Political Hardball with Southern Illinois Baseball - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Marion, IL

Political Hardball with Southern Illinois Baseball

Political Hardball with Southern Illinois Baseball
By: Carly O'Keefe

MARION, IL - Another player may be entering the game in the Marion minor-league baseball project.

Illinois Republican Party Chair Andy McKenna has asked States Attorney Charles Garnati to investigate allegations of “pay-to-play” politics between Governor Rod Blagojevich and baseball investor John Simmons.

McKenna alleges Blagojevich allocated $3 million to the Marion baseball project in exchange for a large campaign contribution. Now the Republican Party Chair has asked Garnati to investigate, but the prosecutor isn't sure a criminal investigation is needed.

Garnati says he needs to review McKenna’s claims to see if there’s evidence pointing to dirty dealings between the Governor and Simmons.

The prosecutor says it’s not a crime for a person to make a campaign contribution and later become a recipient of government funds. Garnati says unless McKenna has a witness or physical evidence that Simmons gave Blagojevich money to buy consideration around budget time, the claims amount to no more than political posturing.

"If he is playing political games, then obviously I'm not going to take too kindly to that. But I haven't talked to him yet, and who knows, he might have some evidence,” Garnati said.

Garnati says he takes all complaints seriously--including McKenna’s. He says he hopes to make a decision within the next couple of weeks as to whether or not he'll go forward with a criminal investigation. First Garnati says he wants to talk to McKenna to learn what evidence he has to back up his claims.

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