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George Ryan Trial ::
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Ryan daughter tells of no-work job

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January 19, 2006

Former Gov. George Ryan's five daughters dodged the witness stand in their father's public corruption trial Wednesday.

Instead, they testified through written statements about cash or campaign money they got from him

One daughter, Lynda Fairman, said that while in financial straits in 1996, she called her dad for help. Ryan told her he'd put her husband, Michael, on his Citizens for Ryan campaign payroll.

"Can you do that?" she asked him, according to her statement. "Yes, there's nothing wrong with it," she said Ryan told her.

Michael Fairman received $55,000 from the campaign from 1996 to 1997. But Lynda Fairman admitted her husband never did any consulting work for Ryan.

The couple, who filed for bankruptcy in 1997, reported that income on tax forms. Prosecutors charge that Ryan should have reported that on his taxes, but didn't.

'I did political work on state time'

Ryan, 71, is charged with steering state contracts and leases to his friends such as co-defendant Lawrence Warner, while taking financial perks from them. Both men deny the charges.

Ryan's onetime campaign finance director testified Wednesday that she regretted doing political work on state time. "I did political work on state time," said Deb Detmers, who now works for Downstate Congressman John Shimkus. "That was wrong, I shouldn't have done it, I apologize."

Detmers also testified about Ryan's use of his campaign fund, which prosecutors allege he used as his personal piggy bank.

She said in 1994, as Ryan sought re-election as secretary of state, his chief of staff, Scott Fawell, called her, upset because of an apparent $100,000 shortfall from what she had listed in her records. Detmers insisted she did not make an error, but said Fawell didn't believe her. But later, Fawell told her he discovered that it wasn't her mistake. Ryan admitted he took the money in case he lost the race, she said Fawell told her.

Ryan lawyer Dan Webb suggested Ryan didn't want to get stuck paying off big campaign debts, especially if he lost.

nkorecki@suntimes.com