By Peter Jamison
In politics, shame is contagious. Small wonder, then, that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- who yesterday was arrested on federal corruption charges alleging that, among other indiscretions, he sought to auction off the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder -- has overnight become the most radioactive figure in American politics. Blagojevich's troubles have even cast a pall over The One himself, leading Obama, who has deep roots in Chicago politics, to call on his erstwhile ally to resign.
But San Franciscans might also be surprised to learn that the Illinois governor has a posse of financial backers on their very own peninsula. As it turns out, San Francisco businesses, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's political action committee, gave $29,500 to the Friends of Blagojevich committee from 2002 through 2006. According to Illinois State Board of Elections records, they included the following:
PAC to the Future, Pelosi's committee, gave a total $10,000 to Blagojevich in 2001. (For those keeping score, Pelosi-affiliated PACs are no strangers to scandal. In 2004, PAC to the Future and Pelosi's Team Majority committee were fined $21,000 by the Federal Election Commission for accepting cash in excess of legal limits.)
The Merchant Benefit Association donated $1,000 in 2002. At the time, the group was based in an office suite on the Embarcadero, according to election records.
Tri City Brokerage, a division of Crump Insurance Services Inc., donated $500 in 2002 and $3,000 in 2005.
T.Y. Lin International, a design and engineering firm headquartered on Harrison Street, donated $2,000 in 2003, $10,000 in 2004 and $1,000 in 2006.
Paul Klapper of the PFK Development Group gave $2,000 to Blagojevich's committee in 2006.
SF Weekly put in calls to these folks to sound them out on the breaking Blagojevich scandal. No word back yet. They're certainly not alone: Election records indicate that Californians gave hundreds of thousands to Blagojevich over the past decade. At least this governor has plenty of shame to go around.