EPA To Provide Millions to Clean Up Beaches

   WASHINGTON – 1/31/2012 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Jan. 31 that it will provide $9.8 million in grants to 38 states, territories and tribes to help protect the health of swimmers at America’s beaches. The agency also launched an improved website for beach advisories and closings, which will allow the public to more quickly and easily access the most current water quality and pollution testing information for more than 6,000 U.S. beaches.
   The website, called BEACON, has the capability to update as frequently as every two hours based on new data provided by states, territories and tribes. Users will have access to mapped location data for beaches and water monitoring stations, monitoring results for various pollutants such as bacteria and algae, and data on public notification of beach water quality advisories and closures. For the first time, users can also access reports that combine notifications and water quality monitoring data. The enhanced system also uses enhanced map navigation and report display tools.
    The majority of beach advisories and closures in the United States are due to water test results indicating bacterial contamination, which can make people sick. Bacterial contamination comes from a variety of sources. Some examples are sewer overflows, untreated stormwater runoff, boating wastes, wildlife and pet waste, and malfunctioning septic systems.
   During each swimming season, state and local health and environmental protection agencies monitor the quality of water at the nation’s beaches. When bacteria levels in the water are too high, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach.
   The grants will help local authorities monitor beach water quality and notify the public of conditions that may be unsafe for swimming. This is the 12th year that EPA is providing beach grant funds, bringing the total amount EPA has made available to nearly $111 million.
As a result, the number of monitored beaches has more than tripled to more than 3,600 in 2010. Grant applications must be received within 60 days of publication of EPA’s notice in the Federal Register. EPA expects to award the grants later this year.
   View EPA’s enhanced beach advisory and closing information: http://watersgeo.epa.gov/BEACON2/
   More information on the grants: http://water.epa.gov/grants_funding/beachgrants/index.cfm
   Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency release

NIH Study: Caffeine Linked To Estrogen Changes

   (NIH) - 1/29/2012 - Asian women who consumed an average of 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day — the equivalent of roughly two cups of coffee — had elevated estrogen levels when compared to women who consumed less, according to a study of reproductive age women by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.
   However, white women who consumed 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day had slightly lower estrogen levels than women who consumed less. Black women who consumed 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day were found to have elevated estrogen levels, but this result was not statistically significant.
   Total caffeine intake was calculated from any of the following sources: coffee, black tea, green tea, and caffeinated soda.
   Findings differed slightly when the source of caffeine was considered singly. Consuming 200 milligrams or more of caffeine from coffee mirrored the findings for overall caffeine consumption, with Asians having elevated estrogen levels, whites having lower estrogen levels, and the results for blacks not statistically significant. However, consumption of more than one cup each day of caffeinated soda or green tea was associated with a higher estrogen level in Asians, whites, and blacks.
   The changes in estrogen levels among the women who took part in the study did not appear to affect ovulation. Studies conducted in animals had suggested that caffeine might interfere with ovulation.
   The study was published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
   "The results indicate that caffeine consumption among women of child-bearing age influences estrogen levels," said Enrique Schisterman, Ph.D., of the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the NIH institute where some of the research was conducted. "Short term, these variations in estrogen levels among different groups do not appear to have any pronounced effects. We know that variations in estrogen level are associated with such disorders as endometriosis, osteoporosis, and endometrial, breast, and ovarian cancers. Because long term caffeine consumption has the potential to influence estrogen levels over a long period of time, it makes sense to take caffeine consumption into account when designing studies to understand these disorders."
   The study authors noted that 89 percent of U.S. women from 18-34 years of age consume the caffeine equivalent of 1.5 to two cups of coffee a day.
   The study's first author was Karen C. Schliep, Ph. D., M.S.P.H., from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, who conducted the study during a research appointment at NICHD. Dr. Schliep undertook the research with Dr. Schisterman and colleagues at the University of Utah, the NICHD and the State University of New York at Buffalo.
   More than 250 women from 18 to 44 years old participated in the study between 2005 and 2007. On average, they consumed 90 milligrams of caffeine a day, approximately equivalent to one cup of caffeinated coffee.
   Most of the participants in the study reported to the study clinic one to three times a week for two menstrual cycles. Their visits were scheduled to correspond with specific stages of the menstrual cycle. At the visits, the women reported what they had eaten in the last 24 hours and answered questions about their exercise, sleep, smoking and other aspects of their lifestyle and reproductive hormone levels were measured in blood. The study authors noted that collection of these details during multiple time points across two menstrual cycles produced more precise information about the link between caffeine and hormones than was possible in earlier studies. The researchers also noted that the study participants were more racially diverse than those who took part in previous studies.
   Source: National Institutes of Health news release of  1/26/2012

