Gifts to Gov. Quinn range from books to wine to fancy pen
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Springfield bureau chief firstname.lastname@example.org November 25, 2012 7:14PM
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. | File photo
A sampling of gifts Gov. Pat Quinn disclosed receiving, sorted by type of giver or type of gift
Mayor Rahm Emanuel: bottle of wine, $30 (2011)
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago): book: “Green Tech, Environmental Technology for Germany,” $37 (2009)
Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke: leather folder and eight lapel pins, $50 (2009)
Singer Rick Pickren: “The State Songs, Volume One” CD, $15 (2009)
Pierfrancesco Federici, Baker & McKenzie, Milan, Italy: Visconti fountain pen, $500 (2012)
Rocco Claps and Betsy Ebeling: ceramic Abe Lincoln tray, $75 (2009)
Cork County, Ireland county council: Celtic Bogwood clock; books “In Lincoln’s Hand: His original manuscripts” and “Maritime Paintings of Cork, 1700-2000”, $283 (2009)
Lucian Leustean, consolute general of Romania: book “Romanian Diplomacy – An Illustrated History (1862-1947),” value not listed (2011)
Consulate of Uruguay: pictures of Uruguay, $20 (2012)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry: book “Fed Up!”, $12.25 (2011)
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue: book “Smart Government,” no value listed (2011)
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer: branded wood, $5, and belt buckle, $15 (2011)
Cardinal Francis George: book “God in Action,” $22.99 (2011)
Architect Helmut Jahn: books on the Suvarnabhumi Airport and Millenium, $50 (2009)
Chicago White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf: Volunteer Corps book, $50 (2010)
Updated: December 27, 2012 6:10AM
SPRINGFIELD — A book on Scientology by L. Ron Hubbard. An Italian fountain pen worth $500. A compendium of state songs. And a chocolate foot.
Those are a few of the hundreds of trinkets, T-shirts and other garage sale-worthy gifts that Gov. Pat Quinn says he has amassed since becoming governor in 2009.
Unlike with his imprisoned predecessor Rod Blagojevich, none of the stuff Quinn has taken in came from felons or those under indictment, a class that represented a big part of Blagojevich’s inner circle.
Instead, an array of self-published authors, foreign dignitaries, singers, religious leaders like Cardinal George and politicians that included Mayor Rahm Emanuel were listed among the 619 entries in a gift log compiled by Quinn’s office. The items carried a declared value of nearly $15,000.
“The governor’s office receives a wide variety of gifts, from pens and T-shirts to dishes and plaques from dignitaries. We often donate gifts to charity or display them throughout the governor’s offices in Springfield and Chicago and at the executive mansion,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said.
“These gifts can range from thoughtful to unusual, but they are always appreciated,” she said.
Thanks to limits the Legislature imposed in recent years on presents elected officials can receive, the list supplied by Quinn’s office doesn’t show a lot of expensive or controversial gifts. But it does provide a peek inside the governor’s day-to-day activities and the people and businesses trying to curry favor, make a point or hawk a product.
The log, a tradition started under former Gov. James Thompson, doesn’t contain every gift Quinn has gotten during his time as governor, including from his family members, which state law doesn’t require that he disclose.
In his 2012 state economic disclosure statement, Quinn reported getting gifts valued in excess of $500 from the East Bank Club, the Jewish Federation of Chicago and a death penalty abolition non-profit called Death Penalty Focus. None of those gifts was identified in his office’s gift log.
But among those that were was a chunk of chocolate made in the shape of a foot given to him in 2009 by Southern Illinois University Trustee Roger Herrin, whom Quinn appointed to the university’s board in 2011 and tried unsuccessfully to have installed as the board’s chairman last spring.
Also that year, US99 gave Quinn, a country music fan, an assortment of CDs from singers Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts and others.
In February 2010, Quinn disclosed receipt of a gift from River Forest balladeer Rick Pickren: a copy of the singer’s CD, “The State Songs, Volume One.”
But the singer told the Chicago Sun-Times he actually had sent the CD, which was partially funded by the Illinois Arts Council, to Blagojevich in 2008 — as well as other governors whose states were represented on the compilation.
“Most of the governors responded with a letter of appreciation. Sadly, I never received an acknowledgment from Gov. Blagojevich or Gov. Quinn,” Pickren said. “I considered sending another copy to Springfield after Quinn was elected but since I never heard back from anyone in Blago’s office, I decided against it.”
Besides disclosing receipt of the CD, Quinn’s log showed a thank-you letter should have gone out to Pickren, but the record doesn’t indicate whether that action ever took place.
And last December, Emanuel gave Quinn a bottle of wine worth $30.
A few days later, Cardinal George gave a $22.99 copy of his book, “God in Action,” a book Amazon.com describes as a call “for resistance to creeping ideas that seek to deny religious organizations the freedom to act on their convictions and, thus, shutting voices of faith out of the public square on culture-defining issues.”
The timing of the cardinal’s gift to the governor is interesting because it came within days of George and other Catholic bishops across the state admonishing the governor for his positions on abortion and gay couples’ right to adopt, which the bishops said ran counter to the church’s views.
Many of the gifts Quinn receives come from foreign dignitaries, including what probably ranks as his favorite item of those he’s gotten.
“The governor was especially honored to receive the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, bestowed to him personally by the president of Poland when they met during NATO,” Anderson said.