Proving the adage that desperate people in desperate situations say desperate things, the Governor once again showed that he will never let the facts get in the way of him speaking his mind.
Today's target - me. During his press conference today, the Governor was asked about his intentions with respect to the pay-to-play legislation that he never wanted to see but which is now sitting on his desk.
No longer able to hide behind Carol Ronen's or Rebecca Rausch's pantsuits, but not wanting people to pay attention to 800-pound gorilla (aka the U.S. Attorney) that is hovering over him, the Governor had to attack me on his own. Let's break down what he said:
Blagojevich: "(Fritchey) is currently a paid lobbyist for the payday loan industry."
Facts: In 2006, I was retained as counsel by Cash America to apply for a variation to open a pawn shop in the Little Village community in Chicago. The application was heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals, which is comprised of an architect, two lawyers and a minister. After multiple hearings, the application was approved. Records of both the client and the specifics of my engagement were filed with the Chicago Board of Ethics.
Blagojevich: "He gets paid by the payday loan industry and has actually voted on the House floor, on 3 separate occasions, in favor of his paying client."
Facts: I have been working on reforming the payday loan for nearly a decade, having filed one of the first payday loan reform bills in our state's history (with former Rep. Tom Dart), and continue that work to this day, working with colleagues such as Reps. Miller and Hamos, and groups such as Citizen Action. If the Governor isn't aware of the work that I've done on this issue, then he just hasn't been paying attention. Big surprise there.
Facts: In 2005, I was honored to receive the Monsignor John Egan Campaign for Payday Loan Reform Leadership Award for my efforts on behalf of HB1100 (the Payday Loan Reform Act of 2005). At the time, one of the presenters was kind enough to say the following: "Representative Fritchey’s leadership and support was crucial to the passage of House Bill 1100,” stated Lynda DeLaforgue, codirector of Citizen Action/Illinois. “His work to put an end to abusive payday lending practices will greatly impact the working families of Illinois.”
Blagojevich: "That can't possibly be ethical. Whether it's legal or not remains a question."
Facts: Apparently, the Governor wouldn't know ethics if it hit him upside his head with his own hairbrush. What isn't ethical is making a deliberate effort to deceive the public through misleading statements about me in order to try to protect his fundraising juggernaut, which has raised countless millions from individuals and businesses who just 'happened' to wind up with fortunes in state contracts.
And the only legal questions he should be looking at right now involve his own activities.
Facts: Every Senator and every Representative and every major editorial board support cutting the ties between the Governor's fundraising and state contracts through this specific piece of legislation. So try as he may to tarnish me, there are a whole lot of Illinoisans (about 12 million) that want to see this bill signed. As is.
I hope that, in the future, he's more careful about his statements. Especially if they're under oath.