More Illinois politician hypocrisy...


November 19, 2004, 11:55 PM
Took this off of:

Just more Illinois politician hypocrisy...

Tonight the I-Team takes you inside what amounts to Illinois' secret service. It supposed to be an elite, well-oiled force of specially-trained, highly disciplined state police agents willing to take a bullet for the boss.

But since Governor Blagojevich was elected, there has been a changing of the guards who protect him. Not only have the commanders been replaced, so have most of the three dozen officers. Critics claim the squad is mismanaged and overrun by mistakes.

Over the past three months, the ABC7 I-Team watched the governor and his troopers travel around Illinois and across the country. From Calumet City to California, whether by car, by plane or by helicopter, whether walking in public or brushing his hair before going out, Governor Rod Blagojevich and his family are constantly surrounded by Illinois State Police vehicles and armed guards.

The ABC 7 investigation began in July, during the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The I-Team was curious why the governor's bodyguards needed to drive Illinois State Police SUV's all the way out east- especially since all the governors had been provided with Massachusetts State troopers and squad cars.

Though they wouldn't talk, some DNC delegates described it as a security spectacle, with state policeman even acting as bellhops for the first family-carrying in luggage and a baby stroller.

ABC 7 asked the governor's office for an explanation and they sent a memo to the I-Team. His press secretary stated that eight Blagojevich bodyguards drove three state vehicles to Boston.

But that wasn't true, according to state police expense accounts ABC 7 obtained under the freedom of information act.

After being presented with our facts, the governor's office admitted that there were actually twelve bodyguards:

who rang up nearly $23,000 in hotel bills-more than twice the amount they first claimed;
there were actually six cars driven to the DNC;
and some troopers did fly.
"They don't know what they're doing...there's no need for that many people," said Larry Esper, former governor bodyguard.

Larry Esper spent 34-years as an Illinois state trooper, most recently on the governor's detail. He was what's known as "the body" for former Governor George Ryan. The body is the closest guard to the governor.

"I'm a trained, experienced officer in executive protection," said Esper.

Esper says the day after Rod Blagojevich was sworn in, most of what is officially called the Executive Protection Unit, was quickly replaced.

"That's why I often refer to it as the bloodbath. I was banished to a desk inside the mansion to assist the mansion secretary in answering the telephone," said Esper.

A spokeswoman for the governor contends Esper and some other former bodyguards are just angry because their overtime pay was cut by Blagojevich's spending restraints .

In a written statement, the administration cites a "common practice" for new governors to "replace" security "from top to bottom." But police sources say that wasn't the case in-between governor's Walker, Thompson, Edgar and Ryan and that the last four governors kept most.

"The old guard is gone...this has regressed into a political party kind of maneuver," said Esper.

Esper and several current state troopers claim that newly assigned bodyguards lack the judgment and on-the-job training of those they replaced.

Consider what happened three weeks ago on the Tri-State Tollway. The governor's troopers were driving two vehicles on the shoulder right next to the I-PASS lane.

According to a police report, bodyguard Douglas Harms was "exceeding safe speed" when he clipped a Volkswagon. The car's driver says the governor's troopers were going "80 or 90 miles an hour on the shoulder," with only their lights flashing, panicking drivers and causing a chain reaction collision.

"If it wasn't for them on the shoulder flying' by us this accident never would've happened," said Erik Vago, accident.

What was the big hurry? State police sources say the governor wasn't even in the car. His troopers were speeding to Midway Airport to pick him up.

"That's shocking that they can put people's lives in jeopardy to pick someone up at an airport because they are running late," said Erik Vago.

There have been other reports of problems:

Lt. Tom Ceja's 40-caliber state police pistol and handcuffs were stolen from a locked car parked outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles while Ceja attended a boxing match after protecting the governor in 2003. According to an internal report, the gun he left in his car was "loaded with 16 rounds."
State police sources say Lt. Ceja has also violated policy by permitting this 23-year-old intern to drive his police squad car, accompany him on official trips in state vehicles and fly on a state aircraft. She and ceja declined to answer the I-Team's questions.

