Ill. Gov. Apologizes for Scandal
Jan. 28, 2000
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Gov. George Ryan says he has learned a lesson watching federal prosecutors chalk up convictions in a bribes-for-licenses scandal during his time as secretary of state.
Ryan apologized Thursday for corruption in the secretary of state's office, which he headed before becoming governor a year ago.
Workers in the office have admitted taking bribes in exchange for granting drivers licenses to unqualified people. The workers donated some of the bribe money to Ryan's campaigns.
A federal grand jury investigation has led to the indictments of 28 people. Seventeen have pleaded guilty.
``I'm angered because this corruption case has overshadowed the good things that we've done in the office,'' the Republican governor said at a news conference. ``I'm angry at myself for not recognizing the problem a lot earlier.''
Ryan has not been named as a target of the investigation and has repeatedly denied having any knowledge that his employees were collecting cash in exchange for fixing driver's license tests.
The Chicago Tribune, citing an unidentified source, reported today that federal investigators have interviewed Ryan in Chicago. Ryan said he has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the investigation.
The governor said he believes his campaigns were given around $150,000 by bribe-takers. He said he has donated about $90,000 to charity to make up for the tainted donations and will be giving more.
Ryan said he now sees that it was a mistake to let his government employees contribute to his campaigns. Ryan stopped taking such contributions once he became governor and said he may pursue legislation to ban the practice throughout state government.
``This has been a very difficult lesson for me, but I've learned it and I've learned it very well,'' Ryan said.