Election Tampering: Why Congress Should Investigate Chicago Politics
At the Robert Sorich trial, former Chicago Deputy Water Department Commissioner Donald Tomczak testified that members of his political organization were given city jobs, promotions and overtime pay to campaign for candidates who ran for aldermen, mayor, state senator, governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and president of the United States. Tomczak said he had more of his workers campaigning when there were elections for mayor and president during the 14 years his group rigged elections. Mayor Daley said Tomczak’s political sponsor was Dan Rostenkowski, the former U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman who served time in prison for mail fraud related to his duties as a congressman.
According to federal court testimony, Tomczak’s political group unduly influenced Rahm Emanuel’s election to congress. Rostenkowski and Emanuel were U.S. representatives from the same congressional district. Both Rostenkowski and Emanuel have very close ties to Daley. The Emanuel-Rostenkowski connection is one example of Chicago’s multi-generational corruption. Emanuel is President Obama’s current White House Chief of Staff. The election rigging scandal that started in Chicago spread to the Cook County and Illinois governments and then to the United States Congress and ultimately landed in the Obama White House.
At least one former presidential cabinet member is tied to Chicago’s election rigging scheme. Tomczak testified that his political organization worked for Al Gore’s presidential campaign. Mayor Daley’s brother Bill Daley was Al Gore’s campaign chairman. Bill Daley was U.S. Secretary of Commerce when campaign workers improperly tampered with the 2000 presidential election. Tomczak’s boss was Mayor Richard M. Daley. Bill Daley asked his brother Mayor Richard M. Daley for campaign workers, a request as simple as one brother asking another brother to pass the salt at the dinner table. Mayor Daley then ordered Tomczak to have his patronage workers campaign on Al Gore and Bill Daley’s behalf.
Bill Daley’s name also appeared as a political sponsor on the Clout List that the FBI found on the computer belonging to Robert Sorich, one of Daley’s patronage chiefs who is now in a federal prison. As a result of Bill Daley asking his brother Richard for campaign supporters, taxpayers footed the bill for jobs, promotions, overtime pay, and plum assignments for city employees to campaign on Bill Daley’s behalf. The support for Al Gore’s presidential race shows how corrupt Chicago politicians used their illegal campaign workers to gain political influence and power in Washington, D.C. Had Al Gore won, he would have been obligated to return political favors to Bill and Richard Daley for helping him get elected.
Chicago Politicians Refuse to Change
Richard M. Daley has been Mayor of Chicago for 21 years. Michael Madigan has been Illinois’ Speaker of the House 25 out of the last 27 years. While Daley was mayor, a 16- year job and election rigging scheme flourished until the FBI stopped it in 2004. Madigan is a legislative leader who purposely keeps the state’s campaign financing, government ethics, and election laws weak. Daley and Madigan have retained their offices not on merit, ability, or good public service. Rather Daley and Madigan owe their positions to the unfair advantages they have over their political opposition.
When the Rod Blagjevich scandal broke, it took the IL House less than a month to impeach him. Yet Madigan has held no hearings on any of the corruption in Chicago. The reason why Madigan has never investigated Chicago corruption is that Madigan and Daley are in cahoots.
One federal court witness testified that Daley provided Madigan with city patronage workers who would campaign for candidates that Madigan favored. In return, Madigan made sure the campaign laws favored Daley and fellow members of the Chicago Machine. There must be something seriously wrong with our elections and democracy when political leaders like Madigan and Daley remain in office in spite of continuous scandals under their leadership.
Chicago and IL politicians refuse to regulate and police themselves. After the Blagojevich scandal, the IL Reform Commission proposed reforms to clean up Chicago and IL governments. The Madigan-led state legislature only passed the reforms that wouldn’t threaten Madigan’s or his cronies’ political power. Members of the IL state legislature limit political competition instead of pushing for democracy, reform, and transparency.
Rep. Joseph M. Lyons introduced House Bill 6000 to increase the number of signatures needed by candidates for alderman. The purpose of Lyons’ proposal was not to create good or honest government but to limit political competition from outsiders who threaten the Daley-Madigan Machine.
A lawsuit was filed objecting to Governor Rod Blagojevich appointing Roland Burris to fill Barrack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. U.S. District Court Judge John F. Grady eventually ruled that the U. S. Constitution’s 17th Amendment clearly states that the people of each state shall “elect” their U.S. senators. When Lieutenant Governor Patrick Quinn replaced Blagojevich as governor, Quinn had the power and duty to call for a special election for Obama’s Senate seat and distance the people of Illinois from the Rod Blagojevich mess. Instead, Quinn and other powerful state Democrats said it would cost too much to hold an election. Anybody with any political sense knows that the risk of losing Obama’s Senate seat to a Republican was the real reason Quinn and the state’s Democratic leaders opposed a special election.
The failure of Governor Quinn and the IL General Assembly to hold a special election for Obama’s Senate seat demonstrates how corrupt and unconstitutional actions at the state level pollute national politics. Burris’ unconstitutional Senate appointment gave the U.S. Senate Democrats a filibuster-proof majority that they used to pass health care reform. Is it irony or business as usual that Obama, who promised change, relied on an unconstitutional process and used the country’s oldest political machine to give him and the Democrats power to reform health care?
There are five reasons why Jay Stone is calling for the U.S. Congress to investigate Chicago and IL politicians and elections.
1. According to federal court testimony, Mayor Daley, Speaker Madigan, and other Chicago and IL Democrats rigged elections for 16 years.
2. The rigged elections in Chicago and IL involved federal elections, including the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and U.S. president. For the U.S Senate seat left vacant when Barrack Obama was elected president, the IL Democrats opted in violation of the U.S. Constitution not even to hold an election.
3. Chicago and IL politicians refuse to regulate and police themselves. They are incapable of changing their corrupt practices on their own.
4. Chicago and IL political leaders like Daley and Madigan use every means possible to limit political competition. The limiting of political competition has kept Mayor Daley, House Speaker Madigan, and many others in office in spite of the widespread corruption that has occurred under their leadership.
5. If we don’t fully understand how elections were tampered with in the past and take measures to end such illegal practices, we are doomed to experience election tampering again in the future.