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*** UPDATED x1 - Madigan’s full letter *** Madigan fires back, and so, apparently, do some of his captains

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013

* Sun-Times

Stung by a weekend report on foot soldiers in his political army, House Speaker Michael Madigan delivered a harsh counter punch against a government watchdog group and its head, former broadcaster Andy Shaw, for engaging in a campaign to “impugn the Democratic Party.”

Madigan sent a letter on Democratic Party of Illinois letterhead to the 71-member House Democratic caucus and to members of the Democratic State Central Committee bashing Shaw and the Better Government Association for trying to “become a kingmaker in Illinois politics” and “tarnish Democratic candidates.” […]

In his Oct. 24 letter, which is only now arriving in mailboxes but was penned before the Sun-Times/BGA story was even published, Madigan targeted the door-to-door reporting on the project that aimed to verify that every petition circulator, in fact, accurately matched up with names contained on state, county and municipal payroll records, campaign-finance reports and pension records.

“Shaw has turned the organization’s focus toward the volunteer work of Illinois citizens who have exercised their First Amendment rights by circulating nominating petitions for me in previous years. The organization has gone so far as to harass these individuals at their homes,” Madigan wrote.

“Rather than work for positive change and reform in Illinois government, Andy Shaw has resorted to using bullying tactics against working men and women in an attempt to suggest they have done something improper,” the speaker and state Democratic Party chairman said. “The only thing these men and women have done is work to provide for their families while exercising their constitutional right to support Democratic candidates for office.”

* The BGA’s response…

The BGA is a nonpartisan watchdog organization that investigates public officials and public policies, and recommends reforms. We’ve been doing it for 90 years and sometimes our work makes people uncomfortable. Our only agenda is better government. We invite everyone, including Mike Madigan, to join us in this effort.

* Something quite interesting happened in comments yesterday. Several people claiming to be Madigan precinct workers posted comments about the original Sun-Times/BGA story. All of them had different IP addresses and none of them have commented here before using those IP addresses…

- Teddy - Tuesday, Oct 29, 13 @ 2:42 pm:

Remember when newspapers reported the news , not make it up ? How about you stick to your job, and stop harassing me and my family for your scoop . Last time I checked there is nothing wrong with helping out a candidate.

- Karen - Tuesday, Oct 29, 13 @ 3:28 pm:

These reporters are always trying to dig up dirt because they hate Mike Madigan. Well I don’t hate Mike Madigan because I know him, and that’s why I’ve knockef on doors and passed petitions for him. Have these people ever met him? He’s a nice guy who’s always been nice to me and appreciated my help. I thought reporters were supposed to be fair and unbiased, not pick out targets because they din’t like him.

- Ron Williams - Tuesday, Oct 29, 13 @ 4:21 pm

Now I am being harassed because I passed a petition for Mike Madigan. I have never been pressured to do so and have done it on my own time. I wonder why they didn’t include that fact even though it doesn’t fit the story they want to tell. These people don’t get it . Not everything is a scandal. Why don’t you go report some real news and leave me alone.

johnny o - Tuesday, Oct 29, 13 @ 5:02 pm:

these “reporters” just can’t stand that mike madigan outlasts and outsmarts everyone so they have to manufacture stories and theories to hurt working people like me. yes, i passed petitions for mike madigan because i wanted to. i was not forced too. can we expect these reporters to review the petitions of every other politician in illinois now? it would only be fair. if not, they’re nothing but a bunch of elitists with an agenda!!

- TMAC - Tuesday, Oct 29, 13 @ 10:12 pm:

I’ve passed a petition for Mike Madigan, I’ve passed petition for Mike Madigan for years. I was never pressured to do it. Interesting that they only report the “facts” that arer convenient for their story. They never report that I qork hard for my family and that I support Mike Madiganin my own free time. Last I checked we still live in America where I’m free to do this in my own time. I wonder when the article on other Illinois politicians will be published or if they’re only going to focus on Mike Madigan.

Discuss.

*** UPDATE *** Madigan’s letter in full…

Dear Friend:

Please allow me to take this opportunity to share some concerns with you about the apparent metamorphosis of the Better Government Association from a worthy, public advocacy group to an organization focused on partisan politics, lobbying and mustering opposition to Democratic candidates in Illinois.

Since 2010, the BGA has been on an unrelenting journey to become a kingmaker in Illinois politics through its campaign activities, despite rules prohibiting the group from engaging in political advocacy. Along the way, it has attempted to tarnish Democratic candidates while receiving financial support from my political opponents and opponents of the Democratic Party.

In 2010, the BGA’s top executive, Andy Shaw, made a self-admitted improper endorsement of a candidate for county office. More recently, Shaw has turned the organization’s focus toward the volunteer work of Illinois citizens who have exercised their First Amendment rights by circulating nominating petitions for me in previous years. The organization has gone so far as to harass these individuals at their homes. Rather than work for positive change and reform in Illinois government, Andy Shaw has resorted to using bullying tactics against working men and women in an attempt to suggest they have done something improper. The only thing these men and women have done is work to provide for their families while exercising their constitutional right to support Democratic candidates for office.

It is therefore not unreasonable to conclude that Andy Shaw has an agenda to impugn the Democratic Party. This hardly makes him an unbiased, impartial or independent observer.

Democratic candidates at all levels in Illinois will face many challenges in 2014, but I do not believe that these types of attacks from a government lobbying group posturing itself as a news organization should go unnoticed.

With kindest personal regards, I remain

Sincerely yours,

MICHAEL J. MADIGAN
Chairman, Democratic Party of Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller        


72 Comments
  1. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:07 am:

    I know the BGA story is the kind of thing people pick up on. It’s good reading material. My problem with it is that it implies that simply because people are passing petitions for somebody that they are on the take or that there is something sinister about it. Just because you work for the government doesn’t mean you give up your rights to participate in the political process. I don’t work for Madigan and I don’t pass petitions for anybody, but I don’t immediately come to a negative conclusion simply because somebody who happens to work for the government is engaging in the political process.


