Did Quinn Practice Pay to Play?

Did Gov. Pat Quinn practice pay to play politics when he offered Rep. Careen Gordon an $85,886-a-year job on the Prisoner Review Board after she voted for his income tax increase?

Patti Blagojevich, the wife of Quinn’s ex-boss, thinks so. And she thinks Quinn’s jobs-for-vote trading is no different than the political wheeling-and-dealing that led to her husband’s impeachment and trial.

“Here’s somebody who…made a vote to get herself a job,” Blagojevich said Wednesday on WLS’s Don Wade and Roma Show. “And on the other hand, you talked about jobs, investigated things with your lawyers. Discussed things and never took any action but you’re under indictment for pretty much the same thing.”

Gordon withdrew her nomination after Republicans beefed that it was a reward for voting in favor of Quinn’s tax increase. Here’s how the Tribune described the deal:  

In January, Gordon told the Tribune she approached the governor about a job on the Prisoner Review Board soon after losing her November re-election bid to a seat in downstate Morris. Gordon said Quinn asked her during that conversation what she thought of the possibility of a tax increase. 

Gordon said she told the governor she could support a tax hike only if she knew how the money would be used, cuts were included and there would be “no new programs.” He did not ask for her vote, she said. Nor did she feel pressured to vote for the legislation, she said.

Maybe not, but clearly, Gordon would not have gotten the appointment if she’d voted against the tax bill. The fact that Quinn’s first question after she asked for the job was “What do you think of my tax bill?” shows that he let her know that.

Call me cynical, but anyone who has a problem with trading favors for votes has a problem with politics. Strip away the idealism -- there’s not much to strip away in Illinois -- and this game is all about making deals.

Blagojevich is on trial because he played the game so clumsily: he was caught on the phone trying to make a deal too big to ever consummate: a federal job in exchange for a Senate seat. If he’d just asked for a spot on the Prisoner Review Board, his case would have been laughed out of court.

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