Ryan betrayed the people, who have a right to expect honest service from their government. His corruption also left a body count. Nine people, including the six Willis children, were killed in crashes with truck drivers who paid bribes for licenses when Ryan was Illinois secretary of state . . .
But Ryan's jury was not fooled when it convicted him of 18 counts in 2006. The jurors heard the testimony about how, after the Willis children were burned to death in an accident involving a bribe-paying trucker, Ryan squashed the bribery investigation . . .
Like Durbin, Blagojevich invoked the frail health of Ryan's wife, and Ryan's own health problems, and said the Republican governor had already paid "a significant price" and that a commutation by Bush would be a "fine decision."
What will they tell my friends, Scott and Janet Willis, if clout releases an unrepentant Ryan who stepped over their children on the way to the governor's mansion?
Durbin and Blagoyevich, both close political friends of Obama, are a part of the corrupt political combine that runs Illinois government. When Blagoyevich was running for governor, he and Durbin attacked the GOP ad nauseum for their pay-to-play practices and promised to end such practices. That was before U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald nailed dozens of their buddies for the same pay-to-pay crimes and is now inching closer to Blagoyevich, if not Obama as well. Convicted political fixer Tony Rezko is sitting in isolation in a Cook County jail awaiting sentencing and may be cooperating with federal investigators. Both Blagoyevich and Obama appear to have received financial assistance from corrupt pols like Rezko to swing their pricey Chicago homes. The more recent indictment of the powerful William Cellini, a close friend of Durbin's and Blagoyevich's, sent shockwaves throughout Illinois' political establishment.
President Bush is supposed to lead the way for Obama by springing their friend Ryan from the federal prison in Terre Haute. This will no doubt be one of several steps in a string of actions intended to decapitate Fitzgerald's ongoing efforts to clean up Illinois government. Obama made the first move in announcing Eric Holder, the recipient of a lucrative, but questionable legal contract from Blagoyevich, as his choice for Attorney General. Holder is accused of bypassing the typical pardon review process in the Clinton administration to pave the way for a pardon of the biggest tax cheat in American history, Marc Rich. You can bet there will be pardons waiting for others as well who might be willing to cooperate with Fitzgerald's investigation in an Obama administration.
As for Fitzgerald, he was busy today announcing the indictment of 15 Chicago area law enforcement officers on drug conspiracy charges. As for the Illinois Republican Party, which was left in shambles as a result of Ryan's corruption, it has apparently learned its lesson. State GOP Chairman Andy McKenna is having no part of the Ryan pardon talk. Here's his statement:
“This issue is not one of party, but of bringing real change to Illinois by the way we conduct business.
“My heart goes out to Mrs. Ryan and her family during this difficult time, however, Governor Ryan was convicted in federal court by a jury of his peers and all of his appeals, including one to the U.S. Supreme Court, were denied.
“A commutation of Governor Ryan’s sentence sends the wrong message to not only those who betray the public trust but also to the honest, hardworking men and women of Illinois who expect public corruption will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
“Senator Durbin and Governor Blagojevich’s line of thinking only contributes to the difficult task of bringing change to Illinois.”
If this is the kind of change Democrats brought to Illinois after George Ryan's tenure, just what kind of change can the American people expect from fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama?