Dispatch from DuPage: What about Bob?

DuPage County Board Chairman Robert J. Schillerstrom (courtesy http://www.co.dupage.il.us)

>> BIG BUCKS SAY BYE-BYE
DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom wasn’t terribly happy fielding our questions the other day following a County Board meeting.

To paraphrase his initial reaction: I’m almost out the door, can’t you leave me be?

Yes, he is almost out the door. Schillerstrom did not run for re-election to the powerful DuPage post, and although he ran in the GOP gubernatorial primary earlier this year, he pulled out at the last moment and threw his support to rival Jim Ryan.

As of early December, Schillerstrom is riding off into the sunset.

Or is he?

In August he hosted a golf fundraiser at Klein Creek Golf Club in Winfield, and collected quite a bit of money — perhaps $40,000, Schillerstrom said.

Is there another run for office planned?

Not now, he insisted, saying the money is to help pay off campaign debt.

To be sure, we’ll check the campaign disclosures down the road and let you know.

Side note: Schillerstrom’s long-time political patron/fundraiser Michael Vondra — the so-called “asphalt king” of Illinois — was at the August golf outing, but Schillerstrom said Vondra did not “pave” the way for the event. “I made the phone calls” to would-be donors, Schillerstrom said. He added that he and Vondra still speak regularly.

Vondra is an intriguing figure.

A huge campaign donor and contractor, his name has surfaced at various times in unfortunate venues, such as the recent Blagojevich trial.

Vondra allegedly sought help from the then-governor on a business venture, and then was targeted by Blago for $100,000 in campaign help. Vondra was not charged with any wrongdoing.

Other questions were raised several years earlier about Vondra’s involvement in a construction company that was suspected by some of being a minority front, as it sought business from the Daley administration.

>> GETTING PRESSED
Turns out the BGA isn’t the only investigative group that has asked Schillerstrom questions over the last few years.

He has been interviewed twice by FBI agents, he confirmed to the BGA.

He emphasized that he was interviewed as a witness, not a target, and that neither case directly involved DuPage. He also said the FBI interviews took place five or more years back.

One of the cases involved crooked consultant John Glennon, but Schillerstrom was cagey on the second instance. He didn’t want to give up the name, he said, because the person in question never was charged with a crime, and he doesn’t want to throw “dirt.”

>> TURNING THE TABLES
Mr. Schillerstrom not only answered questions from the BGA, but asked them, as he was very curious about what had prompted the BGA’s attention.

He wanted to know who was dropping dimes on him.

Of course we protect those who give us information anonymously, so we didn’t say, but Schillerstrom gave it a try anyway and asked if it was Dan Cronin, the guy trying to succeed Schillerstrom as County Board chairman — an intriguing question that hints at suspicion and discord among some of the county’s Republican powerbrokers.

What did Ronald Reagan say about not speaking ill about other GOPers? It was his “11th Commandment.”Oh well. That’s old news.

This blog entry was reported and written by Robert Herguth. Contact us with tips, suggestions and complaints at (312) 821-9030, or at rherguth@bettergov.org.

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