Hidden device used in probe of governor
October 31, 2005 (WLS) -- Governor Rod Blagojevich says he welcomes federal investigators using hidden recording devices in their probe of hiring practices in his administration.
The administration official who reportedly wore a wire for the feds was not identified by name or state agency in a Sun-Times story Monday morning. The US attorney is not commenting on the story, but the governor's top advisors say it is probably a mid-level employee in a personnel department. They claim there is nothing to worry about, because they're clean, but the drumbeat of scandal is hurting Blagojevich politically and delighting his Republican opponents.
The governor's top advisors say they are confident the administration's hiring policies are honest and above board, even though the Sun-Times is reporting that one administration official wore a hidden recording device to help the feds investigate corruption allegations.
"We welcome this investigation," said deputy governor Bradley Tusk. "It'll prove that things are done the right way."
Blagojevich said the same thing last week in the wake of revelations that his own personnel office, along with the Department of Children and Family Services and IDOT all received grand jury subpoenas demanding several years of hiring records.
"I think the scrutiny is going to show that our systems are working and that we've done this the right way," Governor Rod Blagojevich said last week.
The governor's political problems also include a federal probe of state pension corruption, several highly critical audits of state agencies, ongoing controversies over the connection between state contracts and campaign contributions, and a continuing family feud with his father-in-law, Chicago alderman Dick Mell.
"The governor has to get this behind him just like that mayor. The drip, drip, drip of the threats of scandal and investigation, these things is never helpful," said Paul Green, political analyst.
The controversies have encouraged state treasurer Judy Baar Topinka to think more seriously about running for governor next year. as Republicans in Illinois and Washington try to come up with a multi-million dollar financial commitment and a game plan for the race.
"It's all coming together for her if she wants to make the commitment. But again, money is key and promises don't pay for TV advertising," Green said.
Judy Baar Topinka is expected to make a decision one way or the other in the next couple of days, and the same people who said it was probably a no-go a few weeks ago now say it is 60-40 that she will run, because the financial and political commitments are coming together and Blagojevich is looking increasingly vulnerable, even with more than $15 million in his re-election campaign fund.
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