The Rigged System

Cook County’s deeply corrupt property tax system, and its deeply corrupt Assessor Joe Berrios, made national news this week. The wealthy and politically-connected can buy property tax relief by hiring the right lawyer to appeal their tax bill. In fact, Assessor Joe Berrios encourages property owners to seek appeals. Pat Hughes explains in this week's Two Minute Warning.


There Is More Going On Than We've Been Led To Believe

Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz' IT Consultant with substantial access to Congressional computer files, was arrested at the airport as he was trying to flee the months-long gaze of the FBI. Is this story being under-reported by the press and under-amplified by Republicans? What does the arrest of Awan mean about the evidence investigators have? How has Andrew McCabe done as acting FBI Director? FBI Special Agent, Officer in the U.S. Army and former member of Congress representing Michigan's Eighth District, Mike Rogers joins Dan and Amy to discuss.


Is Corruption Worse Than You Think?

Ken Buck, Representative for the 4th Congressional District in Colorado and author of “Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think” joins Dan & Amy to detail how the corruption in DC is deeper than we think and thus draining the swamp is more challenging than we think. And they discuss Peggy Noonan's most recent article.


Will You Vote In The April 4th Local Elections?

Pension Spiking: Same Story, New Cast

Another Illinois politician is raising his salary to maximize his pension benefits before he retires. This time it's Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin. You've been warned.

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Edgar County Watchdogs Fight Corruption With 2 Qs: Who Says? What's The Proof?

Kirk Allen, co-founder, Edgar County Watchdogs, joined Dan & Amy to discuss how his organization is investigating and forcing out corrupt politicians - on both sides of the aisle. Allen said, “Often the attorneys representing the elected officials don’t read the laws or comply by them.” 

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Faisal Khan: Not Enough Being Done About Corruption In Chicago

Faisal Khan, CEO, Project Six, joined Dan & Amy to discuss the three ways Chicago can end corruption. Khan says, “sooner or later someone has to own the problem in Illinois”. Watch the video below to learn the three things that must happen. 

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Faisal Khan: 3 Ways Chicago Can Rid Itself Of Corruption

On this edition of Illinois Rising, Patrick Hughes, co-founder, Illinois Opportunity Project, fills in for Dan Proft. He is joined by Kathleen Murphy, Dir. of Communications, Illinois Opportunity Project. Together they discuss the upcoming AFSCME vote (largest state union). AFSCME claims that Governor Rauner has no rational or ethical leg to stand on with the war he is waging with his own employees. They also speak with Faisal Khan, CEO Project Six, on the three ways that Chicago can rid itself from corruption. Finally, they discuss Obama’s impact in Illinois and what they expect from President Trump in the first 100 Days.

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Exclusive: Dan Proft Interviews Pres. candidate Sen. Ted Cruz

Dan Proft's exclusive interview with Presidential Candidate, Senator Ted Cruz.

