Maybe it grows on trees?

Media stories report that the George Ryan Legal Defense Fund has finally filed a report describing its finances. The report covers the period December 9, 2004-August 4, 2005, during which time the fund raised $240K and spent $369K. The report does not describe when the fund raised at least another $233K, nor if it spent any funds prior to December, 2004.

During the 2001-2002 reporting cycle, Citizens for George Ryan became a de facto legal defense fund, spending at least $1.8M on legal fees. That’s $78K a month; substantially more than the $53K a month the legal defense fund was spending, but then again, the PAC was paying legal defense for more than just George Ryan: they retained multiple law firms to cover several staffers who were then under investigation.

Ryan’s defense team has made much of his humble origins and modest lifestyle. His co-defendant even bragged about how cheap his suit cost. But let’s not forget that this is a guy who can summon large amounts of money when he wants to. Even out of office. And we have no idea how much of this cash came from former contractors, or others with less-than-pure motives. Until they release the names, we’ll never know.

In the meantime, the Fund is still raising money through this website. If it’s the site that’s bringing in so much cash, maybe ICPR should hire their webdesigners.