Rodney Davis (IL-13) Forgets Big Favor from Convicted Governor George Ryan

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A recent DCCC ad highlighting Republican Congressional candidate Rodney Davis’ ties to former Governor (and current inmate) George Ryan brought back some memories for me, but it gave the Davis campaign a case of amnesia. Davis’ response and the resulting press coverage left out some important facts. First, the ad…

Pretty typical, unimpressive attack ad.

The Davis campaign responded with a fact check that nitpicked some details:

Fact: Rodney Davis began working for the Secretary of State’s office as a fellow right out of college. He was a low-level employee who was only there for a short time and never had a connection to any wrongdoing.

Misleading Claim #2: “named on the infamous George Ryan Clout List of political favors.”

Fact: Rodney Davis was added to Scott Fawell’s “master list” without his approval, consent, or knowledge. He never asked for a favor, job, or political help. The list included numerous people, both Republicans and Democrats, who had nothing to do with corruption.

In other words, Davis did work for Ryan (for at least four years) and he was on the clout list. The ad is correct. But, there’s a little more to the story. Davis’ “fact check” has its own problems with the truth.

In 1996, Rodney Davis was given paid leave from his Secretary of State job to run for State Representative. Getting paid to not work at your government job while you run for political office is a pretty big favor!

For a little historical context, it’s important to remember John Shimkus’ connection to the George Ryan scandals. Deb Detmers, who would later work on staff for John Shimkus, testified that Secretary of State employees under George Ryan were expected to raise funds and do political work, often during state taxpayer-funded time.

Some Secretary of State employees helped John Shimkus with their “volunteer” time and major fundraising efforts during his 1996 race for Congress. The George Ryan political machine got Shimkus elected to Congress. Even after Ryan was convicted, Shimkus expressed appreciation for “everything that George Ryan did for me in the past and his support.”

Several Ryan employees went to work for Shimkus after his election, including Deb Detmers and Rodney Davis, who spent 15 years with the Congressman.

This raises all sorts of questions I’d like to hear a reporter ask Davis. Did he see the same corruption in the office that others saw? Did he object to it? Was he asked to do political work or raise money on state time?

How likely is it that Davis was elected as a Republican committeeman and ran for State Representative as a Secretary of State employee while also remaining uninvolved in that office’s rampant culture of corruption? I’d like to hear Davis talk about that. His campaign already lied once about never taking favors or help from Ryan.

© 2012 Willinois. This article is reproduced by permission of the author. All rights reserved.