View full transcript

Dan Proft: So we had the opportunity to have your father on the show last week, and what a woo he is, but one of the things that he said that I want to get your take on – by the way, actually, we have suggested to him after talking to him for a few minutes, that perhaps the ticket should be Cruz and Cruz in the general election, and he was concerned with the 12th Amendment, which of course you’re familiar with; I assured him that if it was a Cruz – Cruz ticket in the general, then you could dispense with Texas’ electoral votes because you’d win by such a big margin. Ted Cruz: I will say, my dad is someone who will speak from the heart, and when you’ve seen freedom taken away firsthand like my dad has seen, it’s very real and it’s very personal to him, and it’s one of the real blessing, being the son of an immigrant who fled oppression in Cuba, that it makes you realize that our freedom is fragile and it’s really precious. Dan Proft: Now, one of the things that he said about you is that Ted learned from his parents to be a servant-leader. It seems to me in the debate on Thursday night, you sort of made mention to that implicitly when you talked about Donald Trump asking for people to pledge allegiance to him, and he had it reversed that this is a job audition where the President of the United States is a servant to the people, and I wonder of you could expand upon what your dad said, and that moment in the debate where you suggested Donald Trump had it reversed. Ted Cruz: Our rights don’t come from government, they come from God almighty, and sovereignty doesn’t reside in the ruler, but rather sovereignty resides in ‘we, the people’, and the Constitutions serves, as Jefferson put it, ‘chain to bind the mischief of government’, and I think there had been far too many political leaders in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, who lose sight of that; who believe that they are a ruling class; that’s much of the corruption we’ve seen that has resulted 19 trillion in debt, has resulted in the special interest getting fat at the people’s extent. And I believe we need a leader who recognizes that he works for the people. I approach this every day, asking for your support, working to earn your support, because we need a president who is fighting for the hard working tax payers each and every day rather than the entrenched interest in Washington. Dan Proft: One of the other in theory entertaining moments of the debate on Thursday night was your close, where you talked about the humble beginnings of a Ted Cruz and a Marco Rubio, and a John Kasich, and maybe not so much Donald Trump. It was a little bit of a Yakov Smirnoff what a country kind of close, but I wonder what you were trying to do there reminding the electorate about where you and Kasich and Rubio came from, as compared to Trump. Ted Cruz: Well, look, it is a remarkable thing that you’ve got three of the four people on the stage come from very humble beginnings; as I note it, there was the son of a bartender, the son of mailman, or in my case, the son of a dishwasher, and most of the countries on Earth, that would never be the case. Most of the countries on Earth, any potential leader of the country would have been born in the wealth and power of the aristocracy, and that’s simply the way most of the world works, and didn’t mean that as a ding particularly on Donald Trump; I was more making a quip that I hoped to get a laugh, but was also making the point about the unbelievable opportunity America provides, that anyone starting with nothing can do anything, and that really is unique in the world. Dan Proft: On the political front, were you disappointed at all that Dr. Ben Carson decided to fall in with Donald Trump instead of with you, particularly given your similar faith traditions in terms of appeal to evangelical voters? Ted Cruz: Sure, of course I was disappointed, and then Ben Carson is a good man, but everyone’s got to make their own decisions and their own judgments, and I suppose everyone makes those decisions for different reasons. What my focus really is, is on energizing and mobilizing conservatives, and on unifying Republicans. You mentioned at the outset of the show that at this point become effectively a two man race. There are some 65-70% of Republicans who recognize Donald Trump as not the best candidate to go head to head with Hilary Clinton; that if we nominate Donald Trump, Hilary wins; that she just wallops him in a general election, and if Hilary wins, we lose the Supreme Court for a generation, we lost the Bill of Rights, our kids are buried in debt for yet four more years, and jobs and economic opportunity stays illusive and hard to achieve, and so for those 65-70% of Republicans who recognize Donald Trump is not the best nominee, what we’re seeing is more and more uniting behind our campaign, because our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten Donald repeatedly; we beat him now 8 separate times in 8 states all over the country, and we’re the only campaign that can beat him; the other candidates have no mathematical possibility of becoming the Republican nominee, and I’ll tell you, Illinois in particular is very much a battle ground. Right now, today, Illinois is neck in neck between Donald Trump and me, and so you don’t want to see Donald Trump as the nominee. If you don’t want to see Hillary Clinton win the general election then I ask you to stand with us – even if you have been supporting someone else – the only way now to beat Donald Trump is for us to stand united, so I ask you to stand with us, and that is happening more and more all over the country. Dan Proft: Now, with respect to Donald Trump, do you think it is important to make the distinction between Donald Trump the candidate, and Donald Trump’s supporters, kind of Donald Trump the movement, if you will? Because if you are the nominee, regardless what happens on Tuesday, if you are the nominee and you run the table after Tuesday, when it’s all mano y mano race ostensibly, that you’re going to need those Trump voters that have come out and really jumped the Republican Primary turnout to record levels. Ted Cruz: Absolutely, and I’ve said from the beginning that I’ve brought a lot of people into the process, and that is good and beneficial, and the people who are supporting Donald, I understand why they are; they’re ticked off, they’re ticked off at Washington, they’re ticked off at politicians who keep lying to them, who keep making promises and doing the exact opposite of what they say when they go to Washington. And they’re fed up with the corruption of Washington – the bipartisan corruption – I agree with every bit of that sediment, and you’d better believe that I want every one of those voters showing up in November so that we can finally change the direction of this country, and now what I think a lot of those Trump supporters are realizing when they look at his record more closely is that if you’re fed up with the corruption in Washington, the answer is not to support Donald Trump, someone who has been enmeshed in that bipartisan corruption for 40 years; that Donald Trump is the system, Donald Trump is Washington, and big business, and if you’re fed up with that, the answer I believe is to go with the candidate who has demonstrated over and over again that he will and he has stood up not just to Democrats but to leaders in our own party. That’s what it’s going to take to stop the corruption – is a president who recognizes he works for the American people, for the hardworking taxpayer, not the Washington’s special interest, that Donald has been part of for the last 40 years supporting liberal democrats, and supporting establishment republicans; instead, we need a president that doesn’t stand for Washington, but stands with the American people. Dan Proft: One of the things that seems to me makes you a little bit different than the candidates in this field, past and present, is your willingness to talk about values. It’s funny to me, in Chicago here, you think New York values are bad. We listen to Rahm Emanuel, as I call him, tiny dancer, talk about Chicago values all the time. It seems like the left is very willing to talk about values – whatever their values are – and sometimes we, as conservatives, are afraid to speak in the vernacular of values in the public arena. Your nod, is it a recognition that maybe people out there are looking for something transcendental, maybe the most important thing to them isn’t just your marginal tax rate, it’s about kind of what binds us together as a people. Ted Cruz: I think that’s exactly right. That’s who we are as Americans, and one of the greatest lies that the media tries to sell is they try to tell conservatives that America doesn’t share our values; that America has become this left wing progressive utopia; and that’s just fundamentally false. This country is and remains a federal country. We remain a country that was built on free market principles, on constitutional liberties, and on Judeo-Christian values; that is what built America into the greatest country in the history of the world. Now the media and Hollywood and the political left tries to do everything they can to convince the American people we should be afraid of our values. We should be afraid to stand and defend lives, we should be afraid to defend marriage or religious liberty, and I don’t think that’s right. I think we can recognize that every life is a precious gift from God, and that every human being has constitutional rights that the government should be protecting, rather than violating, and I think those are common sense values that resonate across the heartland. Resonate across the state of Illinois, and resonate all across the country. Dan Proft: I want to get your response to one of the critiques, what we hear from callers supporting Donald Trump and other candidates from this show is, ‘Well, one of the critiques of Ted Cruz is he doesn’t get along with his colleagues, so is he going to get anything done?’ I had the opportunity to speak with Jim DeMint, President of the Heritage Foundation and former US Senator, the other day, and he made the point that when he was in the Senate, he didn’t always get along with leadership very much either because he wanted the Republican Party to stand for conservative values and follow principles and policies that flow from those values, and sometimes the leadership didn’t want to chart that course. It seems to me there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of politics that a lot of people in our movement have, and I wonder if you’d comment, and that is about likeability all the time, rather than the hard work of aligning interests, of building coalitions around different issues, and the coalitions maybe different with respect to different parts of a policy agenda; one is trying to pursue, but it’s not being Mr. Congeniality, or Mr. Popularity, it’s about aligning interests. Ted Cruz: Well, that’s right, but it’s even stronger than that, and Jim DeMint is a good example. Jim is a very good friend of mine, and he was an extraordinary senator, but when he was serving in the senate, he was despised; especially by leadership, they despised him. And it’s not that Jim is an unpleasant man – in fact he’s a very soft-spoken principled individual – but you have to remember, Washington, the career politicians in both parties, they have been sticking it to the American people year after year after year. It’s why we’re so angry, because they don’t keep their word and they don’t intend to keep their word. And what makes you ‘unlikeable’ in Washington is if you actually keep your word to the men and women who elected you. What Jim DeMint did and what I have done was simply go there and say ‘I’m going to do exactly what I said I would do’. I told, in my case, the people of Texas, ‘I’m going to fight with every breath in my body to stop the disaster that is Obama Care; I’m going to fight with every breath in my body to stop amnesty, which is taking jobs from millions of Americans; I’m going to fight to stop the death that’s bankrupting our kids and grandkids and I’m going to fight to defend the bill of rights and the second amendment of religious liberty.’ Now that by in large is most of what the Republican members of congress promised, but when they get to Washington, they break those promises, and if you keep those promises, that’s being unlikeable, that’s what they get mad at. It’s not treating people with anything less than civility or decorum or respect. You know, you look at the debate, the last several debates we saw Donald Trump and Marco Rubio yelling and insulting each other and making fun of each other’s body parts. I think that has no place in politics, and I certainly don’t respond to those insults in kind. I keep focus on substance, but the thing to remember, if someone is well liked in Washington, it’s because they’re going along with Washington selling you out, and to change it – you know someone else who was despised in Washington was Ronald Reagan – if you look at the Reagan revolution – remember, in 1976, Reagan had primaried Gerald Ford. Now you want to make Republican leadership loathe you, come within an inch of beating the incumbent Republican President in the primaries. They hated him! Now Reagan, likewise, he wasn’t mean about it, he didn’t insult people, but he said ‘We have to stand for something’. This is not a fraternal order, we need to actually defend shared principles!’, and they hated him for it, but what gave Reagan his strength is he didn’t rely on Washington – he took the case to the people, and that is very much the basis of our campaign as well. If we’re going to break the Washington cartel, it’s going to be the grass roots, and so my strength are millions of men and women across this country that are fed up with a Washington that doesn’t listen to us, that doesn’t protect our jobs, that doesn’t protect our interests, and that is selling our rights down the river. And the way we turn it around is just like the Reagan revolution, with a grassroots army from the people. Dan Proft: Yes, and I think we can all unify as a party around the idea that we appreciate your lack of interest in Donald Trump’s body parts. Before we let you go – I know you have a busy schedule, and a lot of states to check out before tomorrow’s elections, just a closing thought for Illinois voters. What’s the value proposition for President Ted Cruz? What’s he going to do in the first 100 days, so people know what they’re getting when they go to the polls in Illinois tomorrow and pull the lever for Ted Cruz? Ted Cruz: I think this election is about three things: it’s about jobs, it’s about freedom and it’s about security. My number one priority is jobs and economic growth. We have the lowest percentage of Americans working right now than any year since 1977, and the people I’m fighting for are the single moms that are right now waiting tables and working 2-3 part-time jobs, and you’ve had your hours forcibly reduced to 28-29 hours a week, because Obama Care kicks in at 30 hours a week. The people I’m fighting for are the truck drivers and steel workers and plumbers and mechanics. You know, the men and women with calluses on your hands, the union members who are just getting hammered right now; your wages haven’t gone up, and yet the costs of living keeps going up and up and up. The people I’m fighting for are the students who are coming out of school with loans up your eyeballs, wondering, are you going to get a job? What does the future hold for you? And the media tells us this is a new normal, we have to accept that! That is simply not the truth! If I’m elected president, we will repeal Obama Care, we’ll pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRF and we’ll lift back the regulations that are killing small businesses, and the effect of that, we’re going to see millions of high paying jobs, we’re going to see wages rising for everybody, and we’re going to see young people coming out of schools with 2-3-4-5 jobs opportunities. Secondly and critically, freedom; the Constitution and Bill of Rights hang in the balance. The Supreme Court hangs in the balance. Donald Trump has told you he will cut a deal with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer to arrive upon Antonin Scalia’s replacement. I am not going to compromise away your religious liberty. I’m not going to compromise away your Second Amendment. Instead, every justice I’ve put on the court will defend the Bill of Rights ferociously for your children and for mine. And then finally, security; we need a president who will stand by our friends and allies, who will stand with the nation of Israel – not be neutral – like Donald Trump has promised to be, but stand un-apologetically with Israel, and who will stand up and defeat our enemies, as president, I will rebuild the military just like Ronald Reagan did; we will rebuild the military so that it remains the mightiest fighting force on the face of the planet, and we will utterly destroy ISIS, we will defeat radical Islamic terrorism, and we’ll have a president that doesn’t undermine our fighting men and women. That doesn’t undermine our police officers and firefighters and search responders, but instead a presidents who stands with our soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines, who stands with our cops and our firefighters, and has their back. We can do all of that if we just go back to who we are, and that’s what this election is about. Illinois is a battleground. We are neck in neck with Donald Trump. I ask you to stand with us, and if we stand together, we’re going to win this nomination and we are going to win the general and bring back jobs and economic growth and prosperity to this nation once again.

