[Andy Martin tells a Chicago news conference that Mark Kirk is engaging in corrupt “pay to play” politics, of the type currently being prosecuted in federal court. Martin says Kirk comes “cloaked with the appearance and aroma of impropriety.” Martin releases a letter to Republican Chairman Pat Brady asking the party to return Kirk’s “dirty dollars” to the senate candidate.]
Republican for U. S. Senator/2010
“He Works for the People of Illinois”
Suite 4406, 30 E. Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611-4723
Toll-free tel. (866) 706-ANDY
Toll-free fax (866) 707-ANDY
Web site: http://www.AndyforUSSenator.com
September 3, 2009
Illinois Republican Chairman
205 W. Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60606
via fax (312) 201-0181
This year I celebrate forty years since my graduation from law school. But even before I graduated, I was a corruption-fighter, tackling Daley Machine crooks in Springfield and helping out with the investigation that led to the resignation of two Illinois Supreme Court justices for taking bribes while serving on the court.
You served honorably with the Department of Justice, also in a corruption fighting capacity.
Therefore, we start with a common reservoir of experience in analyzing the Illinois Republican Party’s (“IRP’s”) current dilemma.
I am writing to address two (2) issues involving an appearance of impropriety and to invite your efforts to elevate the ethics of the IRP. First, I am writing to suggest the serious appearance of impropriety in the IRP’s acceptance of $50,000 from Mark Kirk, a candidate some members of the leadership are supporting. Second, I write to address your own prior “endorsement” of Kirk in the 2010 primary.
Many Illinoisans believe that the IRP is part of a “Combine” of corruption in state and national politics. I believe that is the case. The past and present “Combine” prosecutions in federal court clearly document bipartisan corruption.
One of the evils of Illinois politics that is currently the subject of criminal prosecution in federal court is our state’s history of “pay to play.”
Earlier this year, Mark Kirk gave $50,000 to the IRP. In return, he has received the active support of IRP members and staffers in his senate campaign. It is difficult to conceive of a more graphic example of “pay to play.” Parties are supposed to be open, and primaries are supposed to be conducted on a level playing field. But when state party leaders lock me out of the “Voter Vault,” and censor my speaking at party meetings in Springfield or the State Fair, it is clear that “pay to play” is working and having a pernicious influence in the IRP.
Just last year I carried or nearly carried forty (40) counties in the U. S. Senate primary, and received a quarter of a million votes. Attacking me is attacking the Republicans who have supported me. I can see why Kirk would want to undermine my candidacy, but why would the IRP want to help him? Pay to play.
Mark Kirk has used the party apparatus to try to eliminate his most serious primary opponent, me, simply by bribing party leaders to support his candidacy.
The IRP should not be for sale to the highest bidder. When a primary candidate gives an extremely large sum to the IRP (we would not be having this discussion if Kirk had donated $1,000), and the party thereafter supports his candidacy and seeks to undermine and denigrate his principal opponent, then the appearance of impropriety is overwhelming and must be eliminated.
Kirk’s corrupt $50,000 in cash, moreover, came from out of state donors, primarily lobbyists and special interests who had an interest in influencing Kirk’s vote in Congress. I don’t yet know if Kirk has committed crimes, but I do know that he comes cloaked with the appearance and aroma of impropriety in the extreme. Kirk’s career represents everything that is evil and corrupt in Washington.
I therefore respectfully request that the IRP return Mr. Kirk’s $50,000. That sum is so large and its role in the IRP’s subsequent support of Kirk’s candidacy is so extreme, that the appearance of impropriety cannot be allowed to stand.
In 2006 the IRP conducted a relatively honest primary, and the result was that after the primary all of the candidates on the ballot supported the winner. If you allow Kirk’s corrupt cash contribution to stand, then no one will support Kirk after the primary, and you will lead a divided party into the general election. Is that worth $50,000? You will be jeopardizing the entire ticket solely to accommodate Mr. Kirk.
Secondly, prior to your becoming party chairman you personally endorsed Mr. Kirk. Private citizens, of course, are free to endorse whom they wish. But you are no longer a private citizen. You lead a state party with many candidates and many conflicting campaigns. Indeed, the IRP has asserted a fiduciary claim to the use of the very term “Republican.”
When Mr. Kirk announced, the names of some “supporters” were fraudulently added to his list of endorsers. You cannot, consistently with your fiduciary duty to the entire party as party chairman, remain an open supporter of Mark Kirk. Once again, the appearance of impropriety would be overwhelming. The “chairman” of an organization is usually someone who is required to be neutral.
When you leave the chairmanship of the IRP some day, all you will take with you is your good name. Sadly, Andy McKenna played dirty politics with Republicans, and when he departed no one really minded and McKenna’s “good name” was a thing of history. Even the Combine was forced to dump him after a Sangamon County judge effectively ruled he had violated my civil rights.
The temptation to act for short run gain may be seductive; but that temptation can have lethal long-term consequences, as we have seen with the decline of the IRP and McKenna’s demise.
I am occasionally criticized for exposing and prosecuting Republican corruption. Some people say “don't speak ill of another Republican.” But when I see a crook, I see a crook, I do not see a Democrat or Republican. Corruption in this state is bipartisan. It is largely due to the failure of the Republican Party to vigorously oppose corruption, and to participate in profiting from the affairs of the Combine, that our party has gone into decline and public ridicule. We cannot condemn Democratic Party’s “pay to play” when we are doing the same thing ourselves with Mark Kirk’s $50,000 bribe to party leaders.
I urge you to do the right thing, and to return Kirk’s money. I also urge you to openly and visibly withdraw your endorsement of Kirk and adhere to the view that as IRP Chairman you should be neutral and not take sides in party primaries.
An open and honest primary will pay big dividends. A crooked and rigged primary will leave serious liabilities. The choice is yours.