You know it was a big day for Federal prosecutors when the Chicago Tribune puts the corruption trial of former Governor George Ryan back on its front page as the lead story.
“AIDE: Ryan helped pal,” screams the five column headline.
“Court told ex-governor blocked changes in contract,” reads the subhead.
Tucked away on page 18 in the final column is former Crystal Lake resident Don Udstuen’s involvement in the securing a contract for American Decal, the firm that makes temporary license plates stickers wih a metallic strip.
While patronage chief for former Governor Richard Ogilvie, Udstuen was the boss of former long-time McHenry County Republican Central Committee Chairman Al Jourdan. He continued to advise Jourdan after Ogilvie was defeated in 1972. Udstuen also was a key advisor of Ryan while he was House Republican Leader and House Speaker, not to mention in his statewide races for Lt. Governor through Governor.
Udstuen’s day job was heading the medical malpractice insurance company of the Illinois State Medical Society. Despite the title, Udstuen also played a signficant lobbying role for the doctors. He also served on the Metra Board, having been appointed by the McHenry County Board.
The first indication that anything was amiss was Udstruen’s resignation from the Metra Board. He later admitted taking bribes from the direct mailer of choice for local Republicans, Roger Stanley, in exchange for help in obtaining Metra contracts. Udstuen implicated others, including Ryan’s co-defendant Larry Warner.
The Warner connection was the reason the story was on the front page. The Secretary of State’s employee in charge of the bid specifications–James Covert–told the jury that an “upset” Ryan had personally interfered in the bid specs, which the employee had made more competitive. The Ryan subordinate ended up re-writing them.
The witness said that Udstuen and Warner met with the Secretary of State’s employee and “told him what his department’s priorities should be,” according to the Tribune story.
Crystal Lake’s daily newspaper, the Northwest Herald, ran a two paragraph story on yesterday’s trial, but did not mention Udstuen.