Millions Returned To Victims in Corruption Scheme

    ROCHESTER, NY - 1/22/2012 - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced on January 18 that more than $10 million in forfeited property has been returned to the victims of one of the largest public corruption cases ever prosecuted in the Western District of New York. Those receiving restitution include the Eastman Kodak Company, the Town of Greece, IBM, ITT Industries, Inc., RG&E, and Global Crossing. The companies and town were all victims of real property tax appraisal and assessment schemes spearheaded by John Nicolo, a property appraiser.
   In 2005, John Nicolo, Mark Camarata, Charles Schwab, David Finnman, and others were arrested and later convicted of a variety of crimes including mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. The defendants schemed victims out of millions of dollars by artificially inflating tax assessments on properties they owned, and then causing John Nicolo to be hired by the companies in an effort to reduce the resulting tax assessments.
   Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Resnick, who prosecuted the case, stated that David Finnman and Mark Camarata, while working at Kodak, hired Nicolo to perform real property appraisal services for Kodak between 1997 and 2005. In return for hiring Nicolo, Finnman, and Camarata would receive money representing kickbacks from Nicolo. In addition, Charles Schwab, while the Greece Town Assessor, also received kickbacks from Nicolo in connection with various property tax assessment matters involving property located in Greece.
   The forfeiture aspect of the case resulted in considerable litigation over the several years following the criminal convictions. In February 2009, U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer ultimately agreed with the Government’s position and ordered over $12,000,000 in assets to be forfeited from the various defendants. The ruling spurred further litigation involving John Nicolo’s wife, Constance Roeder, who claimed that much of the money was hers and had nothing to do with Nicolo’s crimes. In November 2011, Judge Larimer approved a settlement which awarded the government more than $10 million and returned $2 million to Constance Roeder, which was determined not to have been involved in her husband’s appraisal fund.
   Of the $10,000,000 settlement, the Eastman Kodak Co. received $7,800,000 and the Town of Greece received $1,900,000. In addition, IBM received $70,000, RG&E $13,000, ITT Space Systems, LLC $633,000, and Global Crossing $33,750.
   The majority of the properties forfeited involved large financial accounts where John Nicolo concealed his illegal proceeds. Some of the accounts were valued in excess of several million dollars. Nicolo also forfeited BMW and Volvo automobiles and a Bentley, valued at $165,000, which was purchased with illegal cash just months prior to its seizure in 2005. In addition, Mark Camarata forfeited almost $1,000,000 and the government seized high-end vehicles and two residences from Charles Schwab, one of which was a home in an exclusive South Carolina golf community.
   Furthermore, a vacation home and a number of parcels overlooking Keuka Lake, worth approximately $500,000, are still to be sold. That money will be forfeited to the government and used to assist law enforcement in further criminal investigations in our community.
   Following the criminal prosecution, John Nicolo and Charles Schwab were sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, Mark Camarata was sentenced to 24 months, and David Finnman received 21 months.
   “This case sends a strong message that public corruption and corporate fraud will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “Those who attempt to make financial gains by victimizing others not only risk destroying their families but also losing their freedom. As this case demonstrates, our office is also fully prepared to utilize the federal forfeiture laws to take the ‘profit’ out of such crimes by stripping defendants of their illicit proceeds and returning them to innocent victims where they belong.”
   The successful prosecution and restitution are the result an investigation by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher M. Piehota; the Internal Revenue Service, under the direction Special Agent in Charge Charles R. Pine; the Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Robert Bethel; and the Greece Police Department, under the direction of Chief Todd K. Baxter.
   Source: Release, U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York (FBI, Buffalo Division).

