As an experienced attorney, former Mayor of Burr Ridge, member of the Dupage County Board and Chairman of the Dupage 911 board, Gary Grasso says he has the litigation and public service experience to be the next Attorney General of Illinois. He says he’s not been bought and paid for by Governor Rauner as his opponent is and will fight to end the accepted, corrupt “Chicago Way.” Grasso joins Dan and Amy to discuss his campaign in the tight race for the GOP nomination of Attorney General.
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Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy, and we spent a lot of time talking about the governor's primary; Ives versus Rauner, but there's other statewide primary elections on the Republican side that we should take note of as well. We've spoken with Erika Harold before on this show, she is a candidate for Attorney General in the Republican primary, where you've got about...I don't know...EIGHT candidates on the Democrat side, including former Governor Pat Quinn... Jacobson: And that's gonna be a tight race... Proft: Yeah, it could be interesting. Especially if Quinn's the nominee. Jacobson: Yeah, do you think Quinn will get it? Proft: You know, residual name ID and good will on the Democrat side...I think Quinn would be the favorite. I could see Raul winning, but I think Quinn is the favorite, in the closing days we'll see. And also, some recent polling has the Republican contest for the Attorney General nomination quite close as well, we're basically a statistical dead heat. Erika Harold is one candidate, the gentleman who joins us now is the other candidate. He's a DuPage County Board member, former mayor of Burridge, and attorney of course...Gary Grasso. Gary, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Grasso: Well, thank you! Good morning, Dan. Good morning, Amy. Appreciate you having me on! Proft: No problem. So, the rationale for your candidacy? Why you would make a better GOP nominee than Miss Harold? Grasso: Well, it's all about qualifications and experience, and Dan, I've been a litigator, which is what the key role of the Attorney General is, a litigator for 40 years, almost. My opponent has very little actual litigation experience. I have tried cases, I've handled hundreds of cases in civil litigation, I've been at major firms downtown, have my own firm now. So that's key to why I'd be the better candidate. Also, I'm a former mayor, as you said, I'm also the Chairman of the 9-1-1 Board in DuPage County. I have extensive public service, and a record of achievement, so I also know how to run an office. Don't forget, the Attorney General is an office where it's probably the biggest, the second-biggest law firm in the state of Illinois, there's over 350 attorneys there, an equal number of staff. So, I have that experience too, my opponent, she hasn't really managed anything, she's...I don't even believe a partner in her own law firm. So, you have to look at my qualifications. And you know, I could have left the state, I could have been one of those outmigrators...I'm going to be here to fight for the people of Illinois. I'm the right guy with the right experience to go after the Cook County Democrat political system, and that's going to be my number one priority, fighting public corruption. Proft: Well, let me just press in the experience thing a bit, because as Oscar Wilde famously observed, "Experience is what we call our failures." You know, we...I think there's too much deference to experience in this state, which is why we keep putting the same people in the same office. "Well, what's their qualification?" "I've been here!" Well, that's not much of a qualification, performance is the qualification. So just speaking to all of those positions you've held, and all of those posts that you've...where you've been in a leadership position, tell us a bit about accomplishments, performance, that would translate to the Attorney General's office. Grasso: Right, so on the litigation side I've been very successful in my practice, Dan, I've been successful in my cases representing various clients. Of course like anybody else, as you say, various part of that is that you don't always win every case, but you know from experience you get judgment, and that's what's really really important here. On the public service side, I've been a successful mayor! I helped with...well I got a lot of help from others...but I was the mayor in Burridge when we built the Village Centre in the worst economic times, at no true expense to the taxpayers. We built a new Police Department, privately financed. We brought in Loyola as what is one of their major out-campus facilities in Burridge. I was also able to get many public services and the bridge branded over I-55 to...for the benefit of our taxpayers in Burridge. Now, on the 9-1-1 Board, I have been the Chairman there, well we've consolidated down, so what have I done there? Well, with the help of a lot of other people also, prior to me and me personally, we have consolidated, I'm a big person about