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.

For years, Carrie Gammell has been trying to convince a disinterested press corps to cover her battle with the DuPage County powers-that-be. And for years she's been ignored, and often called a head case.

Never mind that she can back up much of what she says with reams of documentation.

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.

A budding political dynasty is in deep trouble on Chicago's Southwest Side.

No, I'm not talking about the attorney- general candidacy of House Speaker Michael Madigan's daughter, Lisa. And I'm not referring to former Senate President Tom Hynes' son, Dan, whose re-election as state comptroller is all but assured.

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.

It's easy to blame the legislative leaders at the Illinois statehouse for accumulating so much power. I've done it a lot, myself.

Dozens of reforms have been proposed to curtail their influence.

The leaders raise the vast majority of all legislative campaign cash, so some reformers want to cap the amount of money they can contribute to candidates.

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