Illinois Republicans are crying foul over Governor Pat Quinn's appointment of the head of a pro-choice political group to a spot on the Human Rights Commission.
Terry Cosgrove is president and CEO of Personal PAC, a group that is dedicated to electing pro-choice politcians. His confirmation passed the Illinois Senate by a vote of 30-25 Thursday, with Republicans vehemently opposed and debate getting so heated that two senators had to be separated, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The GOP is characterizing Cosgrove's appointment as "pay-to-play" based on his PAC's support of Quinn in the recent gubernatorial election. Quinn's opponent, Republican Bill Brady, was a hard-line opponent of abortion rights, believing them wrong even in the cases of rape or incest.
Personal PAC came out very strong against Brady in the race, taking out heartbreaking ads featuring first-person narratives of rape victims who wouldn't have been allowed to seek abortions under a Brady regime. The group raised and spent over $400,000 in the race.
Brady lost very narrowly, coming up short by just under 20,000 votes. And many Republican strategists have suggested that the PPAC ads swung enough female voters in the Chicago suburbs to tilt the race toward Governor Quinn.
The GOP is understandably reluctant, then to see him given a statewide office. But as Rich Miller writes in his Chicago Sun-Times column, this hardly qualifies as "pay-to-play" by the traditional definition of the phrase:
Pay to play means I give you something so that you'll give me something.
For instance, Gov. Rod Blagojevich wanted to engage in some pay to play when he sought out campaign contributions, a job for himself or his wife and other nefarious things in exchange for appointing somebody to the U.S. Senate. ...
But governors in every state have a long history of appointing political supporters to state boards and commissions. And this appointment is no different.
Either way, hearings in the Senate Executive Appointments Committee got heated. Republican Dan Duffy held up flyers, produced by PPAC, describing him as extreme on the abortion issue, the Chicago Tribune reports. "You know that that's not true," Duffy said to Cosgrove of one particularly harsh flyer suggesting he would put women behind bars. "It's a complete lie, and I never want to put women in jail for having an abortion."
The Sun-Times writes that Duffy and committee chairman Tony Munoz, Democrat from Chicago, approached Duffy, and the two got into a fiery discussion in a corner of the committee room. Sen. Tim Bivins, a Republican and a former sheriff, separated the two. "I was telling him about protocol," Munoz said when asked about the confrontation.
Cosgrove's nomination ultimately passed the committee on a party-line 5-4 vote, and passed the Senate along similar lines.
"Terry Cosgrove will be a valuable member of the state's Human Rights Commission," a statement from the Governor's office read. "Mr. Cosgrove has made advocating for human rights his life's work, and the Governor appointed Mr. Cosgrove to serve on the commission based on that work, as well as their shared desire to support equality for all Illinoisans."
The job pays $46,960 a year.