Study: autoantibodies found in millions of people

   (NIH) - 1/19/2012 - More than 32 million people in the United States have autoantibodies, which are proteins made by the immune system that target the body’s tissues and define a condition known as autoimmunity, a study shows. The first nationally representative sample looking at the prevalence of the most common type of autoantibody, known as antinuclear antibodies (ANA), found that the frequency of ANA is highest among women, older individuals, and African-Americans. The study was conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health. Researchers in Gainesville at the University of Florida also participated.
   Earlier studies have shown that ANA can actually develop many years before the clinical appearance of autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. ANA are frequently measured biomarkers for detecting autoimmune diseases, but the presence of autoantibodies does not necessarily mean a person will get an autoimmune disease. Other factors, including drugs, cancer, and infections, are also known to cause autoantibodies in some people.
   "Previous estimates of ANA prevalence have varied widely and were conducted in small studies not representative of the general population," said Frederick Miller, M.D., Ph.D., an author of the study and acting clinical director at NIEHS. "Having this large data set that is representative of the general U.S. population and includes nearly 5,000 individuals provides us with an accurate estimate of ANA and may allow new insights into the etiology of autoimmune diseases." The findings appear online in the Jan. 11 issue of the Journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.
   Miller, who studies the causes of autoimmune diseases, explains that the body’s immune system makes large numbers of proteins called antibodies to help the body fight off infections. In some cases, however, antibodies are produced that are directed against one's own tissues. These are referred to as autoantibodies.
   A multi-disciplinary team of researchers evaluated blood serum samples using a technique called immunofluorescence to detect ANA in 4,754 individuals from the 1994-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The overall prevalence of ANA in the population was 13.8 percent, and was found to be modestly higher in African-Americans compared to whites. ANA generally increased with age and was higher in women than in men, with the female to male ratio peaking at 40-49 years of age and then declining in older age groups.
   "The peak of autoimmunity in females compared to males during the 40-49 age bracket is suggestive of the effects that the hormones estrogen and progesterone might be playing on the immune system," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of NIEHS and an author on the paper.
   The paper also found that the prevalence of ANA was lower in overweight and obese individuals than persons of normal weight. "This finding is interesting and somewhat unexpected," said Edward Chan, Ph.D., an author on the study and professor of the Department of Oral Biology at the University of Florida.
   "It raises the likelihood that fat tissues can secrete proteins that inhibit parts of the immune system and prevent the development of autoantibodies, but we will need to do more research to understand the role that obesity might play in the development of autoimmune diseases," said Minoru Satoh, M.D., Ph.D., another author on the study and associate professor of rheumatology and clinical immunology at the University of Florida.
   The researchers say the paper should serve as a useful baseline for future studies looking at changes in ANA prevalence over time and the factors associated with ANA development. The paper is the first in a series analyzing this data from the NHANES dataset, and exploring possible environmental associations with ANA. The NIEHS supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health and is part of NIH.
   Source: National Institutes of Health release of 1/12/2012.

