Monday, June 02, 2008

Shameless

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.

23 Comments:

At June 2, 2008 at 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn! Right between the eyes. You're my hero. Congratulations on the bill.

 
At June 2, 2008 at 8:19 PM, Anonymous Gepetto said...

"Apparently, the Governor wouldn't know ethics if it hit him upside his head with his own hairbrush."

Best line of the entire session.

 
At June 2, 2008 at 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you ASSUME that people wouldn't want to see broader coverage in this legislation, that is, why not include legislators as well??????

 
At June 2, 2008 at 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Rodnocchio', Representative?

We need statesmanship, sir. Not gamesmanship.

 
At June 2, 2008 at 8:58 PM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Anon 8:43,

There are a number of other reforms that should be, and will be, addressed affecting legislators, lobbyists, and others.

This bill is a comprehensive measure focused on a specific issue - namely, cutting any ties, real or perceived, between campaign contributions and state contracts.

What adds insult to injury is that the Governor has had his entire tenure during which to put forth and try to pass any type of reform proposals that he wanted. He did nothing.

To try to do it through an AV of this bill is an insult to the intelligence of the people he represents.

 
At June 2, 2008 at 9:06 PM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Anon 8:53,

You're entirely correct. I let my self sink to his level in the discourse and I shouldn't have done so. I have revised the post.

 
At June 2, 2008 at 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are a number of other reforms that should be, and will be, addressed affecting legislators, lobbyists, and others."

Thank you for the clarification.

Kepp fighting the good fight.

 
At June 2, 2008 at 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cmon John,

What about your lobbying clients and you ties to the zoning board? lets pass some legislation on that.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 1:05 AM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Anon 11:42,

Did you even bother to read my post? Again, the Zoning Board of Appeals is made up of lawyers, an architect, and a reverend, none of whom I have any 'ties' to whatsoever. And the disclosures required by the City of Chicago far outweigh those imposed on state lobbyists.

If anything, I sincerely believe that my role as a public official results in my work receiving more scrutiny, not less. And because I am confident in how I conduct my practice, I fully accept and welcome that additional scrutiny.

The fact remains that not only is the Governor's statement an irrelevant issue, and a complete non-issue, it is not even a factually supported issue. But you already knew that, didn't you?

There is simply nothing that he can say or do that would in any way justify rewriting HB824 as opposed to putting any ideas that he may have into separate legislation.

Every other constitutional officer manages just fine without having to line their campaign accounts with contributions from vendors. The Governor should be able to as well.

It really is that simple.

I'm going to bed, I'm exhausted.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 9:54 AM, Blogger Rob said...

Representative,

How about a blog insider scoop? With Pay-to-Play taken care of, what is next on the ethics agenda? Unions and Political Parties? Spending limits? Transfer limits? THE PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW!!!

Keep up the good work sir. And thanks for keeping the blog updated.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Records of both the client and the specifics of my engagement were filed with the Chicago Board of Ethics."

" ... the disclosures required by the City of Chicago far outweigh those imposed on state lobbyists."

" ... I am confident in how I conduct my practice, I fully accept and welcome that additional scrutiny."

Since you welcome additional scrutiny, will you post your disclosoures on your website?

Or must your constituents FOIA your disclosures?

 
At June 3, 2008 at 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have been working on reforming the payday loan [industry] for nearly a decade... "

So WHY? WHY take them on as a lobbying client? You are a very talented young man, you don't need to accept every client.

And further, WHY even work as a lobbyist at all? There are so many branches of the law you could be successful in. Aren't you asking for trouble when sometimes you pursue issues for your constituents and sometimes you pursue issues for paying clients?

Why risk confusing your constituents? Isn't it easy to avoid the appearance of impropriety?

 
At June 3, 2008 at 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Today's target - me."

You accepted your lobbying clients.

You knew you had to disclose them.

Certainly you can't claim you're SURPRISED by the Governor's comments, can you?

 
At June 3, 2008 at 10:39 AM, Blogger OneMan said...

'Rodnocchio'...

It's no 'Governor Gonad' or 'Governor Enzite' bit I think I will borrow it all the same.

Sometimes I really think he thinks this bs is the truth, that's what worries me.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 10:39 AM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Anon 10:19,

The disclosures are listed on the city's Department of Ethics website.

No FOIA necessary.

Which stands in contrast with the Governor's office which doesn't even comply with properly submitted FOIA requests.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 10:48 AM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Anon 10:26,

I represented a company locating a PAWN SHOP in Chicago. I have had ZERO discussions with that company EVER regarding payday laws or ANY issues pending at the state level.

Plain and simple, it had nothing to do with the land use matter they retained me for. I wasn't working with their higher ups, or their policy people, I was working with their real estate people.

And no matter what type of law I practice, somebody could try to spin it anyway if they wanted to.

Case in point, a number of years ago, I worked for a large (150+) law firm. Unknown to me at the time, one of the clients of the firm was a gun manufacturer. I had no involvement with the client, and knew nothing that the firm was doing for them.

Sure enough, somebody tried to say that I was a lawyer representing gun companies and that I therefor didn't care about gun violence.

It's a sad part of politics that these types of attacks come with the territory, but all you can do is be mindful of what you do and tell the truth about it.

I have, the Governor hasn't.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 10:58 AM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Anon 10:29,

You are correct on all fronts:

Although I have declined to represent numerous clients over the years because of real or perceived conflicts, I did accept this legal client because no such conflict existed at any level.

I did disclose the client.

I am NOT surprised that the Governor would show such reckless disregard for the truth in order to protect his hide.

I am glad that we are in agreement on this issue.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 11:01 AM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Everybody,

While I actually enjoy the discourse, (why else have the blog otherwise?), I also have a lot of things to catch up on now that I'm home.

Feel free to post comments, I'll try to get to them later on today/tonight.

For those of you that want to take issue with me, I will actually be more liberal about posting those comments if you put a verifiable name with them. I'm willing to put my name on what I post here, you should be too.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a paid lobbyist working on behalf of the payday loan companies. While I do not agree with most of what Rep. Fritchey wants to do to the industry, he has always been involved on behalf of consumers. The governor is a goof. GIve them hell John.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even the people questioning Rep. Fritchey here can't stay on point. The specific issue is that the Governor looks to have made a deliberate (although shameless was a good word choice Fritchey) attempt to mislead the entire public to take attention off of the real issue - his fundraising.

You can bet that no matter who the Chief Sponsor was, Rod would have come up with some excuse about why the bill wasn't right.

But this is like watching a psych evaluation gone horribly wrong. The Governor has no grasp of the truth or reality and it is made worse by the fact that he doesn't realize that the public sees right through him.

When his day of judicial reckoning comes, it's going to be like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am certainly NOT trying to defend the Guv here (wince), but I am curious about your take on the legislature passing a budget that is not balanced. Is it not required by the IL Constitution? Sorry to go off subject.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This so-called governor is so narcissistic that he thinks his every word is a pearl, whether it makes sense or not. I can't believe he got into law school, even a third tier likek Pepperdine.
Much of what he says make no sense but he thinks his used-car salesman smile and Cro-Magnon hairdo will carry him far. I hope it carries him right to the Big House.

 
At June 3, 2008 at 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Fritchey, even though you are not my Rep, keep up the good work.

As was seen with the interview with Carol ronan, and the Gov's latest comments, some folks will go to no end to try to hide their misdeeds by trying to spotlight or (in your case) make up misdeeds on others. I hope your bill passes, and keep up the good work and God Bless...

IDOT GUY - PEKIN

 

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