By DOUG IBENDAHL • June 12, 2007
This is an article you’ll likely want to forward to every Republican you know. The public record described here will help every Illinois Republican better understand why our State Party remains dead in the water.
Utilizing the campaign disclosure reports filed with the Illinois Board of Elections and available online, we have detailed the shocking relationship a senior State GOP official maintains with the Democratic Party.
That “Republican” official is Skip Saviano of Elmwood Park (located just outside of Chicago). Why Saviano even bothers to keep an “R” by his name is a question only he can answer.
As you’ll see in the presentation below, over $100,000 in campaign cash has been transferred in recent years between Saviano’s political committee and various Democratic politicians and organizations. And of course Saviano not only regularly gives money to and receives money from Democrats – he typically supports the same agenda in the Springfield General Assembly as the most liberal Chicago Democrats.
You’ll also note that Saviano’s relationships are with some of the dirtiest and most ethically-challenged Chicago Democrats out there. We’re talking Party betrayal on an unprecedented scale.
Saviano is officially listed as a “Republican” State Representative. But not only that, he’s one of House Minority Leader Tom Cross‘ top lieutenants. In fact Saviano is Chairman of the PAC that serves as Cross’ principle political fundraising arm – the House Republican Organization.
But here’s an even bigger problem, Saviano is not only a public official – he’s also one of the 19 members of our State Party’s Central Committee! And in that post he “represents” all the Republicans in an entire U.S. Congressional District!
Saviano is one of the key players running our State Republican Party. It’s Skip Saviano and a tiny handful of others who give Party Chairman Andy McKenna, Jr. his marching orders.
It’s easy to see why this “leader” doesn’t want to face Republican voters in a real election for his position in our State Party. Recall that it was Saviano (along with Tom Cross) who in 2005 refused to even allow a floor vote in the State House on a good bill that would have restored the right of ALL Illinois Republicans to directly choose their own representative at the State Party.
McKenna, Cross and others who have spread the lie that direct elections would allow Democrats to get posts on our State Central Committee, should be ashamed. They are completely discredited. The reality is that it’s our State GOP’s current structure that has allowed the Chicago Democrats to infiltrate and undermine our once proud Grand Old Party. The analysis below is definitive proof.
Here’s one final important point to keep in mind. Skip Saviano of course generally doesn’t contribute his own personal cash to Democrats (or to Republicans for that matter). In the report below, “Saviano” refers to the political committee he controls, “Friends of Saviano.” Someone who thinks he or she is donating to a “Republican” – may have no idea that contribution is ripe to be passed along to one of Skip’s Democrat pals. Like most politicians, when Saviano contributes money, he’s passing along contributions others have given his committee.
We provide the following analysis as a public service to Illinois Republicans. We think you will agree with us that our State Party does not deserve your financial support until fundamental reforms are made.
What follows is just a sample of Saviano’s financial ties to the Democrats. All of the details below can be verified via the Illinois Board of Elections website which can be found here.
From March 2001 through September 2002, Saviano contributed $2,000 to Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Saviano contributed $5,000 to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley on January 16, 2007.
33rd Ward Democratic Organization – political action committee of Democratic Alderman Richard Mell, father-in-law of Gov. Rod Blagojevich – received $675 from Saviano between August 2001 and June 2005.
Saviano made two contributions to Speaker of the House Mike Madigan totaling $3,200 in September and October 2000.
Saviano contributed $200 to the Democratic Party of Leyden Township on October 20, 2004.
Tim Drea received a $500 contribution from Saviano on March 31, 2007, for his campaign for Village of Justice Trustee. Drea is a former staffer for Senate President Emil Jones and was a Delegate to the 2000 Democratic National Convention. Currently, he serves as the legislative and political director of Local 881 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Earlier this year, Drea was elected secretary-treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO, an organization at odds with Republicans.
Saviano contributed $250 in September 2003 to the Democratic Party of Oak Park.
John Cullerton, Democratic State Senator, received $150 from Saviano in October 1998.
Saviano contributed $400 to former Democratic State Representative Lovana “Lou” Jones between February 2001 and March 2002.
Between October 2004 and November 2005, Secretary of State Jesse White received three contributions totaling $7,500 from Saviano.
