U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is not amused by the Illinois GOP's distribution of a fake press release claiming he would pressure Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn to testify about his scandal-plagued anti-violence program.
"Politics ain't bean bag, this isn't my first campaign," Durbin, a downstate Democrat, tells the Chicago Tribune. "I know things get tough, but this is a new low. To put out a phony press release supposedly from my office, and to involve my official staff in a campaign war is unfair and inaccurate and I think the Illinois state Republican party ought to apologize to the media."
The "campaign war" of which he speaks is raging between incumbent Quinn and his Republican challenger, Bruce Rauner, both struggling to out-charm, out-maneuver and out-prank one another in the make-or-break months leading up to the Nov. 4 election. In terms of "Punk'd"-style stunts, Team Rauner has the lead with the obnoxious ubiquity of Quinnocchio and that infamous prairie chicken episode.
This time, Team Quinn dealt the first blow. Staffers emailed out a faux "media advisory" Thursday night that alerted the press to a supposed question-and-answer session Rauner was planning to address growing controversy over using his clout to get his daughter into an elite Chicago public high school.
The email, sent by the "Quinn Press Team," teased that the Winnetka venture capitalist would "face reporters (Friday) and, with a candor yet unseen in his campaign, answer the following questions” on his Walter Payton Prep string-pulling, the Trib reported.
The Rauner-supporting Illinois Republican Party retaliated the next morning with a memo slamming Quinn and alleging that Durbin was preparing to grill the governor over his troubled $55 million anti-violence program, now under state and federal investigation for financial wrongdoing.
Their press release, which was OK'ed by the Rauner campaign, said Durbin was calling a news conference at a Metra station and quoted him as telling Quinn: "I will not lie down on the tracks for you while the federal prosecutor train is coming through."
Asked about his faux remarks, the exasperated political veteran -- running for re-election against GOP contender Jim Oberweis -- responded: "Why would I as a United States senator step into a program I know nothing about and call for certain witnesses to be subpoenaed, whoever they may be? Let's let this proceed in an orderly fashion, in a bi-partisan fashion, let's get the facts on the table."
He added: "For goodness sakes, let's maintain some credibility with the public and the media."