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Cellini donations permeate local, state campaigns
By Joseph Ryan and John Patterson | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/30/2008 6:58 PM

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The indictment of political insider Bill Cellini leaves numerous politicians scrambling to explain campaign donations tied to the bipartisan power broker.

Cellini and his groups have donated nearly $1 million over the last decade to an array of candidates from both sides of the aisle and up and down the state.

Money from an organization the Springfield native directs, the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, is playing a role in hot races today.

The House Republican Organization, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans and House Speaker Michael Madigan have all taken thousands of dollars from the asphalt pavers' "Good Government Council" political action wing in the last three years alone.

Plus, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has taken at least $17,500 since 2006 from the organization. A campaign spokesman didn't return a call seeking comment Friday.

The money has reached suburban lawmakers' accounts as well.

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said he saw no connection when asked if the contributions were tainted and should be returned.

"I don't think the charges have anything to do with the legislature," Brown said.

Spokespeople for the other Republican and Democratic leaders were looking into the contributions, some of which came in earlier this month.

"We are evaluating which groups actually were controlled by Mr. Cellini and will make decisions on what to do from there," said House Republican spokesman David Dring.

Cellini is himself a longtime Republican. He stepped down as a treasurer of the Springfield area's GOP organization on Oct. 15.

But he is known at the state Capitol as a power broker who has played both sides of the aisle while reaping a fortune off state-backed ventures, including casinos, road building and hotels, to name a few. For instance, Speaker Madigan's law firm has represented a real estate company Cellini founded in Cook County property assessment appeals.