If Bill Brady represents a clean break from the past, why is he attending fundraisers thrown by former Blagojevich insiders?
GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady wants a clean break from the past. He's the first to connect his opponent, Gov. Pat Quinn, with disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, often blaming the state's woes on the "Quinn-Blagojevich administration." "I’d fumigate ’em,” Brady said during the primary, in response to a question about how to deal with Blagojevich political appointees still working in government. "These are political appointees by corrupt people."
If he can shake a few donations out of those Blagojevich insiders, though, Brady doesn't seem so eager to spurn them.
During last night's gubernatorial debate, Gov. Pat Quinn asked Sen. Brady about a secret fundraiser thrown for the Republican by Rod Blagojevich’s former deputy governor, Dean Martinez. Progress Illinois has been provided with an invitation from the event, titled "Latinos Por Bill Brady," which was held on September 30 at a Chicago steakhouse. (Capitol Fax first reported this shindig in its subscriber-only newsletter.)
Brady did not deny the event took place. Indeed, he confirmed it. "Governor Quinn is drawing for straws," he said. "These are fine people." He later claimed the fundraiser was one component of his outreach to Latino voters. (We've previously written about Brady's shaky commitment to the immigrant community, a major concern for Latino voters.) Watch the exchange, cut by ABC 7, which hosted the event:
Who are these "fine people?" Martinez was appointed deputy governor just eight days before Blagojevich's arrest. Before that, he served in the administration as Secretary of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Quinn relieved him of his duties one month into his term.
Juan Ochoa, a longtime executive of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, also attended the event. You may remember him from his stint heading the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which he left riddled with corruption and in heaps of debt. (The General Assembly just overhauled McPier's governance structure this spring.) A lengthy 2009 investigation in Crain's explains both how Ochoa "won his post after raising campaign cash for disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich" and how "McPier contractors continue to pump out donations to state and local officials." (Read the full piece here.)
How much cash? Personally, campaign finance disclosures show that he only chipped in $5,489 to the Blagojevich camp. But Ochoa also served as treasurer of the Illinois Business PAC, now inactive, which a January 3, 2007 Tribune article cited as "having given Blagojevich $74,300 in cash and services since 2001."
We're not suggesting that either gentleman be run out of polite society. Blagojevich was in office for over six years, which means many people and interest groups in Illinois have some connection to his administration. Quinn himself choose to join Blagojevich's ticket twice, even if their relationship was not exactly warm.
But Ochoa and Martinez's connection to the Brady campaign should put the Republican's talking points in perspective. Brady represents a fresh start for Illinois, so long as voters ignore portions of his fundraising apparatus.