Illinois GOP Central Committee picks “Combine” lobbyist as Chair (Part 2)


John Kass once wrote of a Chicago saying applicable to the party bosses of The Combine, whatever their party branding: “When they’re in, we’re in. And when they’re out, we’re in.” Cellini was the poster boy for the truth of that saying.

On October 12, 2012, Cellini was sentenced to one year and one day in jail. In the photo he’s leaving the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago with his wife and daughter after being sentenced for his 2011 conviction – found guilty of trying to extort campaign contributions for Blagojevich from the Hollywood producer behind the Clint Eastwood film “Million Dollar Baby.”

Only in The Combine does a Republican mover-n’-shaker extort money for a Democrat Governor.

As of January 22, 2013, the man once known as the “King of Clout” has a cell in the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex in Indiana.

The Illinois Republican Central Committee elects a Combine guy as its Chair

On May 7, 2013, Pat Brady, former GOP candidate for Illinois Comptroller, resigned as Chair of the IRCC. His exit began when he openly supported same-sex marriage. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Brady’s decision [to resign] resurfaces publicly the decades of behind-the-scenes infighting between social moderates who long ruled the GOP and social conservatives who sought more power in directing party activities.”

Back on April 13, 2013, attendees at a meeting of the IRCC erupted when the Central Committee prepared to adjourn to executive session, presumably to discuss Brady. This 5:45 minute video records what happened next. Dorgan speaks briefly at 1:25.

On June 7, 2013, the 19 members of the IRCC selected, with reportedly 59% on the first ballot, John “Jack” Dorgan to be the new IRCC Chair.

Below are highlights of Dorgan’s resume covering thirty years of political experience, including service in the administrations of two Republican Governors (Thompson and Edgar).

1. As a longtime elected official (Trustee) for the Village of Rosemont, Illinois, John “Jack” Dorgan was a close associate of late Rosemont Mayor Donald Stephens, and remains close to his son, Bradley, who succeeded his father as Mayor.

Rosemont is in Cook County, northwest of Chicago. In the 2010 census it lists a population of 4,202. The map below shows it directly adjacent to O’Hare Airport at the intersection of major highways. Its proximity to O’Hare features prominently in the small town’s big coverage in the Chicago media.

A December 2008 article on the Better Government Association website illustrated the publicity that came to Rosemont when a new Illinois gambling license became available.

“The mayor of Rosemont, whose suburb is among three finalists vying to land a casino, is giving back a campaign contribution from an allegedly mob-linked company. Mayor Bradley Stephens’ action follows an inquiry by the Chicago Sun-Times and the Better Government Association. The company — D&P Construction — gave $400 to the Regular Republican Voters League of Leyden Township, headed by Stephens, on Nov. 8, 2007. In 2001, the Illinois Gaming Board linked the company to ‘individuals who have been identified as known members of organized crime.’”

The article noted that, “In 2004, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan documented ties between Bradley Stephens’ father, then-Rosemont Mayor Donald E. Stephens, and allegedly mob-linked individuals.”

In April 2007, Chicago ABC 7 News investigative reporter Chuck Goudie quoted James Wagner, former “head of the FBI’s organized crime squad in Chicago, and then with the Chicago Crime Commission.”

“‘I don’t think it can be disputed there was a connection and it started with Giancana,’ said Wagner. That would be Sam Giancana, omnipotent outfit boss in 1961, when [Donald] Stephens bought a motel from the man they called ‘Momo.’ Stephens claimed he bought it [the hotel] to oust the outfit. ‘I didn’t know Giancana, I had no interest in Giancana,” [Stephens] said in a December 2006 interview with the [Channel 7] I-Team. ‘The position law enforcement had was how and when he paid it off and under what terms. No one ever knew,’ Wagner said.”

In an effort to secure the casino license for Rosemont, then Governor Rod Blagojevich hired Eric Holder’s law firm for $300,000 to do due diligence on the group backing the proposed half-billion dollar gambling facility in Rosemont. The goal for Holder was to issue a White Paper that would white-washed the project’s backers. (The photo of the press conference at the Thompson Center in Chicago where Blagojevich and Holder announced the relationship has been scrubbed from the internet.)

But events got out of hand for the project’s backers, and Rosemont’s bid for a casino license was denied. “‘While Rosemont’s $435 million bid for the 10th casino license is tempting, particularly in these tough times, in our view the inability of the Illinois Gaming Board to address the concerns about alleged mob ties is enough to disqualify their application,’ Chicago Crime Commission president J.R. Davis says in a statement being delivered to the board.”

As an aside, Tony Rezko held a long-term lease on property adjacent to the proposed site for the Rosemont casino. So Tony lost out, too.

Of course, Dorgan’s record of service to the Village of Rosemont and his long and close association with Rosemont Mayors Donald and Bradley Stephens would not necessarily connect him to any alleged mob influence in the city.

Continued in Part 3