It seems the democratic governor of our neighboring state, just to the south of Wisconsin, is having all kinds of ethical problems this election year also!
This is not the 2006 election year Fitzmas that the Democrats had hoped for-
CHICAGO - Gov. Rod Blagojevich insisted Saturday that misconduct in his administration is limited to isolated events by people who are soon punished, even though his own inspector general found a top Blagojevich aide took part in a "concerted effort" to subvert the law.
"As you police the system, every so often you're going find some people who violate the rules. The test of leadership is what do you do about it? Do you act and do you pursue it? Do you work with other law enforcement agencies to ferret more of it out?" he said. "Those are the things we've been doing."
His comments came one day after the release of a letter saying that a yearlong federal investigation had produced credible witnesses related to hiring fraud at multiple state agencies.
And the Chicago Tribune reported that Blagojevich's former inspector general, Zaldwaynaka "Z" Scott, found that the governor's patronage chief had worked with the Illinois Department of Employment Security to manipulate state hiring.
Joe Cini, head of the Gov.'s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, worked with personnel officials at the Department of Employment Security to manipulate job titles, candidate credentials and job descriptions to aid jobseekers sponsored by the governor's office, Scott concluded.
"This effort reflects not merely an ignorance of the law, but complete and utter contempt for the law," Scott wrote in a Sept. 9, 2004, report obtained by the Tribune.
Scott, who resigned a year ago to join a private law firm, found "a concerted effort to subvert the laws including veterans' preference and the hiring process" for jobs that are supposed to be insulated from politics.
Blagojevich said he was not concerned about her blistering criticism of Cini.
"In fact, that's a good sign," he said at a news conference. "Again, that shows we're not even afraid to police people, you know, who are working for us who have responsibilities."
Cini and his aides received additional training on hiring law, as Scott had recommended. Some personnel at the Department of Employment Security were fired, said a Blagojevich spokeswoman.
Blagojevich said his administration has referred some misconduct allegations to the U.S. attorney for possible prosecution. He did not say whether the report on Cini was sent to federal authorities.
The Democratic governor has been hit with a series of revelations about possible misconduct in the way he hands out state jobs and contract. The disclosures create a huge political obstacle for someone who was elected on a promise to clean up state government and now is asking voters for a second term.
Blagojevich acknowledges he has been interviewed by the FBI. Prosecutors have issued subpoenas for hiring records and other information from state agencies, but Blagojevich won't say which agencies.
The administration _ after a list surfaced to prove the practice _ admitted it keeps track of jobseekers and their politically influential sponsors. Another list obtained by The Associated Press showed the administration tracked, by name, hundreds of jobs and promotions that are supposed to be shielded from political considerations.
Then Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan released the letter confirming the federal investigation and providing details. In it, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says he is looking into "very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud."
Jay Stewart, head of the watchdog Better Government Association, said the letter shows Fitzgerald is well beyond a preliminary review of the facts. He concludes Fitzgerald is conducting a broad, aggressive investigation like the ones into former Gov. George Ryan and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's administration.
"Given what (Fitzgerald) has done, I would be surprised if there are not indictments," Stewart said.
As he has before, Blagojevich portrayed the hiring scandals as fallout from his efforts to change the way things are done in Springfield after 26 years of Republican governors.
Blagojevich noted that one of the changes is that every state employee must now understand the state's ethical standards and answer a series of questions about them.
"I just completed mine," he said, "and I'm happy to say I got every one right."
Associated Press reporter Christopher Wills contributed to this story from Springfield.
A service of the Associated Press(AP)