Leader in large-scale identify theft ring pleads guilty

    NEWARK, NJ - 1/16/2012 - The leader of a fraud ring that engaged in identity theft and financial crimes which have led to charges against 54 individuals admitted January 9 to directing the large scale, sophisticated criminal enterprise, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman has announced.
   Sang-Hyun Park, a/k/a “Jimmy,” 45, of Palisades Park, N.J., pleaded guilty to a five-count information charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and false identification documents (count one); conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting financial institutions and bank fraud (count two); aggravated identity theft (count three); money laundering (count four); and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (count five).
   Ho K. Yu, a/k/a “Edmund,” 59, of Tenafly, N.J.—a co-conspirator who fraudulently established credit scores for the enterprise’s customers and fraudulently obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in commercial loans for others—also pleaded guilty today to a three-count Information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting financial institutions.
   Park was arrested on Sept. 16, 2010, in a coordinated law enforcement takedown of 53 individuals in connection with widespread, sophisticated identity theft and fraud, including 43 other individuals charged along with Park with participating in one large-scale criminal enterprise. Yu was arrested and charged the next day.
   “Today, ‘Jimmy’ Park admitted he ran an organization which obtained social security numbers through fraud, manufactured fake IDs, ripped off banks and retailers, and laundered a portion of millions in profits overseas,” Fishman said. “This criminal enterprise combined traditional identity theft with sophisticated credit card fraud, and dismantling it is a signal success in combating the emerging problem of international organized crime.”
  Both defendants pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz in Newark federal court. According to documents filed in these cases and statements made in court:
   “Sang-Hyun ‘Jimmy’ Park was the head of a New Jersey crime conglomerate which advertised, facilitated, and supported a multitude of frauds resulting in staggering economic losses,” Special Agent In Charge of the FBI’s Newark Division Michael B. Ward said. “Park and his cohorts supervised as willing participants obtained social security numbers with false identities, applied for out of state driver’s licenses utilizing these identities, quickly built fraudulent credit histories, and then opened bank and credit accounts. Afterwards, Park and associates would commit various frauds with the assistance of collusive merchants and others steeped in white-collar crime. The criminal activity was sophisticated, and was designed to evade detection from law enforcement.”
 Sang-Hyun Park 
   Sang-Hyun Park, a/k/a “Jimmy,” was the leader of a criminal organization (the ‘Park Criminal Enterprise”) headquartered in Bergen County, N.J., that obtained, brokered, and sold identity documents to customers for the purpose of committing credit card fraud, bank fraud and tax fraud. As part of the scheme, the Park Criminal Enterprise obtained Social Security cards beginning with the prefix “586.” Social Security cards with that prefix were issued by the United States to individuals, usually from China, who were employed in American territories, such as American Samoa, Guam, and Saipan. The Park Criminal Enterprise sold the cards to its customers and then escorted the customers to various states to use them to obtain identification cards and driver’s licenses.
   The Park Criminal Enterprise then engaged in the fraudulent “build up” of credit scores associated with these fraudulently obtained identities. They did so by adding these identities as authorized users to the credit card accounts of various co-conspirators who received a fee for this service—members of the enterprise’s credit build up teams. By attaching the identities to these existing credit card accounts, the teams increased the credit scores associated with the identities to between 700 and 800. The members of the build up teams knew neither the real person to whom the identity belonged nor virtually any of the customers who had purchased the identities.
   After building the credit associated with these identities, Park and his co-conspirators directed, coached, and assisted his customers to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards. Park and his co-conspirators then used these accounts and credit cards to commit fraud. In particular, Park relied on several collusive merchants who possessed credit card processing, or swipe, machines. For a fee, known as a “kkang fee,” these collusive merchants charged the fraudulently obtained credit cards, although no transaction took place. After receiving the money into their merchant accounts from the credit card elated to these fraudulent transactions, the collusive merchants gave the money to Park and his co-conspirators, minus their “kkang fee.”
   Among other things, Park admitted that he operated the criminal enterprise out of several offices in Bergen County, N.J., ran advertisements in local newspapers to attract customers interested in his illegal services, met with customers and other co-conspirators and otherwise directed the activities of the criminal enterprise. He also admitted that he obtained and sold 586 social security cards to his customers and members of his criminal enterprise escorted more than 100 customers to various states so they could fraudulently obtain identification cards and driver’s licenses using the 586 Social Security cards and other fraudulent documents—such as counterfeit Chinese passports.
   Park also admitted he conspired with and paid cash to various “build up teams,” which included Yu, to build the credit scores and establish credit histories for the fraudulent identities that he had sold to his customers. Park also told Judge Shwartz he laundered portions of the money he obtained through the fraud by wiring the money to various accounts in South Korea.
   In total, Park defrauded various credit card companies, banks, and lenders out of approximately $4 million. He and his co-conspirators also claimed more than $182,000 in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service through the filing of false and fictitious tax returns and accompanying documents.
   At sentencing, Park faces a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on count one; 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on count two; a two-year mandatory minimum term in prison on count three; 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on count four; and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on count five. Sentencing for Park is currently scheduled for April 23, 2012. He is currently detained.
Ho K. Yu
   Yu admitted his role in three separate conspiracies, including that from 2001 through 2002, he conspired with others to fraudulently obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in small business loans for unqualified borrowers. To obtain these commercial loans, Yu and his co- conspirators submitted false loan applications and supporting documents to a lender. The vast majority of these loans defaulted, resulting in significant losses to the lender.
   Yu also admitted that between 2006 and January 2009, he conspired with others to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal business loans for unqualified borrowers. In furtherance of this conspiracy, Yu and a co-conspirator manufactured false tax returns and W-2 forms and submitted them with bogus loans applications to lenders. The vast majority of these loans defaulted, resulting in significant losses to the lenders.
   Finally, Yu admitted that he conspired with Park and others by fraudulently building credit scores for Park’s customers who were using 586 identities. Yu acknowledged that he received approximately $500 in cash for each identity he added to his accounts. In total, Yu and his co-conspirators caused in excess of $2.5 million in losses to banks, credit card companies, and other lenders.
   At sentencing, Yu faces a maximum potential 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each of the three counts to which he pleaded guilty. Sentencing for Yu is currently scheduled for April 23, 2012.
   U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ward in Newark; IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff; the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew M. McLees; the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Inspector General Jon T. Rymer; and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor John L. Molinelli and the Office’s Chief of Detectives Steven Cucciniello for their work leading to the guilty pleas.
   The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barbara R. Llanes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division and Anthony Moscato of the Office’s Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.
   Numerous members of the Park Criminal Enterprise have pleaded guilty to various offenses in support of the enterprise’s fraudulent schemes. As for the defendants with pending charges, the charges and allegations contained in the charging documents against them are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
   Source: U.S. Attorney's Office news release, FBI Newark Division

