Illinois Guv Blew $1 Million Trying to Legislate Video Games

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) spent a million dollars on his failed 2005 effort to legislate violent video games, according to Quad Cities Online.

The amount spent was uncovered by an Illinois House committee earlier this week. Accoring to QCO:

The governor raided funds throughout state government to pay for the litigation. Some of the areas money was taken from included the public health department, the state’s welfare agency and even the economic development department.

Rep. Jack Franks (D) said:

We had a strong suspicion that the governor was using funds appropriated by the General Assembly as his own personal piggy bank.

Added David Vite, head of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association:

 It’s unfortunate that the state of Illinois spent taxpayer money defending this statute. This [constitutional defeat] is precisely what we told them would happen.

University of Illinois at Springfield Charles Wheeler III said:

In most people’s minds, the legislation was unconstitutional and it was clear it wasn’t going anywhere.

GP: We should clarify that the amount Illinois owed to the video game industry in legal fees was $510,000. We assume that the balance of the million bucks relates to legal costs Illinois incurred in unsuccessfully defending against the industry’s First Amendment challenge.

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune confirms that the million bucks represent legal costs paid to both sides. That is, Illinois had to pay its own lawyers as well as reimbursing the industry for its legal costs.

As GamePolitics reported back on September 14th, 2005, Illinois hired a partner from Chicago law firm Hogan-Marren to defend against the video game industry’s constitutional challenge to the law.

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  1. 0
    Janeane the Acerbic Goblin says:

    This is rather moronic. Blagojevich damn well knew this law was unconstitutional, yet lobbied and signed it anyway. Then he defends it. You know, Blago, violent video games are the least of Illinois’s (and the country’s) problems.

    Politicians are extraordinarily stupid, useless human beings.

  2. 0
    Nekojin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    So, when are criminal charges going to be laid against Blagojevitch? If another politician (Jack Franks) characterizes his behavior as using the General assembly as, “his personal piggybank,” surely there are some media and political groups with enough clout to levy charges serious enough to stick.

  3. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Probably no criminal charges. Probably. But certainly, the backlash could very well be nasty enough to seek his removal. $1 million is nothing to sneeze at, especially where it came from. How it was used may also be of interest to the taxpayers as well.

    It would be interesting to see of other states had hidden expendatures as well.

    NW2K Software

  4. 0
    The_bobman ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As a citizen of IL, I’ll tell everyone right now. This state has ALWAYS been ran by crooks. Why else would Capone have ran his outfit here?

  5. 0
    Jack ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wow. Just, wow.

    This offensive on all levels. If this happened in the state I reside in I would flip out. He dipped into the public health department, the state’s welfare agency and even the economic development department!!

    Am I making a bigger deal that it is? To me this sounds like an impeachment coming right? Governers can’t do this right? If there is a news report about this I would hope they would include the following quote:

    “In most people’s minds, the legislation was unconstitutional and it was clear it wasn’t going anywhere.”

  6. 0
    Nekojin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Nightwng2000: Yeah, my first post was mostly wishful thinking. I know that there have been more egregious abuses of power within our government that haven’t gotten much more than a press statement and a disgruntled citizenry.

  7. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Some of the areas money was taken from included the public health department, the state’s welfare agency and even the economic development department.”

    Wow. So he takes money away from the children (who will clearly lose out from losses to the health & welfare depts), to “save” the children???

  8. 0
    Marshie ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Jabrwock: Of course!

    See, children don’t need health care, or enough food to survive. That money needs to be spent so little Timmy Suburbanite’s parents can let the XBox 360 babysit while they go out!

  9. 0
    A-wel Cruiz ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Why do they bother to try? Because it’s not their money and even when it fails, they can claim they were trying to do the right thing “for the children” and get the votes they need.

    Hopefully, the voting public is starting to wise up to this bullshit practice and will let them know about it come November.

  10. 0
    Tim Kowalenko ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    If I lived in Illinois, or even the US, I would be spreading this to as many media outlets I could… Would someone like to be a hero?

  11. 0
    Verbinator ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Too bad this information couldn’t have come out last October when it could have been used to educate voters. By the time this guy is up for re-election, it will be old, cold, dull news.

  12. 0
    jonc2006 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    anyone who spends a million bucks as an attempt to create and enforce a law against videogames of all things while there are hundreds of other problems in this country that need atttention has no reason to be handling the states money or be in a position of power whatsoever.

