I have been writing about Illinois politics for more than 12 years now, and, believe it or not, I've never called anyone a liar. That's a pretty harsh thing to say about someone, even a politician. But I'm starting to wonder whether Republican attorney general candidate Joe Birkett is capable of telling the truth.

A little over a week ago, Illinois House Republican Leader Lee Daniels told his leadership team that he would seek re-election to his post in January. The announcement reportedly stunned his team members, who had been assured privately that Daniels would step down at the end of this term.

For months now, Lisa Madigan has allowed her staff or some other surrogates to attack Joe Birkett, her Republican opponent in the race for Illinois attorney-general.

The personal high-road strategy hasn't worked too well so far.

The Illinois Supreme ruled last week that you, as a taxpayer, have no right to sue when your state tax money is spent illegally.

The case, brought by the Better Government Association (BGA), sought to recover tax money that was allegedly used to subsidize Governor George Ryan's campaign operation.

The news media, particularly in Chicago, has expended huge amounts of time and energy researching every nook and cranny of attorney-general candidate Lisa Madigan's life and political connections. But almost nothing has been written about her opponent, Joe Birkett.

What follows was assembled using DuPage County grand-jury testimony given by police detective Greg Figel.

According to the testimony, William Stoltz was unemployed for the last six months of 1999. Stoltz lived in a house with his wife of 18 months, Dawn.

I'm getting pretty tired of all the news stories about political corruption these days.

Every time we turn around, another media outlet is screaming for a new federal investigation. It's become the thing to do in media circles, an attempt to mount an indicted trophy head or two on newsroom walls as a display of accomplishment and importance.

E-Mail To Ellicia (from Vanessa Miller, age 16):

Hey hun, how are you? I am doin' just fine. I just got back from the state fair. These last two days have been awesome for me. I have my own press pass for future use and I can pretend that I am all-important.

You know it's bad news when the Republican state treasurer has more money in her campaign account than all her fellow GOP statewide candidates and the state Republican Party combined.

Plus, to top it all off, most big-time Republican who filed campaign-finance disclosure reports last week - except Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka - did business with a corrupt little mail house called Unistat, run by the now infamous (and indicted) Roger "The Hog" Stanley.

Illinois House Republican Leader Lee Daniels summoned his top lieutenants to Springfield last week for what was billed as an election strategy session.

Instead, the meeting immediately morphed into a war council, as Daniels and his leadership team talked about how to fend off a surprisingly strong coup attempt.

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