Being “Wired” by the Feds in the Days of Governor Dan Walker

Today’s Chicago Sun-Times has an article about one of Governor Rod Blagojevich’s employees having been “wired” by Federal investigators.

That’s never happened to me, but it happened twice that I know of during Governor Dan Walker’s term in the 1970’s.

I often took the train to Springfield then. One trip an engineer of Indian ancestry recognized me and we started talking. It seems that he was the engineer that laid out the roads in Silver Lakes, a subdivision near Cary. Actually, the public hearing Dad and I attended on the project was probably my first political meeting in McHenry County. I was still in college.

The engineer had just been let go by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The Walker Adminstration had decided to outsource the planning of the road project that he had been working on. He was still working on the same project. He was just working for a private engineering firm now, as I remember it.

One might speculate that the engineering firm had contributed to Walker’s re-election campaign in order to get the work.

In any event, the engineer told how Walker’s main political guy had tried to shake him down for $1,000 in order to get his job back at IDOT.

When we got off the train, we walked over to the Springfield FBI office, he told his story and agreed to wear a wire in subsequent conversations with Walker’s advisor.

I talked with the engineer later on and, although he tried to talk or talked to the Walker guy 10-12 times, he never got anything incriminating on tape.

There is little doubt that IDOT was being used to raise campaign funds.

The Legislative Audit Commission even had a proposal from Auditor General Bob Cronson to look at the “Artistic and Profession Services” expenditures by IDOT. I looked at the resolution and observed that he was looking at the wrong things. I suggested looking at the relationship between campaign contributions and the issuance of the non-bid contracts. The Democrats on the LAC were not protective of Walker and went along. The finding was that there was a relationship.

The day the report was issued I called the U.S. Attorney and suggested that he take a look at the working papers. The FBI got them that very day, but never followed up…at least with me. Too bad they didn’t call. I could have pointed them in some useful directions, including a holdover guy who worked at IDOT.

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