Six of the appointees and their organizations have donated more than $100,000 to the governor’s campaign, according to a Chicago Tribune review. Officials have been appointed to the board by Blagojevich as hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions pour in from the appointees’ labor unions, the Tribune said.
Aides to Blagojevich say the appointments are not connected to political contributions. “They do their jobs ethically, and no one has ever suggested otherwise,” said spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff.
Even so, Cindi Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said the appointments beg the question “of whether these people are getting these appointments because they’re the most knowledgeable people in the state or because they are the most connected people in the state.
Illinois State Board of Investment chairman Edward M. Smith is the international vice president and regional manager of the Laborers International Union of North America, which gave $133,500 to the governor.
Smith said he doesn’t see why the union’s support of Blagojevich shouldn’t play a role in his appointment.
“Is he going to use supporters who have his philosophy and who are qualified?” Smith said. “That would make a lot of sense to me.”