Reporting Jay Levine
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Illinois Republicans, blamed by the governor for defeating pension reform last week, say there’s another explanation.
Just follow the money, GOP state chairman Pat Brady says.
Friday’s special session ended after a 54-53 vote on a watered-down pension reform measure made it clear House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) didn’t have the 60 votes needed to pass it.
The Democrats blamed it on Republicans and their House leader, Tom Cross.
Monday, GOP leaders charged that $97,000 in campaign contributions by a powerful labor union to Madigan and the Democrats on the very same day — part of more than $200,000 for the month — was the real reason pension reform failed.
“It doesn’t pass the smell test,” Brady tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.
The Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, was one of a number of labor organizations in the “We are One” Illinois coalition demonstrating against pension reform.
SEIU represents about 3,500 state workers, but in August alone state records show that on Aug. 17 it gave $47,000 and another $50,000 to the Democratic Majority; on Aug. 13 it contributed $50,000 to Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago); on Aug. 10, $45,000 to the Senate Democratic Victory Fund, and on Aug. 6, $50,000 to the Democratic Party of Illinois.
Still the Democrats blamed the failure to pass pension reform on the Republicans.
“It was all a big charade, and they were down there and got a $200,000 payoff from their labor-boss buddies. Nothing’s changed in Illinois,” Brady said.
A spokesman for Mike Madigan says the Republicans are either trying to fetch a contribution themselves, or are just confused. A Statement from SEIU calls the charges “baseless election-year rhetoric.”