The pay-to-play Tom Cross.


On February 26, 2016, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the appointment of Tom Cross, former Republican leader of the Illinois House, to head the Illinois Board of Higher Education. According to the Illinois Pension Code, Cross will also serve as chairperson of the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) Board of Trustees.

-By Karl-Heinz Gabbey

In 2009, just after Madigan’s House of Representatives impeached Rod Blagojevich, Tom Cross sent me a form letter in which he justified his role in the impeachment; and that he would now work for “ethics reform.” I nearly choked. Who else got this letter? I was struck by the sanctimonious and hypocritical tone of his justification, particularly since I was quite aware that “pay-to-play” and Springfield fit hand-in-glove. Cross was no exception. I was particularly offended by Cross’ attempt to play us for fools. I called his office and unloaded all my indignation on his innocent staffer who, after my rant, asked me for my phone number. Phone number? Why did she ask me after I treated her so rudely?

To my complete astonishment, Cross called me at home the following morning, and we had a long conversation about “ethics and reform in government.” He was disarming and we had a civil discussion. At the end of our conversation, I asked him bluntly whether or not he had ever engaged in “pay-to-play.” There was a pregnant pause, a “dance,” and he never answered my question, when, as I recall, he needed “to get back to work.” I regret that during his “dance,” I didn’t stop him in his tracks to say I’ll take that as a “yes” answer.

If “pay-to-play” sent Rod to prison, a fair number of state legislators and senators should have been his cell mates, including Tom Cross. I didn’t know at the time that a sinister, corporate-financed organization devoted entirely to the corruption of our entire political process called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) existed, and that Tom Cross was and still is a prominent member.

Is it any surprise that Cross is in the forefront of “pension theft” again when this corrupt so-and-so sold his soul to the devil a long time ago?

3 Replies to “The pay-to-play Tom Cross.”

  1. This headline was in The Times of NW Indiana: Republicans offer new plan to fund social services. Here is a partial quote:

    “To cover the spending, Radogno’s bill is tied to a measure that would make changes to state pensions, including shifting costs associated with large end-of-career salary increases and salaries of more than $180,000 to local school districts and state universities. Those measures would save an estimated $750 million in general revenue next year, according to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration, which introduced them in its proposal for next year’s budget…

    Radogno is also asking Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, to attach his proposal for wider reforms to the state’s severely underfunded pension systems to the companion bill. Cullerton has proposed giving workers a choice between having future raises count toward their pensions or receiving yearly compounding cost-of-living raises in retirement.

    Savings from those changes, which have Rauner’s support but would inevitably face a court challenge, aren’t counted in the plan, Radogno said.”
    Name one school district or underfunded state university that has money for this. I’ve read that many colleges are on the verge of closing because of no funding.These Republicans don’t get it.

  2. I, too, had many civil conversations with Tom Cross about our pensions/benefits. I caught him in quite a few lies. He blamed everything on the IEA ( which didn’t surprise me then or now) – even when they weren’t at the table. He was all for our giving up what we had earned. I was thrilled to see him defeated. He is no friend to teachers and now we have to deal with his underhanded ways yet again.

  3. An old Republican trick used extensively by Reagan: if you want to disregard or weaken a law or agency, you appoint someone who would like the law weakened to be in charge of the agency that carries out the application and enforcement of that law. Reagan appointed anti-union people to head the Department of Labor and the NLRB. He appointed anti-worker people to run OSHA. He appointed pro-pollution people to run the EPA. They brought enforcement of these laws to an almost complete stop.
    Tom Cross, like Rauner, hates SURS and wants pensions stolen and benefits for SURS retirees cut.
    What better way to weaken SURS then to put Tom Cross in charge of the board. Rauner’s bond house buddies will have investments steered their way. They will make a killing on SURS pension funds. They won’t have to be competitive. They will have Tom Cross heading the board already stacked with Rauner appointees steering business their way.

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