  13. 0
    Jack ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    To add a bit further to what A-wel Cruiz said:

    No matter how many failed bill cost America, legislator’s paychecks are the same.

    So why not spend up money that isn’t theirs? There needs to be consequences to their actions.

  14. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As soon as GP’s piece on Blago-chump’s failure to cough up the dough, I knew this fool was going to get caught red-handed. When a judge orders you to pay up, you don’t delay, unless of course you can’t figure out where you’re going to get it from.

    God, I hope he gets made an example of.

  15. 0
    Majestic_12_x ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I think Governor “Smith” should be more focused on keeping people like Tank Johnson, of the Chicago Bears, from being able to accumulate numerous unlicensed weapons. Maybe Governor Smith can come up with a creative way to legislate this and waste some more money. I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to arrest anyone who’s name is Tank because anyone with a name like that has an obvious morbid interest with guns.

    On a more serious note; you guys do remember the countless times that Jack declared video games to be “mental masturbation”? I believe that Blagojevich’s failed legislation counts as legislative masturbation.

  16. 0
    Tye The czar says:

    I don’t use my worked up emotions to complain, I say give him a break, oy. HE doesn’t play video games. And all he hears about games is how violent they are, oy. That’s how predjudice is spread, which comes from naivete and ignorance. Just like William Blake’s poems ignorance is bliss, oy.

  17. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    yes time and moeny goes into trading votes and overlooking facts and info not to mention important floor time when they gather to pass and discus laws.

    If they pass a bad law and tis get over turned in court they have to pay up for the time wasted.

  18. 0
    RaZor ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I will stand up and say that I voted for Whitney (the Green Party candidate) in the Illinois Gubernatorial election this past year, because both Blago and Topinka (the Republican candidate) were really pathetic.

    That said, this doesn’t surprise me in the least. Blago loves to play with other people’s money, and is more concerned with what looks good in the papers over what is good government practice. And people wonder why Illinois is always struggling to figure out a budget for the next fiscal year before the house sessions end…

    Unfortunately, since the funds that Blago raided were a part of the general fund, they technically can be pulled for anything that is needed, and paying off legal expenses is technically a need. Nevermind that there is less money for other projects that are also needs in this state. As others have said, politicians don’t worry about the costs of things because it’s mostly coming out of other people’s wallets.

  19. 0
    Korrd says:

    Maybe GP should implement a rating system so I could give this story a 10/10.

    It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to anyone affected by Blagojevich’s thievery (what else can you call it, really?). I certainly am, and I think everyone, Illinois residents especially, should be outraged.


    This is as perfect an example as we could hope for of what happens when politicians act irresponsibly. Now we can only hope that all the others take notice.

  20. 0
    Zoness says:

    Sad thing is…my state’s people put this man in charge and he WON electons again…Gee talk about embarassing, he lacks integrity on the issue of gaming (like most others in office) but he is just an all around bad governor if you ask me.

  21. 0
    MachShot says:

    In Arkansas, we value our children and understand where the goverment should take charge and where the parents should take charge. If we had a govenor who did this, he would be out of that office via angry mob with SKS’s. I feel sorry for the people here who live in Illinois. What an insult this must be.

  22. 0
    LightWarrior ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Well it may not have been from his own pocket as so many people wish for with politictains paying for these bills.

    But it certainly is still good enough for me to see he plan to look good…by trying to “protect the childern”…..backlash at a horriable price. (pun intended)

    This isn’t something that is going to be brushed off easily….health care?….a big no no……he’s burned…..his going down…he’s a failure…

    I’m happy this happend…though I KNOW this isn’t going to be a lession for other polititans….sadly enough.

    Still while not from his own pockets….this is good enough of a punishment for me. 😀

  23. 0
    Mad_Scientist ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Tye the Czar

    You said give the guy a break. Well, I can forgive ignorance in many people in many cases. After all, there are many issues out there that I know very little about. I’m quite ignorant about some things, I admit. The thing is, if I was ever put in a postion of power regarding one of those issues, I’d want to make sure I knew as much as possible before making any decisions.

    If a politician who never deals with video game issues is ignorant about video games, I don’t care too much, but once one finds himself voting on a law involving video game legistlation, or considering proposing such a law himself, it is his DUTY to make sure he’s no longer ignorant. “I didn’t really know what I was voting on” seems a pretty poor excuse.

    True, video games are relatively minor issue compared to many things, but if I can’t trust a guy on the little things, then I’m not going to trust him very much on the big things.

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