SPRINGFIELD — A former Marine from Waterloo who is running for Illinois attorney general argued Wednesday that incumbent Lisa Madigan hasn't done enough to fight corruption in state government.
Paul Schimpf, a Republican who was born at Scott Air Force Base and served as a Marine Corps lawyer, said Madigan can't do a good job of rooting out corruption in part because her father, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, is "the most powerful person" in state government.
"If we want an attorney general to do something about public corruption, it can't be a political insider," Schimpf said.
He spoke at a news conference in Springfield, accompanied by four area lawmakers: Republican senators Kyle McCarter of Lebanon and Dave Luechtefeld of Okawville, and Republican representatives Charlie Meier of Okawville and Mike Bost of Murphysboro.
Madigan says she has worked to make state government more accountable and is "one of the few state leaders who vigorously and consistently fought against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's corruption and mismanagement." Blagojevich was prosecuted by federal prosecutors and is serving a prison term.
Schimpf said that as a military lawyer, he has prosecuted every type of crime and served as the lead adviser in the prosecution of Saddam Hussein.
"Once you've dealt with the ace of spades in Baghdad, corruption in the state of Illinois just isn't that intimidating," Schimpf said.
In addition to the Blagojevich case, federal prosecutors have brought charges against a state representative, Democrat Derrick Smith of Chicago, for allegedly taking a bribe. His trial is to begin next week, which, ironically, is complicating Speaker Madigan's efforts to pass a tax increase.
Also, federal prosecutors are investigating Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, an anti-crime effort for the Chicago area. Republicans say the program was a $54 million political slush fund.
Lisa Madigan is seeking a fourth term as attorney general in the November election.
Luechtefeld said Schimpf "obviously has an uphill battle" in trying to unseat the incumbent. Madigan had about $4.7 million available in her campaign fund at the end of March, compared to about $14,600 for Schimpf.
Schimpf served in the Marine Corps from 1993 to 2013.
Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at email@example.com or 239-2511.