Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Hoffman's announcement for Illinois U.S. senate seat. Video. Speech text.

| 1 Comment

Below, from the Hoffman campaign......

Complete Text Of David Hoffman's Speech Announcing His Candidacy For US Senate
by: David Hoffman | 9/10/2009

Thanks to all of you for coming to Garfield Park today. I want to thank Senator Jeff Schoenberg for that wonderful introduction. Jeff has been a champion of reform in our state on many issues over many years, and I'm very grateful for his endorsement, and for endorsements from Senator Susan Garrett, Representative Elaine Nekritz, and Alderman Joe Moore, all of whom have been strong advocates for reform.

I also want to thank the two most important people in my life -- my lovely wife, Monique, and my son, Grayson - and so many other family members and friends who have joined me here today. I truly could not be here without all of you.

As you were coming here today, I hope everyone noticed this beautiful field house and its stunning golden dome. This is a place I got to know well as an Assistant U.S. Attorney when I was helping to lead the fight against gangs and gun violence in our communities.

As head of the anti-gang division in the US Attorney's Office, I worked side by side with federal and local law enforcement to take on gang leaders using new strategies.

But we knew that making our streets safer required more than just policing, and I also had the privilege of serving as head of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Justice Department's anti-gun violence program. Right here in Garfield Park, we created a new partnership between law enforcement and community leaders - some of whom are here today.

And while many great things were happening on the West Side at that time, 75 people were being gunned down just in this police district every year.
This neighborhood is filled with thousands of hard-working, law-abiding families. Their lives and their children's lives are threatened each day by gun violence. To me, this is an issue of social justice. Children can't learn and families can't thrive in an environment of constant fear.

But as a result of Project Safe Neighborhoods and other strong and innovative law enforcement and community efforts, gun homicides in these neighborhoods were cut dramatically. So when I drive to Garfield Park now, as I did many times before, and see the shining golden dome of this field house, it represents to me a beacon of hope for the future and a tangible statement that we deserve better. That these families deserve better.

We all know there's a lot more work to be done. There's still far too much gunfire on these streets. But we made sure that the hopes and dreams of the people in this neighborhood were heard and respected.

After years of prosecuting gang leaders and drug smugglers- along with crooked businessmen and white-collar criminals - I left the U.S. Attorney's Office to become Inspector General of Chicago.

That was a tough decision. But I felt that the IG's Office had the potential to become an independent force for taxpayers in the fight against corruption, clout and insider politics. I refused to accept - then and now - that government corruption is "just the way things are." Corruption costs all of us, and we should not tolerate it. We deserve better.

In my four years as Inspector General, my colleagues and I developed a strong and independent institution that challenged the system. We made criminal cases on wrongdoers and exposed waste, bad practices and questionable policies.
We had it firmly in our mind that our bosses were the taxpayers, plain and simple, and we worked hard to insist on accountability in our government. I am confident that those efforts will continue, thanks to a dedicated office with the expertise and independence to ferret out corruption, fraud and waste.

Earlier this year, I also had the privilege of being named to the Illinois Reform Commission, which was created by Governor Quinn in the wake of our second straight governor being arrested for, among other things, trying to sell this very Senate seat. The Commission was led by my friend and former colleague, Pat Collins, and was armed with a mission of recommending reforms to move Illinois beyond the culture of corruption and scandals of the past.

We traveled the state and heard from hundreds of people who are angry and frustrated at the state of our politics. With good cause, they told us their voices aren't being heard and their interests aren't being served. We heard their message loud and clear: We deserve better.

After months of study and debate, we issued a set of recommendations to reform state government; to make it more transparent and accountable. We did not water down what we had to say.

We believed the state needed strong medicine -- and we said so.

While we were disappointed with some of the results, some of our recommendations were adopted - including much of a section I wrote with the help of Jeff Schoenberg and others to reform the state's contracting process.

That experience of traveling around our state and hearing the frustrations of my fellow citizens convinced me of the need for people from outside the political system to run for elected office. People for whom reform and accountability aren't merely campaign words, but a steady and proven commitment; people with an established record of challenging business as usual on behalf of those without clout or connections.