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How would IL be different if Fmr. US Atty. Fred Foreman had been Gov.?

On this week's Against The Current (ATC), "Mr. Lake County" Fred Foreman sits down to discuss his stellar legal career (Lake County State's Attorney, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Chief Judge, 19th Judicial Circuit, Lake County) and the political career that could have been but was not. Foreman touches on past corruption in the judiciary and his role in rooting it out in Operations Greylord and Gambat.

Foreman also weighs in on federal prosecutors' responsibility to aid in eradicating the scourge of gang violence in Chicago--something he had a hand in with the El Rukn and Gangster Disciples street gangs.

Finally, Foreman offers a thoughtful reflection on how Illinois politics has changed since he rose to prominence three decades ago.

All of this and more with former US Attorney and Judge Fred Foreman on this edition of ATC.

View full transcript

Dan Proft: Thank you for joining us on another edition of Against the Current; coming to you from the Skyline Club, on top of the Old Republic building in downtown Chicago. Our guest on this installment of Against the Current is Judge Fred Foreman. Judge Foreman, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Fred Foreman: Good afternoon! Dan Proft: So, not just a judge, just a quick CV, because there’s so much here, so much history and texture and knowledge, but really a legal career that is unsurpassed in Illinois history, at least: Lake County State’s attorney for a decade; US attorney in the early 90’ – 90 to 93, if I got that right; Chief Judge, Lake County Circuit, 90th sub-circuit. Fred Foreman: 90th Judicial Circuit. Dan Proft: 90th Judicial Circuit, excuse me; and now, all the way back to private practice on a senior council. Fred Foreman: That and a grandfather. Dan Proft: Grandfather, I’ve reversed the order of importance, obviously, my bad. Fred Foreman: It’s been a very interesting and challenging career, and I’ve been blessed to have moved in and out of the public sector; I’ve spent a lot of time in private practice – both as a sole practitioner and a practicing attorney, and I’m back doing that now; so I’ve had both government service and service in the private sector. Dan Proft: So Lake County States, you were elected Lake County State’s attorney when you were a zygote; you were, right, 11 years old or something. Fred Foreman: I came in with the Reagan landslide in 1980 – I was 32 – one of the younger State’s attorneys, and very close...upset incumbent at that time in the office, and served three terms as State’s attorney, until I was tapped by President Bush to become the United State’s attorney for the Northern District. Dan Proft: And so, in the pantheon of fame, do US attorneys for the Northerner District up here in Chicago – Dan Webb and Antoine DeLuca, you, Patrick Fitzgerald, so many others, Noah Zack Fardon – one of the things I just want to get your perspective on at the outset is, being a State’s attorney, elected, it’s apolitical position in part, being an US attorney, you’re in Chicago, in the Northern District, there’s sort of a political culture up here in Chicago, in the state of Illinois, in addition to you being considered and thought highly of along the road for all kinds of other higher public offices, US Senate, even Governor, I wonder if you could give a little bit of perspective on how you think politics has changed from when you were State’s attorney, fresh newly admitted State’s attorney in Lake County in 1980 to where we find ourselves today with governor Rauner, and actually, guys you were familiar in 1980 – Mike Madigan and John Cullerton – because they were the general assembly then just as they are now; how you think the politics and the political culture in Chicago and Illinois has changed and maybe not changed. Fred Foreman: Well, I think, as I said, I came in with the Ronald Reagan revolution, and I was very active right away after my first term, and the National District Attorney Association, which took me to Washington and sort of caught the atomic fever out there, got to know attorney general Muse very well, and a lot of other people in the administration, became President of the National District Attorney Association, and so I testified on some of the confirmation hearings for Robert Bork and Anthony Kennedy. Dan Proft: Oh boy. That’s in the news all of a sudden, isn’t it? Fred Foreman: I’d say that with that experience, and of course, as United State’s Attorney I had to go through confirmation myself, but when I look back – the 1980 were certainly the golden years for the Republican Party in Illinois and in Lake County, the Collar Counties, because governor Thompson, a former US attorney was governor, most of the office holders we elected republicans, and that whole 10 year period and into the 90s were strong years for the Republican Party. Obviously, with the George Ryan era go on and then the last almost 10 years of the Democrat presidents in Springfield, things have changed a lot; governor Rauner was elected because he was considered to be an independent Republican, a different brand of Republican, much like was seen on the national level. You’re seen a businessman that says he’s going to come in, it’s not going to be business as usual; he doesn’t need political contributions because they’re self-made people, and he’s going to try and make some changes that I think they’re going to have to be implemented in order to correct these financial situation in Springfield. Dan Proft: With hind site being 20/20, do you look back at the 1980, as you say they’re kind of the salad years for the Republicans into the 90s, where there was control, even two year interregnum there in the House – 94: the Gingrich Revolution – and say, ‘Boy, it was great, it was to have governors, it was great to be in the majority, but we probably should have made some different policy choices that we made, because perhaps we sowed the seeds of the rise of democrats, even of the likes of Blagojevich and Quinn’, the same way that some are arguing that we have sown the seeds at the national level with republican leadership and congress for the rise of a Donald Trump. Fred Foreman: Well, one of the things that I did do politically also in the 80’ was I was the delegate to the Republican National Convention in 84 and in 1988, so I participated – I was elected for that congressional district, and participated in that whole process of selecting a president, and it was unique back then, because Ronald Reagan had those two terms, and he wasn’t supposed to be elected in the first place, because they felt that he was an actor, but he had been a governor. Dan Proft: Amiable don’ts. Fred Foreman: Yes, that’s what his opinion was, but the people liked him; he said things that people liked, and so, when it came time for him to finish his second term, another unique situation arose with vice president Bush. He would have been the first vice president elected after a two years term over republican president in years; there was something that was unique about that. I was a Bush delegate, a Bush quail, and I was able to participate in a process that put me in a position, at that time, to become the United State’s attorney, because those federal appointments, whether it’s the United State’s attorney or any of the other top federal appointments, are political appointments. It’s the way they’ve always been. Dan Proft: Right, and so thinking about – at the state level – the decisions of a governor Thompson, the decisions of a governor Edgar on some of the issues that bedevil us today, like our unfunded pension liabilities, and thinking about governor Edgar’s pension ramp in 94’; decisions that if you look back, and to say they may have seemed as good decisions at the time, or politically speeding decisions at the time, but the kind of compromises we were always told by the Chicago media we’re supposed to make, those compromises started to sow the seeds not over the public policy problems we faced, but also of Republicans finding themselves in the super minority in the general assembly, which is presented a particular challenge to governor Rauner, even after 50 years of Chicago democrat hegemony. Fred Foreman: I think back then times were good. Times were good during the Reagan years, and actually times were good during the Bill Clinton years in Washington too. At the same time, the Republicans were taking over with Newt Gingrich here in Illinois; we had a change in the House when Lee Daniels and his group came in too; so there was an opportunity to make those changes, but I don’t really recall people being so concerned about it back then; I felt that they felt that they. Dan Proft: Some people aren’t concerned about it today, that’s what I mean – slow learners. Fred Foreman: They didn’t appreciate how this was going to increase. In fact, when you talk about – for instance – the argument over the 3% COLA that was passed back during that Thompson administration – I can recall, and I’ve read a little bit about those debates, and you’re talking about a time when your CV’s were paying a 15%, and social security cost for living increases were like 5%, and I can remember then talking about, ‘Well, 5% seems to be a lot, let’s settle on 3%’, so I think there was some – at least they recognized that there were going to be some issues going forward. Dan Proft: And so, thinking about the politics, just a little bit more, part of the question that is asked sometimes – I have these conversations with the media types – who watches the watchman; who watches the watchman media? Who provides oversight of the media to make sure they’re not in the tank for one side or the other; they’re not trying to drive a particular point of view, while pretending to be objective scriveners; while the same thing can be said at the judiciary. The same thing – we talk a lot about the city of Chicago – Alderman who gets picked off for taking a $500 bribe, or even – in this state, unfortunately – governors who