Gas Drilling Doublespeak; Landowners Speak Out

   Washington D.C. – 1/11/2012 - Gas drilling companies routinely warn their investors of a litany of possible disasters – such as leaks, spills, explosions, bodily injury and even death – but regularly fail to mention these risks when persuading landowners to sign leases for drilling rights, an Environmental Working Group investigation found.
   EWG researchers compared federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings and natural gas drilling leases used by major companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling and found that, at best, the leases offered only vague mentions of risks that are explicitly listed in the legally required SEC reports. Twenty-three landowners in five states who had signed or been asked to sign drilling leases also told EWG that company representatives who offered the leases made no mention of possible risks.
   “These landowners who were left in the dark about drilling risks are likely just the tip of the iceberg,” said EWG senior counsel Dusty Horwitt, J.D. “Industry documents, regulators and lawyers all indicate that there may be thousands of landowners who unknowingly put their water, homes and health at risk by signing natural gas leases. It’s time to level the playing field so that landowners know the facts about drilling before they sign a lease.”
   Federal law designed to protect investors against fraud requires companies to disclose “the most significant factors that make the offering speculative or risky.” But in the midst of perhaps the largest natural gas rush in U.S. history, there has been little or no regulation of the transactions that give drilling companies access to private lands atop gas and oil reserves.
   “We were never told about any kind of risks whatsoever,” Craig Sautner of Dimock, Penn., told an EWG researcher. Craig and his wife Julie leased about 3 1/2 acres to Houston-based Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. in 2008.
   Water wells serving the Sautners and 18 other nearby families were contaminated and became unusable after Cabot began drilling in 2009, according to Pennsylvania officials. Cabot, which has publicly disputed the finding, did not respond to EWG’s request for comment. The state recently lifted an order requiring Cabot to provide replacement water to the families over the objection of the Sautners, who say their well water is still contaminated. Several affected residents in Dimock, including the Sautners, have sued Cabot for damages.
   The company’s 2008 10-K form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission contains explicit warnings that appear nowhere in the Sautners’ lease agreement and that the couple says never came up in their discussions with company representatives:
   “Our business involves a variety of operating risks, including: well site blowouts, cratering and explosions; equipment failures; uncontrolled flows of natural gas, oil or well fluids; fires; formations with abnormal pressures; pollution and other environmental risks; and natural disasters.
   “Any of these events could result in injury or loss of human life.”
   The pollution in Dimock is not an isolated incident. State officials in Wyoming, Ohio and Colorado have documented recent cases of water contamination linked to natural gas drilling, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has documented serious problems associated with drilling as far back as 1987. On Thursday, Dec. 8, the EPA also concluded that fracking could be responsible for a case of groundwater contamination in Wyoming.
   EWG’s report calls on states to require that companies disclose drilling risks to landowners in the same way the SEC requires it for shareholders.
   The report is available online at: http://static.ewg.org/pdf/Drilling_Doublespeak.pdf.
For more information on gas and oil drilling, visit: http://www.ewg.org/gas-drilling-and-fracking.
   Source: Environmental Working Group release, 12/12/2011

