George Ryan

Trade Mission: Cuba

Oct 12, 2015
Rich Berning

A steady stream of American elected officials have traveled to Cuba since the two countries restored diplomatic ties over the summer.

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan is calling for legislation that would keep convicts from being labeled as felons for the remainder of their lives.

(Information in the following story is from: Chicago Sun-Times,  

A new TV show is set to focus on the grandchildren of a couple who lost six kids in a 1994 van crash linked to the investigation and conviction of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the show about the Tennessee-based Willis family will premiere May 5 on TLC.  

This month's inauguration of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner marks a change in leadership for lawmakers and employees at state agencies. But it's also a big transition for people who will deal with the new governor in a very different capacity over the next four years: political cartoonists.

Scott Stantis draws political cartoons for the Chicago Tribune. He says Bruce Rauner has very identifiable features.

A prosecutor-turned-private attorney has returned to the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago to take its No. 2 job.  

Joel Levin served for 28 years as a federal prosecutor in California, Wisconsin and Illinois. In Chicago, he helped prosecute former Illinois Gov. George Ryan for corruption. He entered private practice in 2008.  

Another Ryan prosecutor is Chicago's current U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon. Fardon announced the 60-year-old Levin's appointment as first assistant U.S. attorney Monday.  


Former Gov. George Ryan has finished a year of supervision following his release from home confinement last summer after a prison sentence for corruption convictions.

Ryan was released from prison in January 2013 and was confined to his home until last July. At the time his lawyer and friend former Gov. Jim Thompson said that Ryan was subject to another year of supervision and some travel restrictions. That ends this week.

Illinois Cuba Working Group

Back in 1999, then Governor George Ryan led a delegation to the island nation of Cuba.   Since that time, a number of Illinois Agriculture groups have been working to ease trade restrictions to the small nation.   The Illinois Cuba Working Group recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama hoping to expand trade opportunities between the nations.  


Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan says Nelson Mandela was instrumental in his 2003 decision to empty death row.  

Ryan addressed attendees gathered Sunday at the Chicago church of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who hosted a "people's tribute'' to the late South African leader.  

Ryan, a Republican, was released from prison earlier this year after serving more than five years on corruption charges. His roughly five-minute speech was one of his first public appearances since his release.  

Ryan and Mandela met in 2000 on a trade mission to South Africa.

 December Ninth is a significant day in Illinois' political history: for better, and for worse.

On Dec. 9, 2003 "the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act was signed into law," Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's David Morrison says.

That was Illinois lawmakers' response to the Hired Truck scandal that landed former Gov. George Ryan in prison. It created inspectors general with subpoena power, limited lobbyists' wining and dining of officials, and set conduct standards for state workers.


Former Gov. George Ryan says he's still adjusting to private life in the weeks since his release from home confinement.  
Ryan spoke briefly to The Associated Press Thursday from his home in Kankakee. He says he traveled to Springfield over the weekend to celebrate the birthday of his triplet daughters, one of whom lives in that city.  
He also visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Museum on Saturday with family.  

George Ryan: "Freedom's A Great Thing"

Jul 3, 2013

A cheerful, joking George Ryan has spoken outside his home after the former Illinois governor was released from home confinement.  
 Ryan spoke Wednesday afternoon in Kankakee, saying he felt good, physically and mentally.  
 Wednesday ended more than five years in federal custody for corruption. In January, he was released from an Indiana prison and moved to confinement at his home.  
 Ryan says he feels ``wonderful'' and that ``freedom's a great thing.''  
 Ryan says he's writing a book but didn't elaborate.  

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

If ominous winds are sending chills up and down the spines of the muckety-mucks frequenting the 16th floor of the James R. Thompson Center and the 5th floor of Chicago's City Hall, don't blame vagrant breezes off Lake Michigan.

Instead, look south a few blocks to the Dirksen Federal Building, where a few weeks ago a federal jury found former Gov. George Ryan and Chicago businessman Larry Warner guilty on all counts in a marathon public corruption trial.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

How much is enough? A few steak dinners? First-class flights to better fairways? A million or more in undeclared cash? What if even that is not enough? What if there is no enough?

Pat Guinane
WUIS/Illinois Issues

To hear him tell it, Scott Fawell never let good government get in the way of politics.

His approach wouldn't be unusual for a high-priced political consultant. The problem is, Fawell has "been on a lot of state payrolls." 

And it's hardly a revelation. Much of the first day of testimony in the federal corruption trial of former Gov. George Ryan focused on a faulty firewall between government and politics.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Changing governors isn’t as simple as calling the movers. For good or ill, departing residents of the Executive Mansion always leave something behind. 

Pundits will debate the relative pluses and minuses of George Ryan’s four-year tenure as Illinois’ chief executive — and there is an impressive trunkful of stuff to rifle through. Historians will assess the legacy of this endlessly complex politician. Even philosophers might weigh in on the stunning personal transformation of this confounding and complicated man. 

Paralyzed by scandal, yet one of the most active Illinois governors in recent memory. A political version of Donald Trump in his love of the deal, yet unable to focus on the all-important details. Loved by political insiders, yet increasingly mistrusted by much of the public. These are a few of the paradoxes that define George Ryan. The most poignant, though, is that this lifelong public servant had waited an entire career to become governor, yet was never able to become the leader he had hoped after moving into the Executive Mansion.

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Edward Spreitzer doesn’t contest the guilty verdict against him. Nor does he dispute the horrid nature of the murder that landed him on Death Row. He simply argues the justice system that tried and convicted him is broken, just as Gov. George Ryan says it is, and that, therefore, his death sentence should not stand.

This is a bold legal argument, to say the least. But the courts won’t be deciding this case: The governor will. And if any argument should persuade Ryan to grant relief to Spreitzer, this evidently is the one.

Matthew Bettenhausen wears lots of hats, all of them tall. Increasingly, this top adviser to Gov. George Ryan is a central figure in some of the state’s most contentious issues. He wants to keep a low profile — he’s an aide, after all, not an elected official. Nonetheless, he manages to cast a long shadow across Ryan’s agenda, including the governor’s ongoing efforts to reform the death penalty.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Facing perhaps the worst fiscal crisis in state history, Illinois lawmakers chose an equally unprecedented remedy — selling long-term bonds — to help fill a $1-billion-plus hole in the state’s day-to-day operating budget.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As the 2001 baseball season winds down, fans across the nation are saying farewell to a pair of the game’s best, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken Jr. and San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn.

In similar fashion, the Illinois political scene is losing one of its top performers with the decision by Gov. George Ryan not to seek a second term.

With presidential politics behind them, Illinois' top two politicians, Mayor Richard M. Daley and Gov. George Ryan, are back to doing what they do best. Making deals. With each other.

National elections force guys like Daley and Ryan to be more partisan than they really want to be. Daley, a Bill Clinton stalwart who benefited greatly from the Bubba years, didn't waste time criticizing the outgoing president for his endless farewell tour. Now he can't cozy up to George W. Bush fast enough.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. George Ryan's approval ratings may have nosedived with the public, but he's still a popular fellow with state lawmakers.

A joint session of the General Assembly welcomed him warmly a few weeks ago when he presented his third State of the State message, and no doubt he'll get a similarly cordial reception over the next few weeks as he pushes his proposed budget for fiscal year 2002.

One governor revels in pork-barrel politics, arranges sweet deals for cronies and gruffly dismisses questions about corruption. Another governor challenges the party line on abortion and guns, reaches out to blacks and gays and offers bold legislation.

And both governors are George H. Ryan.