(Chicago, IL) — October 18, 2010. State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) faced last night an onslaught of ethics criticism from Governor Pat Quinn over controversial votes that Brady had cast relating to a downstate housing development project that potentially could have benefited his home building business.
At an Illinois governor debate hosted by WBEZ Chicago Public Radio at Elmhurst College, Quinn relentlessly pushed Brady on a May 22, 2010 Chicago Tribune story that Brady sough to develop 300-home subdivision, called Prairie Creek in Champaign, to leverage a new I-57 interchange which the state announced in 2002 that it intended to build.
In 2003, the state legislature gave the local government authority to take land for sewers along Curtis Road east of Brady’s property. A final vote to enact the law occurred Nov. 4, as Brady was securing options on the land he planned to develop. He voted for it.
Three years later, when the legislature re-authorized the sewer plans, well after Brady began acquiring the land, he again voted in favor of the measure. In 2007, Brady also voted for similar legislation allowing Champaign and other local governments to seize property to build their share of the interchange.
Although the actions would help move the interchange project along, and affect the value of his land, Brady did not recuse himself.
At last night’s debate, Brady said, ““You know well, governor, that I did not vote and never have knowingly voted on a conflict of interest,” he said.
However, Quinn, who is a lawyer, noted the word “knowingly” is “what people say when they’re going to court and they have to defend themselves in a criminal trial.”
Typically, questionable land deals are complicated business arrangements that leave no smoking gun and they confuse voters with their complexity, which smothers spontaneous voter outrage. However, Illinois voters are likely more hyper-sensitive these days to ethics questions hovering over potential governors given their buyers’ remorse over ex-Governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.
Brady is going to need a better answer, especially if he wins, than: “As a citizen legislator, I’ve cast thousands of votes,” Brady said, saying that Quinn should “stick to the issues.” That’s a dodge.
Ryan and Blagojevich dodged. Look what it got them.