Presidential delegate filing highlights Illinois' role

By Benjamin Yount, Stephanie Fryer and Anthony Brino
Illinois Statehouse News
   SPRINGFIELD - 1/8/2012 - While the Republican presidential candidates are in New Hampshire this weekend, their surrogates are trying their best to bring the one-upmanship of the race to Illinois.
   January 6 was the last day for the 2012 GOP presidential campaigns to file their delegates with the state Board of Elections.
   Illinois State University political science professor Bob Bradley said the delegate slates help gauge the strength of a campaign, if not the candidate.
   "That's why you pay attention to these filings," Bradley said. "You have to see who is on these delegate lists. They could be the next up-and-comers in the party. You also get a sense of who is important."
   The delegates, chosen from each of the Illinois' 18 Congressional Districts in the March primary, will go to the national nominating conventions where they will vote on the nominee for president. This year, the conventions will be held in August in Tampa, Fla., for the Republicans and September in Charlotte, N.C. for the Democrats.
   Illinois Republicans will send 108 delegates in all, but only 54 will vote for a presidential candidate. The other 54 will serve as alternates. Democrats will send 123 to their convention for President Barack Obama.
   Delegates are elected individually from each of the state's 18 Congressional districts. Voters have to chose the delegate by name; a vote for the candidate is not counted as a vote for that candidate's delegates.
   Newt Gingrich's and Rick Santorum's Illinois campaigns were among the last-minute filers Friday.
   Gingrich's Illinois campaign chairman Keith Hansen said voters shouldn't read too much into filing on the last day or the lack of a "headline" name on the delegate or alternate list.
  "We've had conversations with some prominent names in the political community in Illinois, and they have agreed to join our state campaign committee," Hansen said. "We will be making some of those announcements next week."
   Among the delegates for the former U.S. House Speaker are state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, state Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, and former state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville.
   The Georgia native’s team filed a full slate of 54 delegates and four alternates.
   Santorum's delegate list is light on lawmakers, but full of some of Illinois' bigger conservative names. Santorum's campaign filed a slate of 47 delegates and 40 alternates.
   "What you find is many of Illinois' tea party leaders, pro-life and pro-family leaders as well," said Jon Zahm, spokesman for Santorum's Illinois campaign.
   Former Republican state Rep. Al Salvi and his wife have filed as Santorum delegates as have Irene Napier, the head of the anti-abortion group, the Right to Life of McHenry County, and David Smith, chairman of the conservative political group, the Illinois Family Action pack.
   Mitt Romney's campaign was the first of the GOP candidates to file its list of supporters. The campaign for the former Massachusetts governor also filed a full slate of 54 delegates and 54 alternates.
   Romney's Illinois campaign chairman and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford said he was first in line Tuesday with his slate of supporters.
   Joining Rutherford on the Romney team are state Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale, state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, and state Rep. Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg.
   Supporters of Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul filed their 54 delegates and 54 alternates earlier this week, but that list is absent of any state lawmakers.
   Andrew Craig, Moline delegate for Paul, said Paul supporters don't need or, in many cases, want big-name politicians representing their cause.
   "I think it's more important to have average, everyday citizens," Craig said. "We don't need to be supported by the political class."
   There are no delegates who filed for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's campaign.
   The delegate list for Obama reads like the who’s who of prominent Democrats, including state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, and state Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan. 
   Bradley said people selected to be delegates are known commodities in the political world, but he adds that "going to a convention is a cool perk."
   But the conventions, Bradley said, will not decide the candidates. The race for the GOP nomination will probably be over long before the August convention, he said.
   "You have one or two candidates who stay in the race no matter what," Bradley said. "But for the most part the race will be over by the Super Tuesday primary."
   Super Tuesday is the multi-state primary on March 6. Voters in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia go to the polls and select the GOP presidential nominee.
   Story courtesy of Illinois Statehouse News

The Arms Debate

Not All American's Have the Right to Bear Arms

Photo by Steve Rensberry (c) 2018