Bodyguard Tom Matykeivicz went against regulations to take his college-age son with him on a cross country trip to guard the governor last September, police sources said. They were in a state police vehicle and they shared hotel accommodations at state expense.
Bodyguard Raul Perez has been involved in several accidents this year in police vehicles that happened while he was off-duty or had friends in the car. Both are policy violations. According to an internal report, last January Perez saw the governor's personal driver drinking on the job at a swank hotel in Beverly Hills. Because Perez was a supervisor and failed to immediately report the drinking, he was suspended for two days.
Perez, Matykievicz and Ceja aren't just any of the governor's troopers -- the three men run the executive protection detail. They are the three lead officers and are each paid about $100,000/year.

State police officials won't discuss any of the specific misconduct ABC 7 has reported. They say Petez, Matykievicz and Ceja have a combined 66-years of experience and that it is insulting to discredit them. But the facts are that director Ceja was a patrol officer who had no previous experience in executive protection. Also, the top two supervisors had been removed from previous bodyguard assignments because of job performance problems, according to co-workers.

Part II

They're paid to protect Illinois' governor, but critics claim since Rod Blagojevich took office the three dozen state police officers assigned to his bodyguard detail have become glorified chauffeurs and personal valets.

Since being elected, Governor Blagojevich, his family, the Chicago home where they live and the Springfield mansion where they don't, have all received around the clock protection.

Even the critics do not question that state governors deserve to be guarded from the dangers that may come with high office. Mr. Blagojevich does occasionally receive threats, as did his predecessors. But at a time when the state is in dire financial trouble, the question is: at what point does security become a status symbol?

They all have bodyguards and drivers -- Arnold in California, Pataki in New York, Bush in Florida, Granholm in Michigan. Some officers wear uniforms or street clothes, others are in business suits but all sport the secret-service-style earpiece.

But nobody appears to travel like Blagojevich of Illinois. He has state police vehicles driven thousands of miles across the country by his bodyguards, so they can pick him up at the airport and critics say, so he can be driven in vehicles equipped with flashing lights and sirens.

"These state police are glorified chauffeurs. I think it's a total waste of taxpayers dollars. I can understand state police or private security agents guarding the governor in Illinois where he has political enemies, personal enemies-but outside Illinois, I don't think anyone knows him or cares about him," said Jim Tobin, Illinois Taxpayers United.

"He deserves the best protection he can get. What he does not deserve is for his executive protection unit to create a circus around him," said Larry Esper, former governor bodyguard.

Former state trooper Larry Esper was one of governor Ryan's top bodyguards. When Blagojevich was elected most of the detail was demoted, including Esper who chose to retire.

Esper says under previous governors, state cars would rarely be driven out of state and never across the country. They would rent cars.

This fall the I-Team tailed the governor on a trip out west. His entourage included ten bodyguards and six Illinois state police vehicles.

Members of the governor's detail say that three vehicles were driven by troopers from Illinois to southern California and three others were driven from Illinois to northern California. The governor and other guards flew in and were picked up at the airport in Illinois state cars. Their first stop was Beverly Hills where the governor attended a political fundraiser. He and his detail stayed at the five-star Peninsula Hotel. The next stop was Sonoma, north of San Francisco, where the governor met up with the first family having all been picked-up at the Oakland airport by Illinois cars.

The Blagojevich family stayed in a $1,100 a night villa in the wine country. They were there to attend the wedding of the governor's chief of staff.

For more than three hours, an I-Team producer and cameraman were parked in a rental car right in front of the villa. They watched the governor and his family and the Illinois state police guards as they maneuvered vehicles and positioned officers. The governor's guards never asked who they were or what they were doing.

