Newspaper: State Journal-Register

December 18, 2003

Senator and Ryan had their moments


WASHINGTON - There was never any love lost between Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., and former Republican Gov. George Ryan.

Fitzgerald publicly sparred with Ryan and criticized cronyism within the state government under Ryan's administration.

Reacting to Ryan's indictment Wednesday, Fitzgerald said he "fought with every fiber I had for the appointment of an independent U.S. attorney from outside the state and beyond the reaches of the normal power brokers in Illinois."

"Historically, the state's culture of corruption has seemed intractable," Fitzgerald said. "But with today's development perhaps Illinois turns a new corner."

The senator recommended that President Bush choose Patrick Fitzgerald, who's no relation, as U.S. attorney for northern Illinois because he wanted someone with no ties to Illinois' political power structure.

Sen. Fitzgerald and Ryan publicly fought on numerous occasions. The senator was the first to say that Ryan shouldn't run for a second term as governor. And he used a filibuster in the Senate to attack Ryan and demand that construction contracts for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum not go to politically connected contractors.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was more circumspect in responding to news of the indictment.

"For Gov. Ryan and his family, I'm sure this day has been difficult," Durbin said. "It is also a difficult day for all Illinoisans. Any time a public official is charged with misconduct in office, it calls into question the trust that people need to have in their government.

"Governor Ryan's fate is now in the hands of the judicial system. And George Ryan, like every American, is entitled to his day in court."