Fitzgerald Responds to Appearing on List of Favors Asked of Ryan

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Krol Daily Herald Political Writer

U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald of Inverness has built his reputation as a reformer largely on his frequent criticism of fellow Republican George Ryan for the scandals that engulfed the former governor.

So it was somewhat surprising to see Fitzgerald's name turn up this week on an explosive list of political favors requested of Ryan during his tenure as secretary of state throughout the 1990s.

Fitzgerald is down on the favors list kept by Ryan's former chief of staff, Scott Fawell, as having asked for help with jobs or promotions for three suburban residents.

A Fitzgerald spokesman confirmed that while serving as a state senator for the Northwest suburbs, Fitzgerald asked Ryan's office to check into the unfair treatment a supporter of his was receiving as a worker at the Schaumburg driver's license facility.

"Only in the peculiar world of the secretary of state is every contact to the office viewed as a political chit," Fitzgerald spokesman Brian Stoller said.

The favors list came to light Monday at Fawell's trial on federal charges that he turned the secretary of state's office into a cesspool of corruption. The highly confidential list, which was kept under lock and key in Fawell's office, contained the names of hundreds of politicians and insiders who asked Ryan or his top people for aid.

Though most of the list is made up of politicians who supported Ryan even through his scandals, Fitzgerald is one of the few vocal Ryan critics to make it.

Fitzgerald is listed as asking a Ryan staff member to help Chris Bondi, who Fawell's list notes received a pay increase for working at the Schaumburg driver's facility. Stoller said Bondi is a longtime supporter and friend who was being treating unfairly at work and wanted a transfer to another office, which secretary of state records show she got.

"While the senator's concern was to help someone who was aggrieved, clearly George Ryan's office viewed it through a political prism," Stoller said.

Fitzgerald also is listed as contacting Ryan's office about Lou Benton. The list notes Benton was promoted to a customer service representative job at the Schaumburg office. …