Thursday, March 29, 2007

How Fitz Got His Job As U.S. Attorney

Nearly everyone acknowledges that Patrick Fitzgerald is a skilled, indomitable, non-partisan prosecutor willing to investigate anybody of any party for crimes and malfeasance. The NY Times says that's why Karl Rove, Denny Hastert and former Illinois Governor George Ryan DIDN'T want him to be appointed U.S. attorney in Chicago:

Early in the Bush administration, Mr. Fitzgerald said, he sought to recruit a prosecutor who could investigate Gov. George Ryan of Illinois without fear of influence by the state’s political powers. But Governor Ryan and his political ally Speaker J. Dennis Hastert argued to the White House that they should have a voice in the decision and insisted that someone from Illinois get the post. Mr. Fitzgerald, who had hired Mr. Rove as a consultant , called him to settle the question.

“Peter, it is your pick,” Mr. Rove told Mr. Fitzgerald, the former senator recalled. “But we don’t want you to pick anybody from out of state. For your Chicago guy, it has to be from Chicago.”

Undeterred, Mr. Fitzgerald sidestepped the White House. He made only one recommendation — Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a New York prosecutor — announced it publicly, and drew public acclaim that made it unstoppable. Some time after the appointment, the former Senator Fitzgerald said, Mr. Rove “kind of yelled at me,” telling him, “The appointment got great headlines for you but it ticked off the base”— a phrase that the senator took to refer to the state’s Republican establishment.

Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said Mr. Rove was simply pushing a general administration goal to appoint home-state prosecutors.

Had Rove and Hastert gotten their way and had a "Chicago guy" appointed U.S. attorney in Chicago (i.e., a Republican Party apparatchik who wouldn't ruffle the feathers of the wrong people) , Governor Ryan would still be governor today.

Instead, Senator Peter Fitzgerald had Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) from New York appointed and Governor Ryan was convicted of racketeering and bribery charges. Here's wikipedia on what Fitz had to say about Ryan in court:

"Mr. Ryan steered contracts worth millions of dollars to friends and took payments and vacations in return. When he was a sitting governor, he lied to the F.B.I. about this conduct and then he went out and did it again." He charged that one of the most egregious aspects of the corruption was Ryan's action after learning that bribes were being paid for licenses. Instead of ending the practice he tried to end the investigation that had uncovered it, Fitzgerald said, calling the moment "a low-water mark for public service.

Now you can see why Karl Rove, Denny Hastert and George Ryan weren't so happy when Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed U.S. attorney for Chicago.

One wonders in how many other cases Rove and the local Republican Party authorities had their way and had Republican Party apparatchiks and hacks appointed who played along with what Rove and Company wanted - prosecutions of Democrats/no prosecutions of fellow Repubs.

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