are doing all kinds of nefarious activities, and wound up in federal prison; but the judiciary… then you were involved in these seminal investigations and prosecution of some 90 corrupt public officials largely in the Cook County Judiciary – Operation Greylord, in the 80’; just distill that case, that prosecution a little bit, that operation and those prosecutions a little bit, and also – now fast forwarding almost 30 years – who watches the watchman today? Fred Foreman: Well, as States attorney in Lake County, I had several opportunities to be involved with the federal government joint investigations, so I learned how that process worked; I was aware of the Greylord investigation that started in 1981 – actually, the investigation started earlier than that, under the United State’s attorney Tom Sullivan in 79’ that was indicted when Dan Webb was US attorney in 81, and continued with other superseding indictments which went after most of the traffic division in Cook County State’s attorneys, or Cook County court system, but also went into the Chancellery Division and some in the Law Division, so that was the initial emphasis. Dan Proft: Judges taking bribes. Fred Foreman: Yes, and a large group of judges that were involved in it and a lot of them were political appointees; and many of them did not attend to their court duties and it was a mess, and everybody knew it was a mess, so it then lead to a subsequent investigation; you felt the ground like it would be a deterrent; it didn’t deter everybody in the subsequent investigation, which I was more involved within the tale with the Greylord, and that was Operation Gambit, which looked both at the Chancellery Division in Cook County, as well as the city council; involved was alderman Roti and senator Diako, and then the presiding judge of the Chancellery Division at that time, David Shields; there were other judged that were indicted, and the sentenceshere was that organized crime and particularly organized street crime – street gangs – the street cruise that were part of the traditional organized crime we’re involved in payoffs in the judicial system. Dan Proft: So you’re talking about the outfit combined with the big street gangs of the time, like the El Rukns. Fred Foreman: Right, the Minister Disciples, Vice Lords; basically the corporate structure gangs; different than many of the gangs we have now, which are more of an entrepreneurial gang out there, but the structure of those large gangs and organized crime was one much like successful corporations. Dan Proft: So all these judges go to jail, some aldermen go to jail, the outfits involved – the outfits today, 30 years later isn’t what it was in the 80’, at least by most people’s accounts. The first thing you said was most of these judges were political appointees. Well, it is the worst kept secret in Illinois politics that if you want a judgeship in Cook County Circuit Court you have to get the blessing of Mike Madigan or Ed Burke or both. Have we exchanged one form of undue influence for another? Fred Foreman: No, I think that the couple of changes that came out of the Solovy commission – Jerry Solovy from General Block – they realized that they wanted to compensate judges much like they did with the federal bench here in Chicago; they wanted to make sure that they can attract quality individuals so that they wouldn’t be necessarily coming out of a political system; they would be coming out of better firms, they would be in from law enforcement, and the Supreme Court has instituted now an education conference and really more of a merit selection, which actually is merit election, because the Supreme Court on a vacancy will make an appointment, and most of the vacancies that are filled are filled by associate judges, at the circuit level, that have been selected by circuit judges at the local level; so you have more of a merit selection; you’re hoping that you can balance the politics of the situation, because they are elected officers with the recommendations of the bar associations, and pretty comprehensive background investigations on the judges. Dan Proft: Now, the Tribune has been opining out of this for years; the merit selection for the circuit court, as opposed to ‘I go to my ballot on March 15th ‘, or Tuesday after the first Monday November, and I see 70 judges who’s names I never heard of, and they all happen to have Irish surnames, shockingly even today. Have this be some kind of panel of legal experts, those that know the judges, know their legal record, know their credentials, know their intellectual capacities, work ethic and those things, rather than leaving it up to the voters because it still provides for a bit of a thiefdom, a patronate thiefdom in the legal community for democrat power brokers like Madigan and Burke. Is that a good idea? This is a bit of an esoteric idea, but it turns out to be really important, particularly if you ever have to appear before a circuit court judge on a range of matter, is that a good idea or do you think that per grade lord there’s enough of a deturn effect, and some of the reforms you mentioned that had lasting impact, that that’s not necessary. Fred Foreman: I think there has been a deturn effect and I think that we have a better quality of judiciary, and I think that the Supreme Court has taken a position and has placed the emphasis on administration by chief judges, which I served as that if you have misconduct by a judge in your courthouse, if you don’t report it, then you’re responsible as well; so there is accountability and discipline, and I think – with the Judiciary Inquiry Board, with greater financial disclosure – that the judges have to file the very detailed forms once you’re on a financial disclosure, so I think there is more there, and I think that the bar associations have looked very closely and it ranked the judges based on their qualifications, so that you’re hoping to elect the most qualified judges, but I don’t think we’re going to have merit selection per se, like they would have in the federal bench; as long as it allows no change, you’re going to have hopefully merit election, and you’re going to have judges required – like the judges now – to go to train every two years, and to have their continuing legal education, and I think the Supreme Court’s done a pretty good job on having served as a member of the conference of the chief judges; I’d meet with the Supreme Court on a monthly basis; they dictated to the chief judges what they’d expect from them, as far as being the watchman on the local watch on the local circuit. Dan Proft: So the cliché about you get a judicial appointment, or you run for judge as a means to retire, is that unfair? Fred Foreman: Is what? Dan Proft: Is that unfair that you go to Madigan or Burke or you get a judicial appointment, you stand for election, you get elected to be a circuit court judge; that’s the means to retire and just enjoy the good life, and work from 1 to 1-15; is that an unfair caricature? Fred Foreman: I don’t think it is anymore. I don’t really think. I think there is more input by the various bar associations, and I think they’re still – obviously, since we have elections, you’re going to have people, whether it’s Cook County or the other counties that are going to be involved. I’m involved in mentoring and looking for good judicial candidates myself now. I’m very active still in judicial organizations to make sure that we do get quality people, and I think that for instance, in Lake County, where we have our first Hispanic Chief Judge up there right now that’s serving; we’ve had three women Chief Judges in Lake County, so I think it’s important to have the diversity; I think it’s important to go particularly they have the retention elections, because if the judge is not doing the job, then he has to stand before the voters in six years to be retained. Dan Proft: Now going back to something else you said about Greylord, about the influence of street gangs, and some of the corruption that occurred on the bench; do you think, fast forwarding to where we are now, with the level of violent crime in the city of Chicago, it isn’t as it was in the 80’, but that’s because crime has declined nationally in the last 30 years, but Chicago still higher murder/capita rate than New York and L.A combined. The El Rukns, the gangster disciples you mentioned, these were forerunners maybe to some of the Mexican drug cartels, or Colombian drug cartels, because as you would say, these would vertically integrate the corporations – for example, the Jeff Fort ran with the El Rukns. What’s the experience of prosecuting those criminal honor prizes, the street gangs that are responsible for so much violence on the west side of the city, or the south side of the city that is applicable today? What is it that the policy makers and political leaders today haven’t learned from what happened in the 80’ to stop the violence associated with these street gangs? Fred Foreman: Well, when I was United States attorney, there was a Department of Justice initiative called [Weedancy? 