In short, it's time to turn the page on politics-as-usual. And that's why I'm proud to announce today my candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

I know this campaign will not be easy. I'll never be the candidate of those who thrive in the current system - or the selfish interests they serve.

That's why this campaign will have to rely on everyday people across our state - the hundreds of people we heard from on the Reform Commission and the hundreds of thousands they represent.

For the person who needs a job but loses out because they don't have the right political connections, this campaign is for you.

For the family of a student with good grades who loses out on a chance to attend our state university because a less-qualified kid was clouted in, this campaign is for you.

For the small business that loses out on a state contract because the process is fixed, this campaign is for you.

For all those whose voices aren't heard, whose interests are ignored and whose tax dollars are wasted - this campaign is for you!

And I can't think of anyplace that needs a watchdog more than Washington, D.C., where billions of our tax dollars go every year.

After all, how did we get into the financial mess that nearly caused a second Great Depression; a crisis that cost millions of Americans their jobs and their hard-earned savings for college, retirement - even their homes?

It was the unchecked irresponsibility and greed of those on Wall Street who gambled our future, who filled their balance sheets with exotic financial instruments that few understood and that had little value. And all the while, most in Congress sat on their hands until Wall Street's house of cards collapsed on all of us.

Even as the financial mess was beginning to unfold, Congressman Mark Kirk voted against tougher regulation of the very subprime mortgages that were at the heart of the crisis. In fact, he marched in lockstep with the Bush-Cheney economic program -- right over the cliff.

And now that we've bailed out these institutions with billions of our tax dollars, who's watching out for the taxpayers while those responsible grab millions in salaries and bonuses? I'm ready and willing to take on that fight, because we deserve better.

Or take the current struggle in Washington for healthcare reform. The insurance companies have ratcheted up their campaign contributions and lobbying expenses. It's reported they're spending $1.4 million per day.

Does anyone really think those interests are working for us? Who's going to hold their feet to the fire so health reform means better coverage, lower costs, and more security for all of us - not just profits for them?

From spending on weapons systems we don't need to hidden congressional earmarks for wasteful projects, billions of our tax dollars are on the line every day. The people of Illinois deserve a watchdog in Washington willing to call 'em as he sees 'em. We need to make government accountable to the people who pay the freight.

That's been my record. And it's a fight I'll continue, if you give me that chance.

Now, I'm proud to be a Democrat and I always have been. Our party, at its best, stands up and fights for average people. But a dollar wasted by a Democrat is still a dollar wasted.

I don't believe in big government, but I do believe it is the duty of our government to protect the public interest and not to let powerful special interests run roughshod over the rest of us.

Smart, effective, efficient protection of the public interest - that's what our government must be. And Democrats who believe that government has a role in making our country better and stronger -- we must be the most vigilant in attacking waste and fraud.

For Democrats here in Illinois, there is one more thing we must be vigilant about. It's time for us to turn the page on the Blagojevich-Rezko era and nominate a candidate for U.S. Senate with no connection to the corrupt politics and cozy relationships of the past. We deserve better.

You know, I heard Congressman Mark Kirk say the other day that he's running for the Senate to end corruption in Illinois. Well, I have news for Mark Kirk; while you've just discovered a campaign issue, I've been leading this fight for years. And with help from everyday people across our state, I'll continue to do so in Washington.

Together, we will stand up to the insiders who put their thumb on the scale at all levels of government - whether it's through patronage jobs, government contracts or clouted admission to our public schools.

Together, we will stand up to those who steal our hard-earned tax dollars - whether it's through earmarks for campaign contributors or huge bonuses from government bailouts.

Together, we will stand up to those who serve the special interests instead of our interests - on healthcare; renewable energy; or cracking down on Wall Street's greed.

Together, we can send a message that the people of Illinois have had enough. That we deserve better. We're tired of business as usual and we are taking our democracy back.

That's been my cause and it's the message of this campaign. And with your help and support, we'll bring that fight all the way to Washington.

Thank you.
Post Comment

1 Comment

If you have to do it, you might as well do it right.,

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 11, 2009 12:26 PM.

Michelle Obama to Copenhagen to lead Chicago 2016 Olympic bid. Health care may ground Obama was the previous entry in this blog.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, Sept. 11, 2009. Remembering 9-11 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.