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Mo Money Mo Political Problems

By Amy Hart in News on Mar 30, 2006 2:25PM

Chicagoist has always been quick to point out that money in politics is a necessary evil. The money isn’t going away anytime soon, but two of the evildoers are facing the music.

2006_03_michaeltristano.jpgFirst up is Michael Tristano, who used to serve as director of the House Republican Campaign Committee and chief of staff to Lee Daniels, the former Illinois Republican House leader and current representative from Elmhurst. Tristano has admitted to using state workers to work on political campaigns on state time and will face some jail time. Rich Miller has a copy of the plea agreement over at Capitol Fax. The big question is if anybody will be going down with Tristano. Daniels said he is not worried, but we think some state Republicans didn’t get much sleep last night.

Moving over to the national stage we find Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who turned screwing people over into an art form. The Abramoff scandal made ethics reform all the rage, and Illinois politicians were sure to get involved. Yesterday Abramoff was sentenced to nearly six years in prison and ordered to pay over $21 million in restitution on fraud charges.

2006_03_jackabramoff.jpgAbramoff was surely in the back of the US Senators’ minds as they passed restrictions on lobbying reform yesterday. The bill is largely decorative (it’s an election year!) and doesn’t appear to go all that far in bringing about real change. Perhaps its biggest accomplishment was bringing together freinemies John McCain and Barack Obama. Obama and McCain had previously had a public tiff over how to attack ethics reform, but they united in voting no on this reform package, saying it doesn’t go far enough.

We expect to hear more and more talk of reform as the general election draws near.

Image of Tristano via ABC