Another Top Illinois GOP Official working against Republicans

By DOUG IBENDAHL • June 25, 2007


Recently we told you about Skip Saviano‘s incredible double-dealings with the Democrats. Saviano has snagged a senior post in our State Republican Party, thanks to an antiquated, closed system of selection that’s easily rigged.


But Saviano is hardly the only one of the 19 members of the State Central Committee who regularly aids and abets the Democrats.


As part of our continuing series on the small circle of people who run our State Republican Party, today we take a look at John “Jack” Dorgan.  Dorgan is the Republican State Central Committeeman for the 9th U.S. Congressional District.


By getting to know the people currently running our State Party you can better understand why Republicans are stuck in a rut when we go from one statewide disaster to the next. You will also see how dishonest and destructive the people are who still spread the lie that empowering Republicans with a vote will somehow result in “Democrats getting on our State Party.”


It should become crystal clear why most of the current 19 on the State Central Committee (the people who run our State Party) are terrified of the idea of regular Republicans like you having a vote again.


Among Dorgan’s main political allies are fellow GOP State Central Committeeman and State Representative Skip Saviano, and Democratic State Senator James DeLeo. Dorgan was a senior staffer under Lee Daniels (see the United States Government’s proffer in the George Ryan criminal corruption case for a description of Dorgan’s previous job, according to the U.S. Attorney). 


Dorgan is currently a Trustee for the Village of Rosemont. He was also chief political strategist for the late Rosemont Mayor Don Stephens. The taint of alleged organized crime has sullied the reputation of the Village of Rosemont and questions followed Don Stephens to his passing last month. Dorgan remains a close personal ally of Bradley Stephens, the late Mayor’s son, who was recently named as his father’s successor.


Dorgan co-owns one of Springfield’s most prominent lobbying firms – Dorgan-McPike & Associates. His partner is Jim McPike, a former Democratic House Majority Leader. 


Among Dorgan’s lobbying clients are: 


Ameren, which provides electricity to Metro-East and much of Central and Southern Illinois, is currently at the center of our state budget controversy. In January a nearly 10-year freeze on electricity rates expired, and many downstate residents served by Ameren have seen their electric bills nearly double. Illinois lawmakers have been scrambling to work out some sort of electricity rate relief. As a registered lobbyist for Ameren, Dorgan is of course on the corporation’s side.


Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, which is run by political powerhouse William Cellini. The organization’s Director of Engineering and Research is Marvin Traylor, a lobbyist for Springfield Consulting Group, which is owned by Bob Kjellander. Federal prosecutors have tagged Cellini as Individual A and Kjellander as Individual K, in the ongoing criminal corruption probe known as “Operation Board Games”. 


Health Professionals Ltd., a contractor that provides prison health care services, received over $43.9 million in 2006 under a state prison contract. Health Professionals is owned by Dr. Stephen Cullinan and his wife, Dr. Theresa Falcon-Cullinan. Stephen Cullinan is among eighty-five investors in the controversial President Abraham Lincoln Hotel deal in Springfield. The hotel investment group, led by William Cellini, took out a $15.5 million state construction loan in the early 1980’s, but the balance of that loan which has ballooned to more than $24.8 million remains unpaid.


Penn National Gaming Inc. owns and/or operates casinos, racetracks and wagering facilities in eight states and Canada. In 2005, Penn National acquired Argosy Gaming Company for $2.2 billion in cash. Argosy’s lobbyists were Dorgan-McPike.  Argosy’s Chairman was William Cellini. That merger made Penn National the third-largest casino operator in the United States. The Illinois Gaming Board approved the merger, but as a condition, Penn National had to agree to divest the Argosy Casino-Alton and the Empress Casino Joliet within fifteen months of completing the transaction. In 2006, the Illinois Gaming Board withdrew their requirement for Penn National to sell the Alton casino. Last month, Penn asked the Illinois Gaming Board to drop its Empress Casino sale mandate.


