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois with $30 billion in assets] to prevent [John] Rosenberg’s firm, Capri Capital, from receiving a planned $220 million allocation of TRS funds unless Rosenberg and Capri Capital agreed to raise or donate a substantial about of funds for the benefit of Public Official A [Blagojevich].
When Rosenberg threatened to expose the plan, CELLINI, Levine, Rezko, and Co-Conspirator A [Monk] acted together to prevent Rosenberg from telling law enforcement about the extortion plan. As a result of Rosenberg’s threat, CELLINI, Levine, Rezko, and Co-Conspirator A agreed that Capri Capital would receive the $220 million allocation, but that Capri Capital and Rosenberg would receive no further funds from the State of Illinois. (pp. 14-15)”
Continued in Part 2.