Tuesday, November 15, 2005

OP ED: Governor Ryan: The $10 million baby.

Illinois Governor George Ryan and his crew were bully politicians with a well known penchant for ruthlessly destroying the lives of the disfavored, while shamelessly enriching the lives of a rather sleazy band of insiders. Their lack of principle, absence of ethics and contempt for the public good have been established beyond any question. The only issue to be resolved is if their skullduggery rose to the level of punishable crime. In some cases, even that has been proven.

Now, we come to learn that this once powerful ne’er-do-good enjoys the pro bono (for the “public good?”) services of a major law firm at the expense of the partner’s profits, and the many clients who will have to make up some of the loss. Ryan already has consumed more than $10 million dollars in free legal services from Winston and Strawn, and the final figure is expected to be double that – not including appeals, if he is convicted. In the meantime, a lot of honorable citizens of modest means and minimal clout will find it impossible to be represented by lawyers willing to do pro bono work on their behalf.

Ryan’s attorney thinks the jury should know of his law firm's generosity, least they think the former governor has a stash of cash. The Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer wisely suggests that to give that information to the jury is to beg the question, “why?” Good question.

It will be interesting to see if the Internal Revenue Service also will give the former governor a financial gift by not seeking the taxes due on the Winston and Strawn donation of services. For commoners, the provision of such services is a taxable event. But, that is another potential news story. But, maybe the press will also give Ryan the professional courtesy of not inquiring. No end to the potential gift list.

Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Clause – even for naughty old men.

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