Saviano made four contributions totaling $2,200 to Ronald Serpico, former Democratic Mayor of Melrose Park, between February 1999 and May 2004. In turn, Saviano received six contributions totaling $2,100 between June 1995 and June 2001 from Serpico. While Mayor, Serpico received much criticism for naming a field in Melrose Park after his father, a convicted felon with alleged mob ties. Serpico was also widely criticized when he awarded $100,000 in village contracts to a disbarred attorney, Anthony Bruno.
Bob Bugielski, former Democratic State Representative, received two contributions from Saviano totaling $500 in March 1998 and August 2000.
Saviano contributed $300 on June 24, 2003 to Democratic State Representative Kevin Joyce. Kevin is the son of former Democratic State Senator Jeremiah Joyce. The Joyce Family is a powerful Democratic force on Chicago’s Southwest side. In 2002, Joyce defeated Republican Anne Zickus and was challenged in 2004 by Republican Richard Madonia.
Edgar Lopez, former Democratic State Representative, received a $250 contribution from Saviano in November 2000.
Eugene Moore, the Democrat Cook County Recorder of Deeds, received two contributions from Saviano between September 1998 and August 2000 totaling $500. Moore is a former Democratic State Representative, and currently serves as Democratic Committeeman for Proviso Township.
Between April 2000 and August 2004, Democratic Water Reclamation District Commissioner Terrence O’Brien received four contribution totaling $1,050 from Saviano.
Saviano made four contributions to Democratic Chicago Alderman William Banks totaling $1,500 from March 2001 and February 2007. In turn, William Banks contributed twice to Saviano totaling $750 – once in January 2004 and the other in June 2005. Banks and fellow Democratic Alderman Richard Mell (Rod Blagojevich’s father-in-law), are considered the two most powerful ward bosses in Chicago.
36th Democratic Ward Organization – political action committee of Democratic Alderman William Banks – contributed $450 to Saviano between June 2003 and October 2004.
Between June 1996 and June 2004, Saviano received eight contributions totaling $2,150 from Samuel Banks – brother of William Banks and father-in-law of Democratic State Representative John Fritchey.
James M. Houlihan, Democratic Cook County Assessor, received two contributions totaling $2,000 from Saviano, one on June 24, 1999, and another on June 28, 2000.
Equality Illinois, the state’s leading homosexual lobby, led the opposition to the Protect Marriage Illinois (PMI) petition drive last year. Saviano gave $500 to Equality Illinois on November 14, 2006. That contribution was received shortly after the announcement Illinoisans would not get the opportunity to vote on the non-binding ballot referendum in 2006. Saviano also gave the homosexual advocacy group $200 in 2002, and $350 in 2003.
Saviano contributed $1,050 to the Coalition for Better Government – the political army of powerful Democratic elected officials, such as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley – between July 2003 and February 2007. In turn, the Coalition for Better Government made seven contributions to Saviano totaling $1,500 between February 2000 and October 2006. Ron Calicchio, Chairman of the Coalition for Better Government, is a clout-heavy City of Chicago supervisor. Also closely associated with the group is John “Quarters” Boyle, who got his nickname for stealing millions of dollars in tollway change. After serving time for his tollway conviction, Boyle returned to Chicago and got another job with the City of Chicago where he routinely shook down trucking companies for bribes to get them into the city’s scandal-plagued Hired Truck Program. Boyle was sentenced to a seven-year stint in federal prison for that scam. Dominic Longo, a Chicago Democrat political operative who has a felony conviction for vote fraud, currently serves as the Treasurer of the Coalition for Better Government.
President of Franklin Park Daniel Pritchett has received nine contributions from Saviano between December 1999 and January 2007 totaling $4,500. Pritchett gave six contributions totaling $2,150 to Saviano between July 1999 and July 2005. Among the many controversies surrounding Pritchett’s term as President is his “working relationship” with alleged mob-connected players such as, Nick Boscarino, Joseph and Vito Salamone and John “No Nose” DiFronzo.