consolidating government, we have WAY too much government in this state, and we brought the 9-1-1 Board down from 22 Call Centers to 3. And in that period, we have saved the taxpayers 7 to 8 million dollars annually in DuPage and what have we done with that money? We have turned it into more technology, and better service. So when you look at my experience, and my accomplishments, that's exactly why I'm the better choice. Jacobson: Well, yeah you do sound like you give a new resume there, an accomplished career...but why do you WANT this job? Grasso: Well, I have...my wife and I will be married 40 years in May, we have six grown children, three grandchildren, I've got a lot at stake in Illinois. And again, I could be...I could take the easy way out. I could be one of the out-migrators. Take..."Well, I don't want to pay these high property taxes anymore!", which are rampant across the entire state of Illinois. The equity in people's homes have been diminished because of the leadership...that would be Dan's point. We put in the same same people...who are those same same people? Mike Madigan, and his cronies. They have to go! Proft: Well, yeah...although you could argue that, and I would argue that, Republicans have done a lot of that same people business too, which is why the Republican Party is in the super-minority position despite the state being DESTROYED by those Chicago Democrats, so as Cook...this is sort of "a conspiracy of fools" of sorts, to borrow a David Foster Wallace... Grasso: *laughs* (Jacobson: Have you had any debates...) I'm not amongst them! Proft: *laughs* Ahh, okay. Yeah, okay, I concede the point, so... Grasso: I'm not amongst those people, Dan, and I'm gonna go after those people! We have accepted...we have accepted this, this, this way of doing business in Chicago, "Oh! It's okay. That's the Chicago way!", that's wrong! It's been wrong for the 30 years, 40 years that Madigan and his people...just look at the whole property tax assessment system. Look at what has been uncovered, as for the cronyism there. That's where they get their MONEY. That's where they get their POWER. We've got to break that! Jacobson: It's so weird, because Mike Madigan sits on a committee that sets tax codes and then he owns a company where he reduces...power for people's property taxes. It's just mind-blowing, and his daughter Lisa has been the Attorney General for 16 years! Grasso: Right! So that's a blatant conflict of interest. Look, lawyers are NOT supposed to put themselves in conflicts of interest, not have semblance of impropriety. We have accepted...we have accepted that the longest-serving speaker of any House in America and now the longest-serving Attorney General in Illinois history have been there, father and daughter, protecting each other. She ran on a platform in '02 on public corruption. She has done nothing! Give you another example. Sexual harassment issues that have just come up. Outrageous! Never, never tolerable anywhere. What does Mike Madigan do? "Oh, I'm gonna...I'm gonna appoint my own committee." What? You're going to appoint your OWN committee to investigate YOURSELF? Susan Mendoza, and other people that HE put in office. Where is Lisa Madigan on this? This is exactly where I will be, where the Attorney General should be. We can't tolerate this anymore! Proft: So, so when, when it's things like the General Assembly failing to appoint a Legislative Inspector General for three years, you're gonna...you're gonna be at the tip of the spear, making sure the legislators, making sure the public officials are abiding their responsibilities under the law and...number one, and number two, if they run afoul of the law, you're not going to wait for 219 South Dearborn, you're going to get involved and prosecute corruption? Grasso: I will, Dan! It's exactly...part of the Attorney General's job...I use the word ALL, A-L-L, it is to A-dvocate, it is to recommend remedial L-egislation...*laughs* which I could get into too...and of course, primarily to L-itigate, which I think I have the great experience. But, that's what you do, you advocate. You use the bully pulpit, you shine the bright light. You say what...Inspector General, do your job! Public Access Officer, do your job! And I will do that as Attorney General. And as a Republican, I can do that. And I'm the independent Republican in this. My opponent is fully on board with the governor. The governor just financed her campaign again! She keeps saying "Oh, oh, I'm not!" He just put a whole bunch of money in her campaign because this race is neck-and-neck. She is bought and owned by the governor. I am independent. I am putting my OWN money into this campaign. I could leave the state, but I want to be the next Attorney General. Proft: For more information on your campaign, people can go where, Gary? Grasso: GaryGrasso.com. Proft: G-R-A-S-S-O, GaryGrasso.com. Gary, a Republican candidate for Attorney General, thank you so much for joining us, good luck, appreciate it. Grasso: Dan, Amy, thank you for having me on the show, appreciate it.