Seeking payback, GOP calls Quinn’s pick ‘pay to play’
RICH MILLER firstname.lastname@example.org April 7, 2011 9:54PM
Updated: May 11, 2011 6:18PM
There seems to be a deliberate misunderstanding by some state Senate Republicans these days.
They’re claiming that Gov. Pat Quinn’s nomination of Terry Cosgrove to the Illinois Human Rights Commission is a disgusting example of “pay to play” politics.
But that’s just silly.
Pay to play means I give you something so that you’ll give me something.
For instance, Gov. Rod Blagojevich wanted to engage in some pay to play when he sought out campaign contributions, a job for himself or his wife and other nefarious things in exchange for appointing somebody to the U.S. Senate.
Now, that’s pay to play. All the way.
State contractors were banned from contributing to gubernatorial candidates because their businesses and, therefore, their personal bank accounts, could directly benefit by the outcomes of those races. State employees are barred from donating to the governor for the very same reason.
But governors in every state have a long history of appointing political supporters to state boards and commissions.
And this appointment is no different.
Cosgrove runs Personal PAC, a pro-choice group that raises and spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every campaign season. Cosgrove also has a long history of working for gay rights. He helped pass a human rights ordinance in Champaign and Urbana decades ago.
Last year, Cosgrove cranked up his fund-raising machine for Quinn.
State Sen. Bill Brady, Quinn’s Republican opponent, was (and remains) 100 percent pro-life. Brady is for no exceptions for rape or incest.
Cosgrove jumped in with both feet, spending more than $400,000 to beat Brady, whom he saw as the greatest threat to his pro-choice cause in many a year.
Brady led in almost all the polls right up to the end and then just barely lost to Quinn on Election Day.
One of Brady’s top campaign staffers told me after the election that Cosgrove’s direct mail and cable TV ads in the northern suburbs were what tipped the balance to Quinn.
So, as you might expect, the Republicans are not at all pleased with Cosgrove’s nomination.
And because they can’t just come right out and say that their avowed political enemy shouldn’t be appointed to a state commission, they’ve taken to calling the move “play to play.”
This is pure politics attempting to hide behind corruption allegations.
It’s merely an attempt at political payback for the crushing defeat of one of their colleagues last year. No more, no less.
To consider this a corrupt act, you’d have to believe that Cosgrove supported Quinn simply because he wanted to snag a plum job.
Anybody who knows Cosgrove realizes this is crazy bunk.
He went after Brady because Brady presented himself as a gigantic, scary target. Personal PAC’s whole reason for existence is to keep people like Brady out of office.
Now, if you want to say that no campaign supporter should ever be appointed to a state job, well, maybe we can talk.
I think the idea would be way overboard, but, OK, let’s kick it around.
Extending that logic too far out would mean, however, that the Senate Republicans couldn’t put people on their state staff who worked campaigns last year — which would be most of them.
You could argue that Cosgrove doesn’t have the “neutral” temperament required to serve on the Human Rights Commission. I might not disagree with you there. He has never been a neutral sort of guy. But to claim that this appointment, which was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday, is somehow corrupt is little more than political posturing. I really hope the media doesn’t fall for this game.