Terry Gabinski, Democratic 32nd Ward Committeeman, contributed $500 to Saviano on February 10, 2005. Gabinski, who previously served as Democratic Alderman for the 32nd Ward, was the political protégé of former Congressman and convicted felon Dan Rostenkowski. Gabinski remains a staunch ally of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
Democratic State Senator Don Harmon made two contributions to Saviano – one in June 2003 and the other in July 2005 – totaling $800. Saviano contributed $300 on December 12, 2001, to Harmon, one of the most liberal Democrats in the State Senate. Harmon and Saviano even share a district office. In 2002, Saviano helped his Democratic friend by keeping a Republican off the ballot and allowing Harmon to run opposed. In last year’s election cycle, Saviano not only worked against a solid Republican challenger, but campaigned on Harmon’s behalf. [The photo accompanying this article was taken at a local parade last year as Saviano and Harmon campaigned together.]
On June 11, 2003, Saviano received $300 from Democratic State Senator James DeLeo. Saviano contributed $200 to DeLeo on March 27, 2003. DeLeo is an old-school Chicago Democrat, complete with an indictment and guilty plea. In 1989 as a then State Representative, DeLeo was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly taking bribes while working for the Cook County Circuit Clerk during the “Operation Greylord” investigation into judicial corruption. Saviano, a former legislative aide to DeLeo, recently teamed up with Republican State Representative Michael McAuliffe and fellow State Central Committeeman Jack Dorgan to remove a Republican challenger from the ballot to allow their good friend DeLeo to run unopposed.
Al Ronan, lobbyist and former Democratic State Representative, contributed $300 to Saviano on May 14, 2001. Ronan’s lobbying firm, Ronan & Potts, also made three contributions to Saviano between February 1995 and August 1997 totaling $1,400. Ronan & Potts pled guilty in 2004 to taking part in a scheme to rig a consulting contract awarded in 2001 to oversee an $800 million expansion at McCormick Place.
Between February 2000 and February 2003, Saviano received six contributions totaling $2,550 from Near North Insurance. Near North Insurance was founded by George Dunne, former Cook County Democratic Organization Chairman and one of the most influential figures in the Chicago Democratic Machine. Dunne eventually sold the company to Michael Segal who in 2002 was convicted of looting about $35 million from customer accounts, eventually leading to the collapse of Near North.
Constantine Taddeo, former Mayor of Melrose Park, contributed $1,100 to Saviano between September 1995 and September 1997. In August 1999, Taddeo entered a guilty plea in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and was sentenced to a 27-month prison term. Taddeo admitted that, as Mayor of Melrose Park, he had appointed Nicholas Spina to the position of village attorney from 1988 to 1994 in exchange for cash payments from Spina.
Between March 1995 and February 2000, Saviano received five contributions totaling $2,900 from Democratic Cook County Board Commissioner Larry Suffredin.
Gabe Lopez, former aide to Michael Madigan, contributed three times to Saviano between November 9, 2000 and October 2006 totaling $950. Lopez served as Bill Clinton’s Illinois Deputy Campaign Manager in 1992, and earned $60,000 annually as a lobbyist for Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown. Lopez is currently a political consultant to Democratic officials and candidates.
Between March 1996 and February 2000, JJM PAC gave four contributions to Saviano totaling $2,000. According to filings with the Illinois Board of Elections, JJM PAC’s purpose is “to support Democratic candidates on the state and local level.” Jim McPike, Chairman of JJM PAC, is a former Democratic State Representative and former Majority Leader of the Illinois House of Representatives.
Democratic 31st Chicago Ward Committeeman Joseph Berrios contributed $1,000 to Saviano in 2005.
Between July 1994 and September 2006, D&P Construction and JKS Ventures contributed thirty-six times to Saviano in an aggregate amount of $21,100. Both D&P and JKS are owned by Josephine DiFronzo, sister-in-law of Chicago’s reputed mob boss John “No Nose” DiFronzo. D&P and JKS are also major donors to the Democratic Party.
Good Government Council, which contributed over $30,000 to Governor Rod Blagojevich, has also contributed $23,500 to Saviano since 1997. The Good Government Council is the political action committee for the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, and is run by one of the state’s most powerful insiders – William Cellini. Cellini has been tagged as Individual A by federal prosecutors in an ongoing criminal corruption probe known as “Operation Board Games” (Cellini’s fellow Springfield power broker, Bob Kjellander, has been identified as Individual K in that same investigation). James Bruner, Chairman of the Good Government Council, is also a trustee of the Teacher’s Retirement System. Bruner’s name also came up recently in connection with Operation Board Games. It was reported that Bruner refused to recuse himself from a vote to award $370 million in state pension cash to a real estate investment firm founded by Cellini.
Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.