00:18:55], and what this initiative was – it sounds sort of a catchy title, but Weedancy would weed out the crime influences and then receded with positive influences, and there was a coordinated effort here in Chicago targeting the south side with the projects on the south side: Ida B. Wells, Robert Taylor Homes, right down by Comiskey Park, and there was a targeting area – we had major raids, helicopters, the Attorney General came in and I actually was on one of [Inaudible 00:19:31] attorney with alderman Bobby Rush; elevator opened, there was a drug deal going on right in our presence, and the community was involved; the community wanted these places cleaned out. Dan Proft: That’s an interesting point, let me just stop you there, because you get a part of it, and you see this in the presidential campaign right now, black liberation theologist like Cornel West talking about ‘I’m for Bernie Sanders because Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton passed the crime bill in the early 90s’, and it turns out, if you actually trace the history of stiffer laws for drug related crimes, like you go back to the Rockefeller years in New York, and it was the black community working with Nelson Rockefeller in New York; they wanded stiffer sentences, because they wanded those thugs, the street gang members, the drug traffickers, they wanded them out of their neighborhoods. There’s a bit of revisionist history about who supports getting street gangs and drug traffickers off their streets. It turns out that minority communities, the majority of law abiding minorities in some of these neighborhoods, they were the impedes for a lot of the stiffer penalties that were imposed by US attorneys like yourself. Fred Foreman: Well, and the other thing, I had the support of the Department of Justice, you know, with this program to come in, and we had the authority to go into these areas and to use the racketeering statutes; to work with local law enforcement. Also back then, Chicago PD, they were as tough as nails in these neighborhoods, and they had gang crimes people in there that talked with the community, got information from the community, and turned it over to the drug taskforces. It was coming in nationally. Drugs were coming into the country, and they were being filtered into the neighborhoods, but I had a very unique relationship with Mayor Daley; he and I had been State’s attorneys together. We knew each other well, we traveled together; he was very active with the National District’s Attorney Association, and he knew the people in the Reagan and the Bush administration, and he knew they would assist if he requested it; but the other thing that was going on back then was that the city of Chicago, in the Loop, there was improvance being made in the Loop. Mayor Daley focused on economic development in the Loop, doing a lot of things that Giuliani didn’t do in New York; he wasn’t going to let the people come into the city and be hassled by people on the street. A lot of those people were put into shelters, they were taken care of, but they looked at the west side; they looked at the Chicago Stadium, the United Center on the west side, they looked at the Loop, and they looked at the White Sox Park, and they decided that in these areas, where the crime was becoming intolerable, that they were going to have economic development in the same they were cracking down on the gang structures, and that’s actually what happened over that time. From the Loop to the west side, from the Loop to the south side including McCormick Place and the Bears in Soldier Fields, these sports franchises, and the people that were involved in them, and the business men, and women in the area, the chamber of commerce, they all got together and said ‘We got to have economic development’. Look what it is today. When you start to take this whole issue of crime in the streets today – the gangs today are different. Whether they’re Waukegan, or Chicago, Juliet, or in the suburbs, they still deal on heroin, but the heroin is not going into the inner city, it’s going into the suburbs. We have an epidemic of overdoses of heroin in the suburban areas. We never had that before. I think what you’re looking at now, you’re looking at entrepreneurial. You have a different gang leadership or representation in each neighborhood. The neighborhoods, they’re not conclusive enough. Dan Proft: You’re saying that you don’t have the kingpins, like a Jeff Ford. Fred Foreman: Everybody’s an entrepreneur; one of the things back in the 80s and 90s, there were 1000 homicides a year in Chicago. There’s about 450, that’s way too many, but not only crime going down, a lot of people are incarcerated, a lot of people that were committing a lot of crimes are behind bars, but also, a lot of the people that were admitted to the emergency rooms - the techniques that came back from the war in the Middle East, they used them in emergency rooms on shootings. People are shot now and they’re safe; they don’t die anymore. The doctors and the nurses and the emergency personnel have done wonders. Dan Proft: Yeah, but again, from the 80’ to today, in terms of aggregate numbers, but do you have to look at it in context, and in the context of Chicago versus other major urban centers today; and Chicago is still an outlier. There’s still something happening here that’s not happening elsewhere, so you’ve mentioned the difference between the gangs in the 80’ versus today; what about the difference in terms of law enforcement and prosecutorial cooperation from the 80’ until today? Is there some different approach? Is there something that just isn’t as cohesive and as cooperative as it should be that helps explain this in part? Is there not enough police? Are the police tactics different? What is it that is different in Chicago today as compared to L.A, New York, Houston, etcetera? Fred Foreman: Well, the only thing I can say is I think there’s a sense that there needs to be more of an alliance between the police and the people that live in the communities. The police have to be in the community, they have to be doing proactive crime control in the communities, like they did; community policing came in back in the 80’ and the 90’, and I think that seems to work – maybe they’re using that in New York and L.A, although in the 90’ we had people detail from Chicago to go to L.A; prosecutors and law enforcement to assist with some of the problems they were having back then. I think that we had a good model then, I think they’re struggling to find that model today. Dan Proft: So, speaking of alliances, the relationship between the US attorney for the Northern District and the Attorney General of the state of Illinois – and I bring this up because Lisa Madigan, who’s been our Attorney General for the better part of the last 13 years, said, when she first ran in 2002, against Joe Birkett, coming off of Jim Ryan’s 10 years Attorney General, that one of the things that she would do, that Republicans failed to do, was root out public corruption. Where was Jim Ryan when the George Ryan corruption was going on? And 13 years later, she doesn’t have a lot of successful prosecutions of corrupt public officials to show for her efforts – and they have been quite a few in 13 years in Illinois – as there always have been in that period of time. And so I guess the question is – I should point out that her rationale, and her explanation is ‘Well, in most of those cases, take [Inaudible 00:26:42] for instance, the US attorney’s office for the Northern District got involved and so I didn’t want to step on their feet.’ That’s been her explanation. Is that a fair explanation, and what is the relationship between a US attorney for the Northern District – which you were – and the Attorney General – regardless of party, you were US attorney for the Northern District when Ronald Burke, a democrat, was the Attorney General for us, and Neil Hartigan, a democrat, was Attorney General before him. So what of that relationship and Lisa Madigan’s explanation for her AWOL status over the 13 years? Fred Foreman: Actually, that relationship with the US attorney, the Cook County State’s attorney and the Attorney General, has been the same for as long as I can remember. They’ve carved out their turf; the US attorney was going to handle public corruption, and federal corruption at their level. The Attorney General was going to be more involved with state prosecutions for environmental matters for regulatory matters and issues. Dan Proft: [Inaudible 00:27:46] the consumer adequate. Fred Foreman: Exactly. That’s been the tradition role; the other thing that Attorney Generals have become very active in, obviously just taking on major industries; as far as tobacco litigation, that was the Attorney General saying they’ve taken on various charities they go after for violation of those issues or those laws, and the Attorney General was always considered to be the chief law enforcement officer, but his role was always in that bailiwick, whereas the US attorney used to rotate every four years; Pat Fitzgerald was the only US attorney that ever served more than one term in modern history, because he was focused on the public corruption at the state and the local level, and that’s why most presidents left him in as long as they did; so he really assumed that role when I served as United State’s attorney, our role was to focus on the federal crimes, particularly public corruption, judicial corruption, the Attorney General worked with the local state’s attorneys; oftentimes came in and prosecuted cases where they had conflicts and the local states attorneys couldn’t do it, so that’s the traditional law, and I think most the Attorney Generals, when they run for office, that they’re going to – as a part of their platform – we’re going to do more public corruption cases. Dan Proft: So when Attorney Generals, regardless of party, say that, they’re being a little disingenuous. Fred Foreman: Well, they’re making a campaign promise that they probably aren’t going to keep. Details haven’t traditionally been around. Dan Proft: It’s real practice, they teach that not to be their role. Fred Foreman: Exactly. Dan Proft: Law enforcement is a stepping stone springboard to higher office, to governorship; Governor Jim Thompson leverages his status as usage attorney to the governorship for Fort Term; Mayor Daley, obviously, he had a little bit of other things going on that assisted him; Mayor Giuliani in New York, sure; Fred Foreman back in the day, when he was US Attorney, he was widely rumored to be ‘Okay, this guy needs to take on Paul Simon and the sitting US Senator; this guy needs to be lieutenant governor for Jim Edgar; this guy needs to be governor himself someday’; So you chose the path somewhat less traveled, and stayed in the legal community then going on to be a judge, as we talked about before. What about political ambitions and the kind of thinking back to those years in the early 90’ when you were one of a handful of people that was routinely talked about for every vacancy for statewide office that occurred; any