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.
Even poor, hapless Thomas Jefferson Ramsdell managed to stumble into Governor George Ryan's scandal. The Republican candidate for comptroller was previously best known for driving to airports throughout the state to announce his candidacy.
Ramsdell didn't even raise $25,000 in the first six months of this year, but he somehow scrounged up $4,450 to pay for a Unistat mailer. And, if that wasn't bad enough, Ramsdell also forked over more than $2,200 to American Management Resources - the company allegedly used to launder illegal kickbacks from George Ryan pal Larry Warner to George Ryan pal Don Udstuen, and which allegedly did the same sort of thing for George Ryan pal Scott Fawell. Ramsdell should have saved his money.
· It gets worse. As you've probably heard by now, Jim Ryan ended the first six months of this year with just $689,809 in cash, not to mention that he's also on the hook for a $250,000 bank loan. In contrast, his opponent in the gubernatorial campaign, Rod Blagojevich, had $3.8 million left over, and claims to have raised another $1.5 million in July.
Jim Ryan's people say they took in a significant amount of dough in July, too, but their campaign is so incredibly top-heavy that the money is probably all gone by now.
For instance, Jim Ryan's campaign treasurer, Joel Herter, is also an accountant. Herter's company billed Ryan's campaign $38,000 for "financial management." That's ridiculously high.
Jim Ryan also hired Unistat before Stanley was indicted - to the tune of $314,000. Evidently, nobody over there heard the long-ago rumors that the Hog was in this scandal up to his ears.
And then there's the mysterious case of Nancy Yacoub - who received about five grand a month last year from Jim Ryan's campaign even though she had resigned her fundraising job. Ryan's folks said she had a contract, and the campaign planned to honor it. And if you believe that one, you might be willing to spend 38 large on financial-management advice. Anyway, Ms. Yacoub, who has refused to speak with reporters, received a $46,000 payment in January, and insiders say she will receive no more money.
· Moving right along, a quick glance at GOP attorney-general candidate Joe Birkett's disclosure report turned up $226,000 in payments to the pre-indicted Unistat. On the bright side, Birkett didn't get hosed by his accountant, and no large sums of money were handed over to any mysterious women. Birkett, to his credit, also had roughly the same amount of cash on hand as his opponent, Lisa Madigan. But that won't last. Madigan and her House Speaker father can raise a fortune by November.
· It's been alleged that House Republican Leader Lee Daniels' staff performed lots of campaign work on state time, and Daniels' disclosure report might reflect the leader's concern. Daniels' campaign account actually reported the issuance of a 64-cent check to the state for "non-state phone use."
· The "most improved fundraiser" award goes to Senate Democratic Leader Emil Jones, who finally has a legislative district map he can win with. The Illinois Senate Democratic Fund (ISDF) raised $788,000 and had $942,000 in the bank. Two years ago, the ISDF took in $330,000 and had $595,000 left over. The numbers were about the same in '98. His personal committee, Friends of Emil Jones, did even better, raising $996,000 with $2.1 million in the bank, compared to a piddling $143,000 two years ago with $1.1 million left over.
· The one bad spot for the Democrats at filing deadline was Representative Tom Dart's apparent failure to file a disclosure report by the midnight deadline. Actually, Dart filed the wrong report, then fixed his mistake after the deadline had passed.
This is not a good thing for Dart, who is running for state treasurer against Topinka. It's particularly troubling because the second time he filed his report he forgot to include, as required, the status of a $200,000 loan he received from his father last year. Oops. Aren't treasurers supposed to be detail-oriented?
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter. He can be reached at (http://www.capitolfax.com).