Illinois GOP Central Committee picks “Combine” lobbyist as Chair (Part 3)


2.Dorgan served as a top aide to former Illinois House Speaker Lee Daniels.

Republican politician Lee A. Daniels was Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives from 1995 to 1997, and House Republican Leader from 1983 to 1995 and from 1997 to 2003.

In December 2003, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois announced that former Illinois Governor George Ryan (R) was being indicted “FOR ALLEGED PUBLIC CORRUPTION DURING TERMS AS SECRETARY OF STATE AND GOVERNOR.” Ryan was subsequently convicted, sentenced to 6.5 years in prison, and became the third Illinois Governor in recent history to go to jail. (With Blagojevich’s conviction, the count now stands at four – a tie, with two governors from each branded party.)

“Former Illinois Gov. George H. Ryan, Sr., was indicted today by a federal grand jury on racketeering conspiracy, mail and tax fraud and false statements charges alleging public corruption during his terms as Illinois Secretary of State from 1991 to 1999 and as Governor from 1999 to 2003. Ryan and certain of his associates allegedly engaged in a pattern of corruption that included performing official government acts, awarding lucrative government contracts and leases, and using the resources of the State of Illinois for the personal and financial benefit of Ryan, members of his family, his campaign organization and certain associates.”

In the case of the United States of America vs. Lawrence Warner and George H. Ryan, Sr., the “GOVERNMENT’S EVIDENTIARY PROFFER AS TO CO-CONSPIRATOR AND AGENCY STATEMENTS” contains the following information on pages 102-103 under the heading “1996 House Races,” referring to the Illinois House of Representatives’ election in 1996.

“In the Summer of 1996, George Ryan and then House Speaker Lee Daniels agreed that Ryan would dedicate selected SOS/CFR [Secretary of State/Citizens For Ryan] coordinators to support Daniels in his attempt to keep Republican control of the Illinois House. After Ryan and Daniels had come to an agreement, Fawell [Scott Fawell, a top Ryan campaign aide for the 1990 election who was slated for a high-ranking position in the incoming Ryan Administration, also was an active participant in the Transition Team.] summoned his supervising SOS/CFR coordinators to a meeting at the State of Illinois building to announce the Ryan-Daniels deal and to plan the execution of the 1996 House races. In general terms, Fawell outlined the arrangement that had been struck between Ryan and Daniels and discussed how the supervisors should coordinate the effort. At the meeting, Fawell also indicated that it was likely that the SOS/CFR coordinators who were recruited would be paid for their efforts.

In the wake of the Fawell directive, SOS/CFR coordinators were assigned to the different House races. At a subsequent gathering, Fawell then announced to the recruited coordinators that it was now time to make some money for doing what they had done during the 1994 Ryan campaign as ‘volunteers.’ In furtherance of the Ryan-Daniels’ accord, Fawell also discussed and arranged with Jack Dorgan, Daniels’ principal representative at the House Republican Campaign Committee(‘HRCC’), that Fawell’s SOS/CFR people would be compensated for their efforts. (Highlighting added) Fawell then drafted a document that listed each of the individual SOS/CFR coordinators who were to be assigned to targeted House races, the race they were to be assigned and the amount of money they were to receive. This document was then provided to Roger Stanley, a Fawell associate and HRCC ally, who agreed to make the payments to Fawell’s people from a business account at Stanley’s direct mail company, Unistat. By using Unistat, a private company, as a conduit for the payments, Fawell and his SOS/CFR coordinators avoided identification and disclosure on campaign expenditure disclosure forms (‘D-2s’) relating to the payments made to these full-time SOS Office employees who were working on the 1996 HRCC races.

Of the numerous SOS/CFR coordinators who assisted in the 1996 House races, many were recruited to the effort by Fawell or another supervising SOS/CFR coordinator and performed a significant amount of their campaign work for these races on state time.”

The references to Lee A. Daniels and to his top aide, John “Jack” Dorgan, in the indictment against former Governor George Ryan did not lead to either man being indicted for a crime.