regrets, considerations? What was the calculus at the time? Fred Foreman: Well, I was flattered to be considered, I say that from a high profile position, as US Attorney, but George Bush lost the election in 1992 and at that time, there wasn’t any available job openings and I had a young family that needed to be prepared for college and college tuition, and every time an opportunity came up someone was a little bit ahead of me in line. Dan Proft: It wasn’t a lack of desire, then? Fred Foreman: Not at all; it was just a question of Jim Edgar, who was elected governor, and he looked to be there for quite a while; Jim Thompson had just left the governorship; they were talking about him for president of the United States; he was very much considered for that position; and eventually, when Jim Edgar retired early, George Ryan was there; he’d been secretary of state; he was very popular, and Jim Ryan was t’ed up, and I was a supporter of Jim Ryan; so I had alliances, I mean, I remained very active in politics, but I continued to focus on profession; The legal profession – I practiced law, I had a good run for 11 years at the Freeborn and Peters law firm, and then I went on the bench, because I always wanted to finish my career as a judge. I’ve now finished my career as a judge, but I’m back again practicing law, so opportunities were there, but I had to wait the opportunity of running for higher office, and that investment with my family, and my kids were that age where they would all get ready for college, and there were a lot of funds over still in government, and I knew what my goals were, and that’s why I still remain active and try to make sure we get good judges in that third branch of government. Dan Proft: Do you think it was a different time 25 years ago too in terms of the political culture where – because republicans were ascendant in that time period, as you described it earlier – that it was more of a wait your turn; there are slots and everybody comes together and figures it out; we’re going to put the square pack in the square hole, and the round pack in the round hole over here, where today it’s a little bit more wide open. Fred Foreman: I agree. That’s a very good assessment of the way it is today, because nobody wants to wait in line anymore. Nobody wants to wait for their time. Dan Proft: Is that a good or a bad thing? Fred Foreman: Well, I’m not so sure, because you look at another former US Attorney that hit quite well is Chris Christie. Maybe his time was not now, because as a former US Attorney myself, I probably would have been in his court. He probably waited a little bit too long, and then I think just the impression that people had – he was a tough talker, but he was a bit of a bully, and I think he lost a lot on that, but there’s another timing… the governors that are running this year; these are traditionally Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton; you look at the people who have been elected to the highest office in the country over the past 50 years, they’ve either been an United States Senator – LBJ, JFK, president Obama – or they’ve been a governor, some of which never distinguished themselves as much as they thought they could of. The ones that lost – senator McCain, Bob Dole - they’re in that period of time; they were senators; but who did they lose to? They lost to governors. Dan Proft: It seems like it’s a bit of a different age too; particularly in the 20 far news cycle, and this really predates your time at US Attorney’s office - as US Attorney, I should say – by a little bit, where Scott Walker is a good example, it seems, this cycle; maybe some other candidates, even Jeff Bush. You can be very good at retail politics, even at a statewide level; even in a big state, like Florida or Illinois, like Jim Thompson was, but if you’re not good on TV, if you can’t exist in the 24 hour cable news channel world, then you’re going to have a very difficult time, no matter how good your record is. Fred Foreman: I’m a Wisconsin tax payer. I was a big fan of Scott Walker; my daughter’s in education in Wisconsin; she’s got her masters and she works in schools, and she likes Scott Walkers; she was a beneficiary of some of the reforms that took place that seemed to work very well, and are continuing to work well, so I was very much in favor of Scott Walker, but it hit the now in the head; he just didn’t have that ability. Look what happens to Senator Rubio, with one 20 minute duration of a debate with the former prosecutor putting the pressure on, and he lost his momentum just on that; maybe he’s regained it, maybe he’s not, but I think that’s tough hardball politics. With that kind of a news cycle, and the media focusing on making it competitive, that’s what happens. Dan Proft: Do you think that – it’s my contention that the law follows culture, right? The law is reflective of culture, because frankly politicians are usually at the end of the parade route, not the beginning of it. They make decisions after they figure out which way the public’s going. They’re not usually leading the parade. And so, do you think that there’s not enough conversation, though in the Republican party, devoted to our culture, because the culture drives the law, and there should be rather than just saying ‘Follow the law, abide the law’, that’s always the solution to the exclusion of a deeper conversation about political culture. Fred Foreman: I think it’s got to be culture in politics too. One simple value that we should have with the law and with politics is the rule of law; I’m a judge; I have to follow the law. I have to apply the law to the facts and if I don’t I have an Appellate Court that’s going to come down on me and say ‘You didn’t handle those properly’, or a supreme court. So I think that if you have an issue in our society, if you follow the law, many times that will clear up your issue. But when you start to defer judgment, or you decide that you’re going to postpone dealing with that issue, pretty soon you haven’t dealt with an issue and it has become such a big issue, because you’ve delayed it, you haven’t confronted it, that it becomes a stumbling block, which can – I think – stop your political progression. Dan Proft: How much of an accountability mechanism - or a chastening mechanism perhaps – are at higher courts. In other words, as a circuit court judge, or a chief judge, if you get overturned at the Appellate Court level – it’s not like you lose your job; you still get your paycheck, what’s the perspective of judges in terms of thinking about a higher court’s overturning their holding? Fred Foreman: If you really are proud of the job you’re doing as a judge, you don’t want to be reversed; you are graded publicly, and even what they used to call rule 23s, which were unpublished opinions, they’re getting published. The Second District Appellate Court that I’ve dealt with and the Supreme Court, if you’ve done something wrong, they’re going to point it out; you’re going to be held accountable. In the States, where you have to run for reelection as a judge, the first thing they look at, Wisconsin being an example, is your opinions, and the Appellate opinions, and your performance as a judge; and I know when I was chief judge, if I had a judge that was reversed by the Appellate Court, and it was because that judge wasn’t prepared, or that judge was cavalier about his responsibilities, he was in my office, and I always told them ‘This reflects poorly on the whole circuit, and frankly, it’s right down the line. Supreme Court will tell the same thing to the chief judges; you have a responsibility to make sure that your judges are held accountable for either misconduct or the fact that they’re election on duty’. Dan Proft: Just your role; US Attorney role is interesting, and that’s much more of a public role, but as a chief judge of a circuit, most people experience court when they have to go pay a speeding ticket, right? Most people are not experienced court because they’ve committed some kind of serious crime, or because even they’re serving on a jury, necessarily; and so I just wonder what the experience is, what people should understand about how the circuit courts work; the job that is done at that level, versus what they see from salacious dramatizations on the cyber screen on television. Fred Foreman: I’ve prosecuted people in court all the way from speeding tickets to capital murder. I’ve been a judge in those type of cases, and I’ve selected people for jurors to serve, in cases that many people would not see important, but the jurors come in, and I go talk to the jurors after their service back in my chambers, and I talked to them what they thought about the system in that case; in that then, a theft case or burglar case, not a murder case, and they are so excited about the fact that they’ve participated in the process. The same regard, if somebody goes to court on a traffic case, that’s the first time you’ve been to court, I don’t care who you are, you’re nervous, you’re upset, that’s the most important thing; people that go onto court and they’re having their houses foreclosed, that is an experience that’s almost like surgery, I mean, nowadays, with our economy and the impact I was telling you earlier, picking the jury during the Recession in 2006-2007, I had jurors that were in tears because they had so many problems at home, they wanted to be a juror, but they couldn’t. They couldn’t serve because they had a sick child, they were unemployed, but then others would say ‘I don’t care, I have to serve; have to do my duty’. Dan Proft: I agree, it took me about 40 times in court for speeding tickets before I got comfortable. Now I’m comfortable after the amount of speeding tickets I’ve got. To that point, this is another caricature, right? You’re too dumb to get out of jury duty; and it turns out that maybe that’s a little bit unfair, that people who are selected for jury, numbers one, they want to do it, and not just for the per diem, but because they believe in the system, they want to understand the system, they want to learn the system, they take the job seriously, so you’re experience on the bench, with all of your legal experience was an edifying one for you, in terms of belief in the system? Fred Foreman: Absolutely, jurors would come in and they would say ‘I have to serve my sons in Afghanistan or Iraq, and he’s serving there, I’m serving here’. I was on jury duty, and a former Waukegan detective was on jury, so he came over to me and said ‘What are you doing here?’ My picture’s up on the wall and I’m on jury duty, and I said ‘I’m on jury duty’. He says, ‘What kind of a judge are you? You can’t even get out of jury duty?’ I think that that’s a strict rule, you get selected for jury duty, you go to jury duty. Dan Proft: It’s funny when governor Rauner was just candidate Rauner in 2014; his number got called for jury duty, he went duty; there is a story about it, right? He went to jury duty, he didn’t get selected, but he showed up to jury duty and went through the process just like everybody else, and that’s one of the great leveling aspects of our justice system, is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a governor, or a former US Attorney, or a Waukegan detective, or anybody, that you all go through the same process and there’s something that is unifying about that process, and maybe that’s what generates, number 1, people taking that very seriously, number 2, as imperfect as that is, the best justice system in the world. Fred Foreman: You can mention this to your co-host, Amy, in the morning, but we once had Mike Caplan, who was a weatherman at Channel 7, ABC, well known from Lake County, he was out one of my juries, a criminal case, and he came in and sat there every day, and did his time; he talked about it several times afterwards, about what a great experience it was, but then he came back with Jackie Bange, and they cut an orientation video on jury duty, because they both been on jury duty, and Jackie’s married to a Lake County judge, so they came back and they were just delighted to do that; and we show it now to the jurors during orientation, and so it doesn’t really matter who you are; you’re here to serve, and you’re just not going to get out of jury duty. Dan Proft: I have to get your take because of this legal career that we’ve described on the position and somebody that has gone through a certain confirmation hearing, you mentioned at the outset – with respect to being confirmed to be US Attorney – on the center republican position, on President Obama promulgating a nominee to replace Justice Scalia, and their position that no hearings will be held, regardless of the nominee that you level up to us, this is something that should wait for the next president. Ultimately, isn’t this a political process, and so all of the hue and cry from Democrats, because they don’t have the senate is just political hue and cry? If they were in a position where they did control the Senate, they would do something very differently than they’re saying now if they had a Republican President; the arguments would be reversed, essentially, as they have been historically with Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer; and then New York Times and everyone else going even back to the board curings; What’s your opinion on that, because our junior senator, the Republican Mark Kirk is one of the few that has broken from the ranks, and suggested that President Obama should perform the nominee – which of course he will – and that the Senate should take up that nominee. Fred Foreman: I was a little surprised that the senate acted so quickly; the Saturday that Justice Scalia died they said they wouldn’t entertain a nomination; if you look at the Constitution, the President can send a nomination over, and then the Senate can decide whether or not, under the broad interpretation of advised consent, how they’re going to handle that nomination. Fred Foreman: I think what senator Kirk tried to say is ‘Well, let’s see who you’re going to send over; I’ll keep an open mind so I see who your nominee is’, and then, of course, they’ve decided there will not be any hearings. I don’t know if that means any more hearings for pending nominations, because when I was nominated, there were a couple senators who did not want a particular person confirmed as a federal judge, so essentially, politically, John Sununu was the chief of staff; there was a brick on a pile stacked on his desk of nominations. The nominations under that brick, who was somebody else’s file, were not going to move until that was dealt with. It took my nomination almost 9 months to get confirmed. Dan Proft: And did they explore your video rentals, the way they explored judge Sparks with video rentals? Fred Foreman: Full pledge FBI background investigation. Dan Proft: Yeah, a full colonoscopy. Fred Foreman: And as I mentioned, as president of the National District Attorney Association, I gave testimony both at the board confirmation hearings and with the Kennedy confirmation hearings, as the president of National District Attorneys, but once the nomination comes over, advice and consent gives the senators a lot of opportunities to do pretty much what they want to do as long as they stay within the confines of the Constitution. Dan Proft: This isn’t the watershed moment when bork became a verb, after judge Bork got borked, which is not part of our political parlance. Isn’t that a change where ‘Hey, if we have the power, then we’re going to exorcize it’; democrats and republicans. Fred Foreman: Yeah, I think that it was a much more cordial gentleman-like participatory process, and I think that that had a lot to do with changing the rules of the game, and it’s unfortunate; the Senate used to be much more collegial, and I think that’s a lot of the frustration now in some of the presidential races, as people want Washington to work. They’re sending a lot of money out there, they want to see it work. Dan Proft: So thinking about that, and thinking about the presidential race, how do you – as a long time political observer – locally, statewide, nationally, how do you explain the rise of Donald Trump as we sit here today; he’s about this close from earning the table and being the Republican nominee. Fred Foreman: People are frustrated, they’re frustrated with big government, they want more accountability, and Trump is saying a lot of things that people want to hear. I haven’t heard too many plans as how he’s going to carry out these particular plans, but that seems to be what people are looking at; now they’re frustrated and now they’re angry. Dan Proft: And at the state level, you’re Mr. Lake County; that’s your moniker, one of your many monikers – Mr. Lake County; and it turns out. Fred Foreman: I prefer Grandpa. Dan Proft: Oh, yeah, Grandpa, the preeminent Moniker; it turns out that if you look at the numbers - just as we’re looking at the numbers, the delegate math, and so forth, the presidential – if you look at the numbers in Illinois, at the state level, the Republican party cannot be, and will not be, the majority party in the state if they’re not the party in the suburbs. Collar County is like Lake County, which is frankly a 50/50 county these days. And so, what do you think it is that Republicans need to do in Illinois that they haven’t been doing to win races in the Collar Counties, like up many races – legislative races in Lake County – that they haven’t won, that are winnable; what do you think it is that Republicans need to do to be that majority party in the Collar Counties, and again, in the suburbs, as the predicate to being the majority party in the state. Fred Foreman: They have to have solutions. They have to have solutions to healthcare; they can’t just say they’re going to repeal Obama Care; they have to have an alternative, they have to have a plan; I think they have to have a plan for economic development; they have to have a plan to balance the budget; they have to have a plan for education; the largest expense in the tax bill is education; public education, so there has to be confidence in the educational system. Dan Proft: Do you think prosecutors make good executives, make good politicians at a statewide level, either senate or a governor, or is it a mixed bag? Fred Foreman: Most prosecutors, if they’re successful, it means that they have good people that they can manage to make them successful. You have to be a good manager, but you have to hold people accountable, and you have to be willing to make a decision; you can’t postpone a decision. In any government, to manage people, I’ve taken the position that no matter what the organization is, 10% of the people are either incompetent or incapable of doing the job. If you have to replace them, you have to be accountable and replace them; that’s your job as an elected official, or as a department head that may very well be replaced by the same type of people, but that’s a fact of management and skill; being a public manager, the opportunity to have wonderful people working for me; when I’ve been State’s Attorney, United State’s Attorney and Chief Judge; these people, you ask them to do something, they do it. If they don’t do it, then you have to hold them accountable. Dan Proft: So sometimes, Bernie Sanders is a 74 year old socialist running for president, and doing quite well. Maybe you got a statewide run in you left at some point; the statewide run that didn’t happen in the early 90’ when it could have happened? Fred Foreman: I am delighted – like Bernie – to be a grandfather. Dan Proft: Yeah; a non-socialist. Fred Foreman: No, he’s very entertaining, but that’s what we have now here in the country. We have several senior citizens all mind, all older than me, that are great, but at this point, I’m blessed to have a wonderful family, and I’ve been married 45 years; I’m lucky; I’m one of the survivors. Dan Proft: Alright, he is Grandpa Fred Foreman, former US Attorney, former Lake County Chief Judge, now senior council at Freeborn & Peters; Fred Foreman, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it! Fred Foreman: Thank you! You bet. Dan Proft: Great, thank you.

