This morning, the fellas at the Crossblog drew my attention to this Daily Herald story about Joe Birkett possibly running for Illinois governor.
Chris Rhodes said, "I think he'd be a great candidate."
"I must be confused," I thought to myself, "This must be like the George/Jim/Jack Ryan name-thing. It's gotta be a different Joe Birkett."
Nope, same Joe Birkett, DuPage County State's Attorney.
- The same Joe Birkett that accepted a $10,000 loan -- for his failed attorney general campaign -- from a sitting DuPage county judge.
- The same Joe Birkett that received more than $50,000 in campaign contributions and another $110, 000 in loans from criminal defense attorneys and firms that cut plea bargains with his office.
- The same Joe Birkett that struck a deal -- no prison, just time served and probation -- with the attorney of a man whose wife was hospitalized with second-degree burns after he repeatedly threw her into a fire. The attorney's firm had donated $8,300 to Birkett since 1998.
- The same Joe Birkett that was chief of the major crimes unit in the office of the DuPage County State's Attorney from 1985 to 1986, deputy chief of the criminal division from 1986 to 1991 and chief of the criminal division from 1991 to 1996. During Birkett's watch, Rolando Cruz was twice tried and convicted for the 1983 rape and murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico. A third trial ended in acquittal after DNA evidence proved that Cruz was innocent and pointed to another man, Brian Dugan, who was already serving life in prison for a similar murder. Dugan admitted to killing Nicarico, but Birkett -- now DuPage County State's Attorney -- has taken no steps to prosecute the confessed killer.
I agree with Rhodes, Joe Birkett would be a great Republican candidate for governor.
The opportunity to vote against Birkett would allow even Blagorgeous' harshest Democratic critics to pull the lever for him with a clear conscience.