Monday, February 27, 2006

The Unanswered Question: What’s Thompson Get Out of This?

I must say that if we had a good investigative press—or even a reasonably curious one—we would be deluged with questions concerning the multi-million-dollar pro-bono defense of George Ryan by Jim Thompson and Winston & Strawn. Thompson put his ace rain-maker, Dan Webb on the case and he’s been working virtually full-time for at least a year—without remuneration. Which means that the partners have had their pay trimmed proportionately. My question is: what’s Thompson’s interest in all this. Oh, I don’t mean the fact that he’s a good friend of George’s. I mean: what does George have on Thompson to have placed at his disposal the massive resources of a major law-firm, free?

Any good government idea that Jim Thompson is an idealist and wishes to pursue the unblemished nuances of the law ended during Big Jim’s 4-term reign as governor when he followed the lifestyle of Suleiman the Magnificent, building that taxpayer-funded god-awful glass menagerie called The Thompson Center, supporting each and every item of the liberal Democratic agenda, promising no new taxes and cynically reneging after election ending up with the strange court decision rendered by Seymour Simon’s son that ended any possibility of a recount on the election he narrowly won from Adlai Stevenson III, wherein even Jane Byrne told me that in the 5,000-vote margin, the election could easily have been stolen. Further, any view that Thompson is ethically unchallengeable must have died with the humiliating laxity he displayed as chief of the audit committee at Hollinger where he signed off on every Conrad Black wish, enjoying hugely as he did the schmoozing of Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle, his board-mates.

The latest episode with the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois testifying for George Ryan without notifying anyone that he owes a debt to Winston & Strawn was ignored by everybody except the Tribune’s John Kass. Frankly, Chicago’s media has performed much better on other things than it has on this. Ladies and gentlemen of the so-called independent media, this has looked like a massive impropriety for a long time. Unless you have been suffocated by the charm of Big Jimbo, if there isn’t an answer made to this million-dollar-plus donation of corporate in kind support Mother Teresa-like by Jim for George, there ought at least to be some recitation of it in the public prints. At the least there ought to be some estimate on how much Dan Webb would have charged plus the auxiliary legal services. Good God, questions should be asked, don’t you think?


  1. Tom,
    We've raised this several times in our pages; I did a column asking just this question, in fact. Not to say that we've asked it ENOUGH or gotten satisfactory answers, but we're not asleep at the switch on this question.
    Meanwhile, my e-mail to you just bounced back...I'm soliciting month-in-review postings. If you want to write one, post it here and let me know the link, I'll link to your posting from my site. Use the gmail address above.

  2. In Chicago, the term is "It is The Combine being the Combine".

    God only knows:

    1. Why Thompson is spending several million dollars on this corrupt human being.

    2. What level of dirt Ryan has on Thompson (and others in both political parties).

    Meanwhile, 99% of the media ignores these two issues and instead cheerlead the Ryan defense team (jncluding his wife's performance) and promote their stance that letting murderers who cut babies out of pregnant mothers and raped and murdered children off of death row via a blanket pardon was the greatest act in the history of mankind.

    The "Gag order" applies only to any negative press or questions regarding Ryan.

    Gidwitz had it right on your show - the prosecution should also be faulted for not challenging one of their (and Ryan's) own by bringing up the bankruptcy of the Southern District Federal Attorney and the fact Thompson is pursuing debts from all of his partners except the attorney who spoke on Ryan's behalf.

    This state needs Ryan convicted, stripped of his pension and put in jail for a serious term and than Fitzgerald and others need to go after Daley and the rest of the combine before our state can start to recover from the decades of corruption and criminal behavior of elected officials.