Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Janice Schakowsky (D-Illinois 9th Congr. Dist.) Commits Ethical Violations in her Win Over Joel Pollak

In 11 electoral contests yesterday, a candidate supported by the Republican Jewish Coalition PAC went mano-al-mano with a candidate backed by J-Street. One of only three electoral contests in which the Republican Jewish Coalition candidate did not prevail was the Illinois 9th Congressional District, where Democratic incumbent Janice Schakowsky won handily against Republican challenger Joel Pollak. Mind you, this was considered a safe Democratic district to begin with--Ms. Schakowsky had won 78% of the vote in 2008. Yesterday Joel Pollak managed to garner around one third of the votes, but that still left two-thirds for Ms. Schakowsky.

With those odds, you would think that Ms. Schakowsky would at least play by the rules. But when Hugh Hewitt wrote, "If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat," he meant that the Democrats can't steal an election by cheating if the GOP has a huge lead. He never said that the Democrats won't cheat when they're way ahead.

So it went in the Illinois 9th Congressional District. Here is Joel Pollak's post-election statement:

This morning, the hosts on WIND 560 AM asked me how my conversation with Jan Schakowsky went last night. The truth, I told them, was that I hadn’t spoken with her at all. Our campaign called hers twice, then I left a message conceding the election. There was no return call, no acknowledgment of the choice made by over 50,000 people in the 9th congressional district. It was, unfortunately, a fitting end to Schakowsky’s campaign.

I respect the choice made by two-thirds of the voters, and I respect the effort made by my opponent to earn their trust. Yet I do not respect--nor should we tolerate--the means by which she sought it. I am less concerned about the false and negative mailings, the last-minute funding for long-neglected local needs, and the behind-the-scenes political maneuvers than I am about the clear ethical violations she committed in this election.

In September, Schakowsky claimed credit for saving Devon Avenue from “going dark” by stopping foreclosures by United Central Bank. The reality is that she intervened at the behest of influential political contributors who were responsible for multiple loans, few of which involved property on Devon. In my view, Schakowsky violated the ethics rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. I will continue to pursue that complaint.

Yesterday, Schakowsky electioneered inside several polling places inside the district, handing out candy to election judges and greeting voters inside the “campaign free zone.” She even discussed helping an election judge obtain a congressional internship. That is simply unethical, and possibly illegal. Her behavior did not swing the result, but showed a clear disregard for the integrity, privacy, and fairness of the electoral process.

Then there is the ShoreBank scandal, which reinforced the idea that Chicago politicians exist to reward their political cronies and contributors. Our campaign succeeded in stopping a federal or state bailout of ShoreBank, but not an insider buyout by Wall Street firms under pressure from Schakowsky. The Inspector General of the FDIC is already investigating, and I intend to provide whatever assistance I can to the inquiry.

These ethical concerns remain, even after all the votes have been counted. In the days ahead, as we wind up our operation and prepare for the next challenge, I will continue to fight corruption, to stand up for the people of the 9th congressional district, and to be a voice in support of the new leadership our country has elected. We have not brought about a fresh start--not yet--yet we have given our country a fighting chance at renewal.

By way of full disclosure, I donated funds to the Pollak campaign. I met Joel Pollak and his lovely wife Julia in Chicago back in June, and was greatly impressed. As a Harvard law student, Joel had so impressed Professor Alan Dershowitz that Dershowitz endorsed his bid for Congress, the first time that Dershowitz has ever endorsed a Republican.

Just to show you what a classy guy Joel Pollak is, this morning he and Julia were up and out early to meet and greet commuters at the Park Ridge Metra train station, only this time not to solicit votes, but to thank the voters for their support, even in defeat. Joel and Julia have a great future ahead of them, despite the result of yesterday's election. I congratulate Joel for a spirited and ethical campaign.


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