UPDATED: Coalition Calls for Investigation into Corporate CEOs Who Lobbied for Illinois Bond Downgrades

UPDATE (August 7, 2013): We Are One Illinois Responds to Ty Fahner's Statement that He "Misspoke" about Lobbying for Credit Rating Downgrades

Ty Fahner, president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, now claims that he "misspoke" in saying that he and other committee members lobbied in favor of downgrading Illinois credit ratings before the main three rating agencies.

Additional background is available on Fahner's response yesterday at Capitol Fax at the following link: http://capitolfax.com/2013/08/06/fahner-i-misspoke/

The video of Fahner's original remarks is available on YouTube, courtesy of the Illinois Channel, at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ7ejQoBoJc&feature=youtu.be&t=46m32s

The statement below is attributable to the We Are One Illinois union coalition in response:

“Before a friendly audience behind closed doors in March, Ty Fahner claimed credit for driving down the state’s bond rating–and thereby raising costs to all taxpayers. Now, under growing public scrutiny, he says that wasn’t true.

“Fahner’s delayed attempt to deny that those efforts took place results in more questions than answers. If there’s nothing to hide, why is he trying to backtrack now? Why would he mislead the public in the first place?

“Did members of the Civic Committee speak to the ratings agencies — as Fahner clearly stated initially? If so, what transpired? Did any Civic Committee members profit from these actions? How did the role of Fahner’s law firm as state bond counsel and the role of many Civic Committee members as bond underwriters impact their efforts to lobby to reduce the state’s rating?

“Ultimately, which story should the public believe? Every Illinoisan deserves to know what really happened. We urge elected officials and the news media to demand answers to these lingering questions, uncover what occurred, and examine whether formal consequences are warranted.”


ORIGINAL POST (July 24, 2013): We Are One Illinois Calls for Investigation into Civic Committee’s Lobbying Efforts to Lower Illinois’ Credit Ratings

The We Are One Illinois union coalition released the following statement in response to the revelation by Ty Fahner, president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, that members of the Civic Committee lobbied the three major credit rating agencies to downgrade Illinois' bond ratings:

"Ty Fahner and unnamed members of his corporate-backed committee have shown their true colors. Fahner bragged openly about joining members of the business-backed group, behind closed doors, in lobbying credit rating agencies to lower Illinois' bond ratings in an irresponsible and unethical attempt to put the state in an even more difficult position. They show total contempt for the taxpaying public, total disregard for the difficult fiscal challenges the state faces, and total hypocrisy over their alleged care for the working families of Illinois.”

In addition, a serious conflict of interest may exist if either these unnamed CEOs or the big corporations they control profited in any way from lobbying to make Illinois pay more interest on its bonds -- bonds which they or their corporations may hold.

Governor Pat Quinn should coordinate with the appropriate state and federal authorities to launch a full investigation into this matter. The public has a right to know whether any laws were violated and how much financial injury the Illinois taxpayers suffered at the hands of the corporate elite."

Yesterday, Capitol Fax shared a video of Fahner speaking before the Union League Club, where he said, "Me and some of the people that make up the Civic Committee...did meet with and call...Moody's and Fitch [Ratings] and Standard and Poor's...and say, 'How in the hell can you guys do this [maintain the state's credit rating]? You know, you are an enabler to let the state continue. You keep threatening more and more and more.'"

Fahner then took credit for the subsequent downgrades to Illinois' credit ratings, stating, "But if you watch what happened in the last few years, it's been steadily down. Before that, it's been the blind eye."

The video is available at the following link with relevant remarks beginning around the 47-minute mark or viewable below: http://capitolfax.com/2013/07/23/fahner-civic-committee-helped-jaw-down-states-bond-rating/

Representing hundreds of thousands of public employees, retirees, and taxpayers, We Are One Illinois is calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to coordinate with relevant authorities to launch a full investigation.