Bill Brady is involved in some shady businesses. He’s a politician and a developer. Gov. Pat Quinn is trying to accuse him to mix the two, for his own personal gain. During Sunday’s debate at Elmhurst College, he brought up Brady’s vote to allow Champaign to seize land to build sewers that would have served land Brady planned to develop in the community.
Calling his opponent a “walking conflict of interest,” Quinn said that “Sen. Brady does owe an explanation about his business. He’s a real-estate developer, and he used his voting power, voting button, to vote on bills to help himself and line his own pocket.”
Today, Quinn has a new TV ad that continues the same line of attack. Is it on point. We say "Kinda Truthish." Here's why.
Let's start with the ad copy itself:
“You know real estate developer Sen. Bill Brady?" the narrator asks. "Now, we find out millionaire senator Bill Brady voted to allow the government to seize land from private landowners to benefit his own family business. Bill Brady uses government to enrich himself? Voting to seize private land to benefit his own real estate business? Who is this guy? Do we really need another governor with ethical problems?”
Quinn’s accusations are based on a Chicago Tribune investigation into Brady’s business dealings. Here’s what the newspaper had to say about Brady voting to seize private land:
Brady’s next big project in town would be a more than 300-home subdivision called Prairie Creek designed to capitalize on plans the state announced in 2002 to build a new I-57 interchange at Curtis Road. Planners and developers saw the Curtis Road corridor as the next wave of expansion in Champaign. Brady saw the potential as well, and sought to secure options on 120 acres of farmland adjacent to the interchange site.
The homes Brady planned would lead the way for additional development that would include shopping centers, restaurants and office buildings the city had earmarked for the four quadrants surrounding the highway intersection.
In 2003, the state legislature gave the local government authority to take land for sewers along Curtis Road east of Brady’s property. A final vote to enact the law occurred Nov. 4, as Brady was securing options on the land he planned to develop. He voted for it.
Three years later, when the legislature re-authorized the sewer plans, well after Brady began acquiring the land, he again voted in favor of the measure. In 2007, Brady also voted for similar legislation allowing Champaign and other local governments to seize property to build their share of the interchange.
Although the actions would help move the interchange project along, and affect the value of his land, Brady did not recuse himself.
So. The ad's only "kinda truthish" because Brady never actually enriched himself. The project was shelved in 2008, when the real estate market collapsed. Still, Brady should not have been voting on legislation from which he stood to gain financially. During the debate, he promised to give up day-to-day operations of his family business, but said he would still receive earnings from current investments. That’s not good enough. He should put those earnings in a blind trust as long as he is governor.
After so many career politicians as governor, there’s nothing wrong with putting a businessman in there. But he has to learn not to mix business and politics.