New State GOP Chief Assails Blagojevich's Donor Reports

Chicago Tribune     
Copyright Chicago Tribune 2002     
John McCormick

Resorting to the kind of name-calling typically found much later in a political campaign, the new chairman of the Illinois Republican Party on Monday attacked Democratic candidate for governor Rod Blagojevich as an "articulate incompetent" who failed to properly disclose information about contributors.

"He's either hiding something, or he's running a very careless, sloppy, incompetent campaign," said Gary MacDougal, who was elected GOP chairman last month after at least three others rejected the job.

With three months to go before the election, Republicans are looking for ways to jump-start Atty. Gen. Jim Ryan's campaign for governor while suggesting the better-financed Blagojevich is ill prepared for the job.

Republicans said they have filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections against Blagojevich for failure to disclose address, employer or occupation information for hundreds of contributors.

MacDougal said Blagojevich failed to provide employer and occupation information for 266 of 483 donors who gave $500 or more during the first six months of the year.

In addition, MacDougal said address information was missing for 117 contributors. Addresses are required for all donors who give $150 or more.

MacDougal said Ryan's campaign provided occupation and employer information for 498 of 504 contributors who gave $500 or more.

He said Blagojevich's lack of disclosure suggests the Democrat doesn't want it known that he is "owned and operated by trial lawyers and union bosses."

State law requires campaigns to make a good-faith effort to track down the information if the donor doesn't provide it, which Blagojevich's campaign said it has done.

"We have a tremendous number of contributors," said Doug Scofield, a Blagojevich spokesman. "It was difficult to do in the time allowed."

Scofield said Blagojevich's campaign has already twice amended its report to include more of the information. The report, covering the first six months of the year, was due Wednesday.

Kent Redfield, a University of Illinois political scientist who studies money in politics, said those who run for statewide office generally do a good job of providing the information.

Redfield said Republicans likely made an issue of Blagojevich's spotty disclosure because he's leading in fundraising and in polls.

"They have to improve their positives and disassociate themselves from the scandals," he said. "They also have to increase their opponent's negatives."

MacDougal said voters shouldn't make the mistake of hiring someone with flash, but no substance.

  "There is nothing more dangerous than hiring an articulate incompetent," he said. "The talk is there, but the action isn't."

   Disclosure reports filed last week showed Blagojevich raised $7.6 million during the first six months of the year, compared with $4.9 million by Ryan. He had $3.8 million in the bank at the end of June, compared with $689,000 for Ryan.