After the wedding the governor's detail whisked him out of town, zigzagging in and out of traffic. At one point in California, his Illinois cars and Illinois police guards even blockaded a Sonoma County intersection so the governor's caravan could cruise through. This kind maneuvering was not permitted during previous administrations.

"We did not run red lights and siren. We did not speed down the highway. We were not allowed to do that. If the governor was going to be late to an event, he was going to be late. Period. Just like the person sitting next to us in the Volkswagen," said Esper.

After a fatal shooting at the state capitol in September, the governor said he wasn't really concerned about his own safety.

"I don't get up in the morning and think I need security around me," said Governor Rod Blagojevich.

But the governor refused to sit down for an interview with ABC7's I-Team to discuss why he is surrounded by such a security net.

In this written statement a Blagojevich spokeswoman defended the security even while on vacation or political trips, "The governor is the governor 24 hours a day," she wrote, "whether he is in Chicago, Springfield or anywhere else."

Previous governors, George Ryan and Jim Edgar, did not take bodyguards on vacation, although in the late 70's and 80's former Governor Jim Thompson says he did.

Blagojevich says he pays for his own travel on personal or political trips, but does not reimburse the state for the expenses or salaries of his security contingent. A taxpayers' rights group says that's wrong.

"If he's going to a party, a personal party, he should just pay for private security agents out of his own campaign budget. He has millions of dollars in his campaign budget to cover those kinds of things. He shouldn't be billing the taxpayers," said Tobin.

Blagojevich claims bodyguard detail is less costly and more alert because they don't work as many overtime hours.

Under Governor Blagojevich, for the first time ever, state bodyguards were made to sign a confidentiality agreement threatening discipline if they revealed any inside information about the governor.

And protecting the governor from harm isn't all the taxpayers are getting.

A top state police officer who supervises the bodyguard detail, Raul Perez, says they have to protect Governor Blagojevich from "any type of embarrassment."

In this sworn interview last spring, trooper Perez stated preventing embarrassment "that's paramount. This man, the governor, we cannot allow him to get embarrassed."

In addition to protecting the first family:

Armed state bodyguards have custody of the governor's hairbrush, which they and he refer to as "the football."
And they handed out Halloween candy at the Blagojevich's front door last month.
Governor Blagojevich maintains that he has improved the executive protection unit by reducing staff, overtime and spending; and by strengthening hiring requirements, training and equipment.

Finally, following our first report, the state police division of internal affairs notified the ABC7 I-Team that an official investigation has now been opened. The commander of Internal Affairs promised there will be no "whitewash."

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El Tejon
November 20, 2004, 07:46 AM
It's not hypocrisy in his eyes, just the natural order of things in Chicago.

We are serfs, we cannot own guns. He is our superior and can own guns.

DT Guy
November 20, 2004, 10:02 AM
Well, if anybody was such an ass that they NEEDED three dozen bodyguards, it's our beloved Blago...

Just wait until he runs for president (an avowed ambition)-then you'll all get to know and love him.


November 20, 2004, 10:14 AM
I can understand state police or private security agents guarding the governor in Illinois where he has political enemies, personal enemies-but outside Illinois, I don't think anyone knows him or cares about him," said Jim Tobin, Illinois Taxpayers United.

Who does he think he is? Does anyone outside of IL know him? I don't think so. I'm quite sure no one outside of IL cares about him.


There are some voters out there who will vote for any candidate but I think even they would draw the line at Blago. :)

DT Guy
November 20, 2004, 04:00 PM
Well, Edmond, that's what we thought, too!!

:cuss: :cuss: :cuss: :cuss:

Never forget that exactly half the people in the world have below average intelligence-for convenience sake, we call them "Democrats."


Standing Wolf
November 20, 2004, 04:23 PM
In this sworn interview last spring, trooper Perez stated preventing embarrassment "that's paramount. This man, the governor, we cannot allow him to get embarrassed."

Is it possible to embarrass leftist extremists?

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