Daily dose: Local history, Dan Rutherford, Rep. Tim Johnson's independence, Johnson's GOP opponent's problems
In 1911, the highway commissioners of Ogden Township met Saturday to consider a petition from 24 landowners living along the road 2 1/2 miles south of Ogden to have the road narrowed 40 feet. The commissioners refused to grant the petition.
In 1961, local legislators said they were angry after state Public Works Director William Payes said that a five-mile stretch of Interstate 57 south of Champaign-Urbana would not be contracted this year because of the lack of federal funds. There has been increasing criticism of the Kerner administration for channeling highway money into the Chicago, East St. Louis and southern Illinois areas, and delaying projects in central Illinois. Construction of Interstate 74 in the Danville area has slowed since Kerner became governor.
Dan Rutherford mailing sent to big donors
From the Daily Herald ...
This summer, the office of Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford sent a glossy summary of “successes” to a select 850 state residents — a majority of whom happen to be major campaign donors to the Pontiac Republican.
Rutherford, who party insiders say is strongly mulling a bid for governor, says it is “merely a coincidence” that nearly two-thirds of the recipients of the slick mailer are also donors to his political campaign.
Rutherford sent out the 11-page full-color booklet titled “No More Debt” on June 1. “Paid for by the state of Illinois. 850 copies,” it reads in small print on the back.
The mailing did not solicit donations, but highlighted what it portrayed as successes of the treasurer's first six months in office, citing newspaper editorials warning other constitutional officers to heed Rutherford's calls to freeze state spending and end borrowing.
“As the state treasurer, I am here to sound the alarm,” a narrative reads, calling for responsible budgeting, spending only as much as the state brings in.
According to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and cross-checked against campaign disclosure data filed with the State Board of Elections, 566 of the original 850 recipients were Rutherford campaign donors, contributing a total of $1.6 million to the former lawmaker's war chest over the last 16 years.
They include Craig Duchossois, CEO of Elmhurst-based Duchossois Industries, who, since 1996, has given Rutherford's campaign over $32,500; former candidate for governor Ron Gidwitz, who has given Rutherford $16,500 since 1999; James Liautaud, the founder of Jimmy John's sandwich franchise, who has contributed $156,000 to Rutherford since 2005; and Goldman Sachs investment banker Muneer Satter, who has donated $75,000 over the past four years.
From Sunday's News-Gazette column ...
A new report rating congressional voting independence found that U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, had the fourth-highest rating among Republicans for not toeing the party line; Johnson voted with his party on 61.6 percent of the 100 votes surveyed by Politico, and bucked his party 38.4 percent of the time. Only three Republicans were more independent, including GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, who voted with his party 53.8 percent of the time.
Johnson was by far the least partisan of the Illinois Republican congressional delegation members. Ranked second for independence from his party was Rep. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-North Barrington, at 75.8 percent.
Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, who under the new congressional district map will represent Vermilion and other area counties, voted with the GOP on 86.7 percent of the 100 roll calls.
Johnson's primary foe acknowledges doing 'stupid stuff'
From Bernard Schoenburg's column ...
SAM SPRADLIN, a 46-year-old Springfield truck driver who is circulating petitions to run for the Republican nomination to the U.S. House in the new 13th Congressional District, has five felony counts of forgery on his record dating back to when he was 18.
“It was … a kid doing stupid stuff, plain and simple,” Spradlin told me. “Nothing more, nothing less.”
Court records show that Spradlin took out bank accounts in someone else’s name and wrote checks on those accounts. The five checks yielding the charges included one to an auto service center, three to stores and one to a bank. The largest was $200, and the total was $540.
He wrote and signed a statement at the time saying he was “deeply in debt” when he came out of the service in 1983, and that he talked to a minister about it and wanted to confess but was scared of violence from people close to the person whose name he had used.
“I am very sorry and want to repay this as soon as it is possible,” the statement given to police states.
Spradlin told me he had joined the Army but got pneumonia and had a history of asthma, so he was medically discharged.
He said he was unemployed at the time, but also told me that while his statement was coached by a detective, opening the accounts “wasn’t even about money.” Instead, he said he targeted the person whose name he used for what Spradlin characterized as the bad way that person had treated people in high school in Williamsville.
“I had a run-in with him just before this,” Spradlin said, saying he thought the person “really needed to be taken down a few notches.”
“I equate that with a kid computer hacking today,” he said, and he “didn’t really realize the full extent” of his actions.
“There is not enough I can say to apologize for it,” he said.
He said he was given probation, and paid back the money.
Spradlin had thought he had records of the case expunged, but the case number appeared on the Sangamon County circuit clerk’s website, and microfilm of the case was available when I asked. The 1994 application for expungement was part of that record — filed by then-Circuit Clerk CARL OBLINGER — but it was not signed by a judge. Current Circuit Clerk TONY LIBRI said several steps must be taken to expunge a record, and files at the county don’t reflect such steps.
Spradlin also has been through what he agreed could be called a messy divorce, but said he has been happily remarried for a decade. And he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol in 2008. He said it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, so police were on the lookout, and he had some drinks over time, including “a really, really big mug of beer” just before he left a restaurant at White Oaks Mall. He said police recorded a blood-alcohol level just above 0.10, but the DUI was ultimately dropped and he pleaded guilty to a stop-sign violation.
“My life fits into the normal-guy category,” said Spradlin, who plans to continue seeking the congressional seat. He said he’s become “a good, productive member of society,” and he hopes people look at “what my future is, not what my past was.”