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He who has gotten used to unreason is ready for unkindness

At Speakout Illinois Dan Proft discusses how to make this year's theme: “Illinois Lives Matter” a reality, rather than an aspirational statement.

“Illinois Lives Matter”. That is the theme of this year’s Speak Out.

It turns out that is an aspirational statement rather than one that reflects the reality on the ground here.

While the incidence of abortion continues to decline—down another 6% last year and Thank God for that—Illinois still retains its title as the abortion dumping ground of the Midwest.

Chicago has a higher murder per capita rate than New York and Los Angeles combined.

Illinois ranks 47th in the nation in providing services for developmentally disabled persons

The divide is widening between those who believe they are their brother’s keeper and a government that acts only as the keeper of their brother’s money.

Now I am not going to overstate the case as to the State of the State of Illinois because there is no need. The problems we have here exist everywhere because man exists everywhere. There is no utopia on our mortal coil just outside Illinois’ borders.

However, the problems endemic to the human condition are particularly pronounced in Illinois. Someone always serves as the bad example and this is the role Illinois has chosen to play for the United States.

And there is a reason. It is because we have given in to unreason.

As the great Christian apologist (and convert to Catholicism…a little shout out for my faith tradition) G.K. Chesterton observed in a column in the Illustrated London News during the darkness of The Great Depression, “He who has got used to unreason is ready for unkindness.”

When we get used to injustice—particularly institutionalized injustice—we are ready to usher in unkindness, even barbarism.

Do you remember five years ago when the State of Illinois cancelled its 92-year-long adoption contract with Catholic Charities soon after the passing of civil unions? Robyn Zeigler, a spokesman for Attorney General Lisa Madigan, said at the time in explanation of the decision, “Our focus remains on doing what is best for the care and welfare of children in the foster care system in Illinois.”

For 92 years the state said it was renewing the contract because it was in the best interest of children to do so. Then, overnight, Lisa Madigan cancelled the contract because it was doing what was in the best interests of children. The only problem is, Catholic Charities' policies didn't change from 24 hours earlier when the state said it was operating in the best interests of children. Likewise, nothing changed about the child's best interest.

But something changed for the thousands of children in Catholic Charities foster care and the thousands of children Catholic Charities placed in loving adoptive homes. Their interests were sacrificed on the pyre of intolerance masquerading as tolerance.

He who has got used to unreason is ready for unkindness.


Speaking of adoption, you may know because you’ve probably seen them on the roads that 29 states have the “Choose Life” license plates.

These are so-called specialty plates where residents pay a premium for their license plate and a portion of the premium is distributed to organizations consistent with the mission of the plate sponsor. With “Choose Life” plates the benefiting organizations are crisis pregnancy centers and other such adoption service providers. Tens of millions of dollars have been raised through the voluntary purchase of these plates to support CPCs and adoption services providers

Illinois has more than 100 specialty license plates. For example, there’s a plate to support youth golf—for the youth that make it to golfing age in Illinois.

There is no “Choose Life” plate but it hasn’t been for lacking of trying dating back to 2003. The effort has been led by pro-life heroes Jim Finnegan, Joe & Carol Walsh, Jill Stanek, Tom Brejcha, Peter Breen and Tom Morrison—long before they were State Reps.—and many others.

But two leaders for the cause deserve special mention in a story not enough people have heard and not enough people remember: they are Rev. Scott & Janet Willis.

After losing 6 children in a horrific car accident involving another driver who had obtained his CDL license by bribing a Sec. of State’s office employee—the most egregious consequence of the George Ryan-era corruption—Scott & Janet Willis appeared at an African-American church on the south side of Chicago (I was there as well) and said this, “Eight and one-half years ago, Janet and I lost six of our children in a terrible van accident. The tragedy, as the people of Illinois now know, was partially due to a licensing system in Illinois that had been abused for political greed and power. The system of licensing is not bad. The abuse of the system is what has been so destructive. We believe that offering this 'Choose Life' specialty plate is one way this system can be cleaned up from its corrupt core and be used for good."

A State Senator running for US Senator named Barack Obama called the “Choose Life” license plates, “contentious.”

Part of that effort early on included a meeting with House Speaker Mike Madigan, he was House Speaker then just as he is now just as he was when Illinois was incorporated in 1818.

Madigan spoke of his support for adoption because, you know, he told Rev. Scott & Janet Willis (I was at that meeting too), I adopted my daughter Lisa. I suggested to Madigan, that this was great news (though I already knew it) and, despite the suggestion he made that he is but one legislator, we all know him to be a very persuasive legislator and if he wants something voted up on the House floor, then that thing will get voted up on the House floor and we’ll go ahead and hold him to that standard of excellence he has set for himself.

That was the first and last time I was included in a face-to-face meeting with Madigan. Madigan bottled up the “Choose Life” plate legislation in committee and 13 years later the effort continues.

(Remind me to tell you the Emil Jones story).

The short of this is Rev. Scott & Janet Willis brought their grace to the General Assembly in support of a positive development from the incalculable tragedy they endured and at the hands of a government they financed no less. Their views were humored but not considered because voluntary support of adoption service providers through a forum the state has made available to speech (state license plate) was too “contentious.”

You know of the good work CPCs do for children and families alike. Think how many more children and families could have been served by those who live their lives for others with the resources this license plate would’ve unleashed.

He who has got used to unreason is ready for unkindness.


In 2009, when I was running my ill-fated campaign for governor, I got an email from a friend asking if I had seen an executive order issued by ill-equipped Gov. Pat Quinn, also a Catholic (Chesterton, Pat Quinn…we’ve got a big tent…too big), that would allow the public sector unions to try and organize the state-contracted home health care workers.

I had seen something about it but I took to be another public sector union gambit and, at the time, didn’t fully appreciate the implications.

That changed after I met with a group of parents, including a woman named Pam Harris, who had children with developmental disabilities.

They explained how the state’s home health care worker program worked to me in its actual operation. The state provided a rather modest stipend to the home health care worker for a developmentally disabled child for that child’s care. The home health care worker most often turned out to be one or both of the child’s parents because, of course, who has a bigger stake in the care of a child then his parents.

This was the rare state program that was actually in alignment with the interests of Illinois families specifically and civilization generally.

Well, of course, this could not stand. What Quinn’s executive order would’ve allowed is to close the shop of home health care workers and herd parents into the Service Employees Union because SEIU is always looking for to force more dues-paying members into their ranks.

Think about this for a second, the parent would be (forcibly) represented by a union against their child. I’m sorry, Joey, you don’t get fed right now, I’m on one of my two 15-minute breaks.

The courtesy and customer service of the DMV for the developmentally disabled.

He who has gotten use to unreason is ready for unkindness.

Pam Harris and other parents were having none of it. They were not going to let a SEIU business agent come between them and their children. Pam Harris took her case all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States and five years after Quinn’s executive order, Harris was victorious.

I’ve got to give you at least one “and they lived happily ever after” ending.


Unfortunately, the news is generally not so happy as I mentioned at the outset with Illinois’ ignominious record of serving persons with developmental disabilities.

This week Lutheran Social Services announced they are laying off some 750 employees, nearly 43% of their staff, and shutting down a number of programs in the areas of senior services and addiction services because the state owes them $6 million for services already rendered and LSSI can’t afford to float the state any longer.

Catholic Charities is suggesting similar reductions because the state is in arrears to them for $16 million.

There are cries from social service providers to get a budget done, to raise taxes, to make funding social services a priority.

Let me close by informing the fact-free news reports you have likely seen recently on this matter.

$214 billion in debt. $30 billion in assets. 7:1 debt to total assets ratio.

That’s the State of Illinois.

You don’t rack up $214 billion in debt overnight. In fact, Illinois has not passed a constitutionally balanced budget in 14 years.

Illinois has the 5th highest total tax burden in the country according to the Tax Foundation and the worst credit rating in the country according to everyone.

So think through this with me and go help others to do similarly.

My legislative representatives and yours tell me they’re committed to helping the truly vulnerable, those who need temporary help and those who need long-term assistance and services through no fault of their own.

We have $214 billion in debt.

So after all of the taxing and spending and borrowing and spending, if the truly vulnerable was the priority how is it we’re 47th in providing services to the developmentally disabled and tens of millions in arrears to social services providing operating other laudatory programs?

How do you reconcile the contradiction?

They’re lying. That’s how.

Recalling the “Choose Life” license plate matter for comparison and emphasis: Illinois state government doesn’t spend the money it takes from you as they say the will while preventing you a channel to voluntarily spend your money for the benefit of others.

He who has got used to unreason is ready for unkindness.


In close, the good news is that the antidote for unreason and unkindness are the reasoned people in this room who with a servant’s heart those within your circles of influence who are similarly disposed.

I’m not the mindless happy talk guy. So I have to tell you what I think is true, that Illinois has in many ways become a barbaric place to live.

But that need not be our destiny.

What you do matters. Your civic engagement. Your charitable work matters. The opinion leadership you provide within your circles of influence matters.

We need people who know better to share their knowledge, collectively demand better and labor for better.

I find myself going back to read passages from Whitaker Chambers’ “Witness” often to remind myself that the point is to put in the fight for what you think is right even if you think you’re going to lose. You never know. You may be wrong about the outcome.

Thank you.