Lee Daniels’ Former Chief of Staff Off to Prison

Mike Tristano

Mike Tristano

House Republican Minority Leader (and once Speaker) Lee Daniels’ chief of staff Mike Tristano is enjoying his last days of freedom this year.

It’s off to Federal prison at the end of the month–but not for long.

Assuming good behavior—and there is no reason to believe Mike will not be compliant—he’ll be able to be with his family again in less than a year.

As I have written previously, Tristano was identified as “Official One” in Roger Stanley’s May 9, 2003, plea agreement.  At the time I could only narrow it down to Daniels or Tristano.  I was told that day that “Committee One” was the House Republican Campaign Committee.

Here’s what mail house owner Stanley and Tristano did in my 2000 primary campaign and that of McHenry state representative 1994 primary candidate Steve Verr:

At the direction of, and in in conjunction with a high ranking official (‘Official One’) of a particular campaign committee (‘Committee One’), and in conjunction with the 1995 and 2000 election cycles, Stanley arranged for negative direct mail pieces to be directed against certain political candidates who were opposed by Committee One.

In order to conceal that the true source and sponsor of the mailings was Committee One, Stanley assisted in recruited ‘straw’ and nominee officers to serve as the sponsors of the mailings. Further, in order to further conceal that Stanley was participating in the mailing process, Stanley caused postal forms relating to the mailings to be falsified and presented to postal officials.

Further, in one or more subsequent state proceedings relating to an attempt to determine the true source and sponsor of one of the mailings, Stanley and others participated in an effort to misrepresent the truth to state authorities regarding the true source and sponsor of the mailings, and thus further concealed Stanley and Committee One’s personal involvement in the mailings.

The guts of these charges were documented by Illinois State Board of Elections Campaign Disclosure Deputy Director Tony Morgando.

And, Morgando would not have gotten involved if I, in 2000, and Gerry Walsh, one of Verr’s allies, in 2004, had not filed complaints with the Board of Elections.  (I was told that in 2000, mine was the only probe for which the Elections Board authorized subpoena power.)

So, don’t let anyone tell you that state officials don’t investigate criminal behavior…thoroughly.

That it took U.S. Attorney Patrick Fritzgerald to pick up the ball and prosecute that criminal behavior probably says more about the weak state of Illinois statutes than anything else.

So, the big question is whether Tristano, a former boss of mine while I worked for the Department of Central Management Services during the mid-1980’s, acted on his own or not.

I have been told that after the 1996 primary, when I lost McHenry County under dubious circumstances…

(Pause. More votes were cast for the folks running for GOP precinct committeeman in McHenry County than were cast for me and my opponent–Al Jourdan-backed county board member John Brehmer–than were cast for me and Brehmer.

(Let’s see.  Brehmer spent $114,300, including $35,300 of in-kind help from people like the pro-abortion Personal PAC, a teachers’ union and Jourdan, while I spent $93,400.  Anyone think that with that kind of money being spent that the bottom of the ticket would total more votes than were cast for state representative?)

…Tristano looked at the results in Daniels’ office and said something like, “We could have taken him out, if we had gotten involved.”

That’s what a staffer at the meeting told me.

So, did Tristano act alone in authorizing the apparent laundering of money from the House Republican Campaign Committee through Roger Stanley’s business to pay for a negative mailing by the “Committee for EffectDaniels_at_microphone_in_tv_studioive Leadership?”

Pardon me, if I believe he did not.

After all, he acted on Daniels’ behalf in offering me the post of Deputy Auditor General (paying something like $110,000) the summer before in Lee’s Elmhurst office and, after I lost the primary, some deputy director post or maybe it was an assistant deputy director job (paying above $90,000) in Financial Institutions or whatever it was called then.

Tristano may have pulled the levers of power, but I don’t think he did significant things like try to take out the only state representative whose legislative service included time before his boss’s 1974 election without Daniels’ approval.

Tristano, in my opinion, was not the puppet master.  He was one of the puppets, albeit a well-paid one.

I have not referenced prior articles above.  If you would like to learn more, I invite you to click here.


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