Dorgan’s other lobbying clients include AT & T (and its affiliates); ConocoPhillips; Swisher International, Inc.; Illinois Licensed Beverage Association; Illinois Hospital Association; Illinois Construction Industry Committee; and the Regional Transportation Authority


Below is just a sample of Dorgan’s contributions to Democrats, both personally and through his lobbying firm, Dorgan-McPike. 


It is important to note that Dorgan’s lobbying partner has his own political action committee, JJM PAC, which that Democrat uses to make significant political contributions. Dorgan does not have a separate political action committee, and instead his lobbying firm just makes significant contributions directly to Democrats.


Dorgan contributed $15,500 to Rod Blagojevich – $500 through a personal contribution on July 31, 2002, and $15,000 through his lobbying firm between August 2003 and September 2006.


Dorgan did NOT contribute to Blagojevich’s Republican challenger, Jim Ryan. 


Speaker of the House Michael Madigan received $2,200 from Dorgan’s lobbying firm between April 2000 and April 2001.


Lisa Madigan received $2,000 from Dorgan’s lobbying firm on July 14, 2000.  


On March 24, 2000, Dorgan contributed $500 to Chicago Democratic Alderman Patrick Levar. Levar is the political protégé of Democratic powerhouse Tom Lyons and a staunch supporter of Mayor Richard Daley. In 2000, Levar was an invited guest at a Republican event in Rosemont.  Levar’s Republican challenger was not invited. One Republican who attended the event stated, “I was horrified. At a Republican event we were pushing the candidacy of a Democrat and didn’t even have the Republican candidate at the event – a Republican event.” And earlier this year, Republicans had an opportunity to work together to oust Levar by backing one of his three opponents. Instead, five “Republican” elected officials shamelessly signed a letter in support of Levar


Dorgan’s lobbying firm contributed $500 on April 21, 2005, to former Democratic State Representative Lovana “Lou” Jones


State Senate President Emil Jones received two contributions from Dorgan’s lobbying firm totaling $1,500, one in June 2002, and the other in December 2005.


Democratic State Representative Kevin Joyce received two contributions from Dorgan’s lobbying firm – one on July 9, 2003, and the other on October 18, 2006, for a total of $700. 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. 


Bob Bugielski, former Democratic State Representative, received two contributions one in September 2000 and one in June 2001 from Dorgan’s lobbying firm totaling $400. 


President of Franklin Park Daniel Pritchett has received three contributions from Dorgan’s lobbying firm between January 2001 and January 2007 totaling $1,450. Among the numerous controversies surrounding Pritchett’s term as village President is his “working relationship” with alleged mob-connected players such as Nick Boscarino, Joseph and Vito Salamone, and John “No Nose” DiFronzo. Dorgan is the lobbyist for Franklin Park.


Dorgan’s lobbying firm contributed $500 on June 26, 2003, to Democratic State Senator Don Harmon.   


On June 20, 2003, Dorgan’s lobbying firm contributed $500 to Democratic State Senator James DeLeo. In 2006, Dorgan teamed up with Saviano (a former legislative aide to DeLeo) and Republican State Representative Michael McAuliffe to remove a Republican challenger from the ballot to allow their good friend DeLeo to run unopposed. 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. 


Dorgan’s lobbying firm contributed $250 on July 28, 2004, to Judge Gordon Maag.  Maag ran against Republican Judge Lloyd Karmeier for a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court. We can find no evidence that Dorgan contributed to Karmeier.


On October 18, 2000, Dorgan’s lobbying firm donated $250 to Democratic State Representative Robert Molaro. In 2000, Molaro ran against Republican Michael DeRoss. Molaro has been an avid proponent of expanding gaming in Illinois, including the addition of at least three new casinos.


A lot of Republicans have been wondering why in the world we’re still stuck with a State GOP Chairman like Andy McKenna, Jr. – an ineffective leader who is now working on his latest disaster sequel, and a guy who has also given thousands of dollars to liberal Democrats over the years. It’s very simple. Remember it’s only that small group of 19 (including Dorgan) on the State Central Committee who selects the State GOP Chairman – and those 19 of course viciously oppose being accountable to Republicans in a real election.


Our State Party’s dysfunction is simply the result of birds of a feather flocking together.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.


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