- James R. Thompson
name= James Thompson
office= Governor of Illinois
January 10, 1977
January 14, 1991
Dave O'Neal(R) George Ryan(R)
birth_date= birth date and age|1936|5|8
spouse= Jayne Ann Carr Thompson
James Robert Thompson, Jr. (born
May 8, 1936), also known as "Big Jim Thompson", was the longest-serving Governor of the U.S. stateof Illinois. [http://www.winston.com/index.cfm?contentID=24&itemID=10873 Winston & Strawn LLP: James Thompson, Partner] , "Winston & Strawn LLP". Accessed August 12 2008.] A Republican, Thompson was elected to four consecutive terms (the first of which was a transitional two-year term, as Illinois changed to an off-Presidential year gubernatorial election), and held the office for 14 years. Many years after leaving public office, he re-entered the spotlight as a member of the 9/11 Commission, gaining notoriety for his strong disagreements with former counter-terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke. [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,993731,00.html How Credible Is Clarke?] , by Amanda Ripley, "TIME", April 4 2004. Accessed August 12 2008.]
Early life and career
Chicago, Illinois, Thompson studied at the University of Illinois at ChicagoNavy Pier campus, and received his A.B.from Washington University in St. Louis. He received his J.D.from Northwestern Universityin 1959.
Prior to becoming governor, he worked in the Cook County state's attorney's office, taught at Northwestern University's law school and served as
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. As a federal prosecutor in the early 1970s, he obtained a conviction against former Governor Otto Kerner, Jr., for his use of improper influence on behalf of the racetrackindustry. He also tried and convicted many of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's top aides, most notably Alderman Tom Keaneand County Clerk Matt Danaher, on various corruption charges. People like Keane and Danaher, the Mayor's point man on patonage were also major figures in the Cook County Democrat Party's political machine. These high-profile cases gave Thompson the celebrity which fueled his run for governor in 1976. To the chagrin of many, Thompson was very bipartisan in his attacks on corruption in Cook County and Chicago. He not only prosecuted ultra high profile Democrats, but also prominent Republicans such as County Commissioner Floyd Fulle and former U. S. Senate candidate, William Renchalier. Organized crime in Chicago was harder for his unit to crack and there were few high profile cases during his era.
Governor of Illinois
In the 1976 election, he won 65 percent of the vote over Democratic Secretary of State
Michael Howlett, for a two-year term. Thompson was re-elected in 1978 with 60 percent of the vote, defeating State Superintendent Michael Bakalis. In 1982, Thompson was very narrowly re-elected over former U.S. SenatorAdlai E. Stevenson III, in a disputed election; Thompson decisively defeated him in their re-match four years later. Thompson was accused of hiding the sad shape that Illinois' economy and budget were in while campaigning, but once elected, calling for an emergency session of the Illinois Legislature to address the crisis.
November 12 1980, Thompson, by his executive order, instituted a hiring freeze for all state agencies, boards, bureaus, and commissions under his control as governor. The order affected approximately 60,000 state positions. These positions could only be filled if the candidates were first approved by an office created by Thompson, the Governor's Office of Personnel. The practice essentially consisted of denying the hiring of persons not affiliated with the Republican Party by conducting inquiries into past Republican Party affiliation and possible future pledges of loyalty. Suit was brought and the Supreme Court held this political patronage practice unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment rights of low-level public employees in "Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois", 497 U.S. 62 (1990).
In 1993, the State of Illinois Center in Chicago was renamed the
James R. Thompson Centerto honor the former governor.
Private sector career
Since 1993, Thompson has served as chairman and CEO of
Winston & Strawn LLP, a large Chicago law firm. As chairman and CEO of Winston & Strawn, Thompson practices in the area of government relations and regulatory affairs as well as in international and domestic corporate and litigation matters. The firm has lobbied for American Airlines, and he has previously represented United Airlines.Fact|date=February 2007
Winston & Strawn is the same firm that represented former Illinois Governor
George Ryan pro bonoagainst federal charges relating to the "Licenses-for-Bribes" scandal during Ryan's tenure as Illinois Governor and Secretary of State. On April 17, 2006, George Ryanwas convicted on all 18 counts, which included racketeering, misusing state resources for political gain, and fraud. He was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in federal prison and began serving his sentence on November 7, 2007. Ironically, Thompson was also the Prosecutor of former Governor Otto Kerner, who was convicted of official corruption.
Thompson is also a director and head of the Audit Committee for
Hollinger International, the media company founded by Conrad Black(it is also now the subject of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissioninvestigation).
Post-gubernatorial political activities
In 2002 he was appointed to serve on the
9/11 Commission, where he aggressively questioned Richard Clarke, the former chief counter terrorism adviser on the United States National Security Council. [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,993731,00.html How Credible Is Clarke?] , by Amanda Ripley, "TIME", April 4 2004. Accessed August 12 2008.] The report of the commission was released on July 22, 2004.
Recently, Thompson came out in support of former
New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani's campaign for the 2008 Republican nomination. He stressed that Giuliani was the only Republican in the field that could win Illinois.
* [http://www.9-11commission.gov/about/bio_thompson.htm Thompson's biography from the 9/11 Commission]
* [http://www.law.northwestern.edu/inthenews/article_full.cfm?eventid=984 Thompson's biography from Northwestern University]
* [http://herndon1.sdrdc.com/cgi-bin/fecimg/?26020092423 Receipt for Thompson's contribution for Friends of Hillary]
cholarly Secondary Source
* Hartley, Robert E. "Big Jim Thompson of Illinois" (1979).
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