As the introduction to the Warner-Ryan Proffer stated, the U.S. Attorney moved that “the Court admit coconspirator statements based on the existence of a conspiracy or joint venture in which the defendants George H. Ryan, Sr., Lawrence Warner and numerous unindicted co-schemers participated in the manner outlined below.(Highlighting added)

3. Dorgan has long projected a non-ideological profile, with friends across the political spectrum, including the partner with whom he formed a successful lobbying firm.

Dorgan and James McPike founded the prominent Springfield, Illinois lobbying firm Dorgan-McPike & Associates. McPike is a former Democrat Illinois House Majority Leader under long-time Democrat Speaker of the Illinois House Michael Madigan (father of the current IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan).

The firm’s clients have included Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, run by William Cellini until his conviction; Health Professionals Ltd., which in 2006 received $43.9 million in an Illinois prison contract; and Penn National Gaming, Inc., which owned and operated casinos, racetracks and wagering facilities. According to the website Republican News Watch, “Penn National acquired Argosy Gaming Company for $2.2 billion in cash. Argosy’s lobbyists were Dorgan-McPike.  Argosy’s Chairman was William Cellini. That merger made Penn National the third-largest casino operator in the United States.” Fairmont Track is along among the firm’s list of clients.

Dorgan’s partner, McBride, has his own Political Action Committee (PAC) – JJM PAC.  McBride’s PAC has made numerous contributions to Democrat candidates over the years, as noted here.

Republican News Watch (a site run byDoug Ibendahl, a Chicago Attorney and former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party) lists these Democrat candidates as having been financially supported both by JJM PAC and by Dorgan personally: “Rod Blagojevich; Speaker of the House Michael Madigan ; [IL Attorney General]Lisa Madigan; Chicago Democratic Alderman Patrick Levar; former Democratic State Representative Lovana “Lou” Jones; former State Senate President Emil Jones;Democratic State Representative Kevin Joyce; former Democratic State Representative Bob Bugielski;President of Franklin Park Daniel Pritchett; Democratic State Senator Don Harmon; Democratic State Senator James DeLeo; Democratic State Representative Robert Molaro; and Judge Gordon Maag who ran against Republican Judge Lloyd Karmeier for a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court.”

Dorgan’s activities as a lobbyist came under scrutiny by the New York Times (NYT) in a January 2012 article. “Thanks to state and local ethics laws riddled with loopholes, it was legal for Jack Dorgan, a village trustee in Rosemont, to vote last year to award a lucrative contract to a client of his Springfield lobbying firm. Mr. Dorgan is not alone in his dual roles. Elected officials at every level in Illinois — from the village board to the state legislature — can use their positions to benefit paying clients or even family members, according to an examination of thousands of documents by Medill Watchdog, a journalism program at Northwestern University.”

The NYT noted that, “In Rosemont in the past year, Mr. Dorgan, a prominent Republican, played a key role as village trustee in awarding a $2.4 million contract to his lobbying client, Christopher B. Burke Engineering. Records show that Burke Engineering paid Mr. Dorgan at least $1,200 while he was lobbying the Illinois Toll Highway Authority as the authority was working with the village to jointly build a $25 million off-ramp. Burke Engineering had hired Dorgan-McPike & Associates, Mr. Dorgan’s Springfield lobbying firm, to represent it before the tollway and other state agencies, gaining an advocate with both state influence and a vote on the village board.”

In Illinois, it’s legal. The Combine makes the rules.


In Illinois there are not really two political parties. There’s just one – The Combine. There are, of course, individual exceptions – Senator Peter Fitzgerald was one. Bucking The Combine, though, is not a career enhancement move for any politician, regardless of party branding.

After he was elected as the new Chair of the Illinois Republican State Central Committee, John “Jack” Dorgan said he wanted the GOP to be a “big tent” party.

The real big tent is The Combine. And the question that Tea Party organizations face in Illinois is this: Where in Dorgan’s big tent is there room for them?