  2. - Amalia - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:09 am:

    Agree with Demoralized. however, the story creates transparency, and apparently some people think that is a problem.


  3. - Publius - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    Andy shaw came down to springfield a few months ago and hosted a meeting at the chamber of commerce offices. Gathered was a group of community leaders, most of them were, i believe, republicans, as am i. The thrust of the presentation was that the bga was planning to spend more time and attention on springfield. The presentation was, i thought very negative, did not appear to appreciate all the good things government dooes, and seemed aimed at gotcha approaches only. I talked to others afterwards. Our impression was not that shaw was interested in bringing about better government. Instead we felt he was here seeking leads on secrets that he could turn into instant headlines. I have no intention to associate further with him.


  4. - Tom Joad - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:18 am:

    It seems the BGA claims that some volunteers are passing petitions for Democrats. Those people also work in government. Therefore it follows, under BGA logic, that there must be something corrupt here. It must have been a slow news day to come up with this conspiracy theory.


  5. - langhorne - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:20 am:

    hey, its hard to maintain an “organization” (certainly not a machine) these days, but thats the way to do it. jobs = loyalty. you want to know that those running your petitions will do it right, and not cost big lawyer fees later on to defend.

    years ago i heard that the reason we have elected precinct commitemen, is mayor daley opposed making them appointed because, “if they cant get elected on their own block, why do i want them working for my election?”


  6. - Nosmo King - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:20 am:

    Kudos to the captains/circulators for defending themselves. I agree that the impression that is being created that implies impropriety for participating in the electoral process is unfortunate.

    Bruce Rauner is largely getting a pass for “helping his daughter” get into Payton Prep because “who wouldn’t help his daughter”? But a precinct captain who legally circulated petition and has a public-funded job is engaging in improper behavior. I don’t understand that reasoning.


  7. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:24 am:

    I didn’t have a problem with the story. I wasn’t shocked or outraged by it, either. It’s been a statewide practice since the crust cooled.

    The relationship between the Sun-Times and BGA needs a little more explaining, though, as does the relationship between BGA and its corporate sponsors.

    While the BGA claims to be a “non-partisan watchdog,” they, in fact, advocate and lobby for specific legislation.

    How does that rate space on the Sun-Times news pages? Who sets the agenda? A lot of their corporate sponsors are Civvie types and the BGA has a particular axe to grind with pensions.

    A little more transparency would be welcome there, too.


  8. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:24 am:

    The BGA might have a good history, as their response claims, but they have lost their way in the past couple of years.

    What next? Matching jobs with voting in a Party primary?


  9. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:25 am:

    I usualy ignore Andy Shaw until he gets “3rd Person”, then it just becomes funny.

    To the Post,

    No one should be ridiculed for the mere fact of circulatiing a petiton. If Andy Shaw has one of the 29 circulating on City/County/State time, using any of those listed’s resources in an unethical or illegal way, then I will stand with Andy Shaw and ding the Speaker.

    However,

    If 29 circulators follow the ethical and legal way to circualte, and they are also on payrolls or retirees for any level of government, what does that prove? The Dopey responses about taking power away from MJM and this would stop; News Flash… when MJM was Minority Leader, I am sure his circulators were also … retirees, employees of any level of government back then too.

    Politcal organizations are built to run and win elections, first and foremost. If you can’t win, you can govern. After winning, then comes the other aspects of the governing, which include jobs. Not once have I posted that an unqualified applicant should be, not only considered but, hired because they did anything, even if it was to get 100 sigantures on 10 sheets.

    When the academies for the Armed Forces stop with the recommendations for appointments from members of congress or the President, then I will ding the writing of letters for “John Smith for Foreman III” by any … ANY … legislator, mayor, alderman/councilman, whomever.

    You mean to tell me the newly sworn-in US Attorney had nota single letter of recommmendation to Illinois’ Senators or those senators, neither of them, sent a letter to the White House on the selection? Nope, the system, and the “courtesy” is the oppposite, with the Executive “asking” for recommendations.

    the rest of this is just Andy Shaw hoping to be quoted so he than can go “3rd Person”, puff his chest, at the expense of some volunteers, on their own time, who are helping the Committeeman get signatures for himself for state Representative…which has been done over and over and over again … as long as the letter of the law is followed.

    Finally, let’s be clear; you want those wanting to help you get on the ballot circulating your petitions, not 30 random people from the phone book, with no experience gathering signatures, in charge of your ballot access. Otherwise, you are just a candidate who is too busy worried about doing other things, and has to redo their petitions, because details are not a priorty.

    Do it once, do it right, have those know what they are doing…. do it.

    If rules are followed, there really isn’t a beef, unless your beef may be personal, and not really about the issue you are beefing about …


  10. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:26 am:

    I think the Speaker’s response here is a little over the top. Frankly, I suspect it draws more attention to the subject and is terribly shrill. They are usually much more skillful than that.


  11. - langhorne - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:26 am:

    the other gotcha story along these lines is when reporters look up people appointed to boards and commissions (generally for expenses at most), and then match them with political donations they made. i am not talking pay to play shakedowns like blago. i am talking about the two or three thousand other appointees who lend their expertise on some issue. i mean, wouldnt you expect people with an interest in government issues, might also contribute to like minded candidates?


  12. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:27 am:

    === Agree with Demoralized. however, the story creates transparency, and apparently some people think that is a problem. ===

    Transparency isn’t the problem. The problem is the blatant bias of Andy Shaw and the BGA. Did you know that Patrick Ward has a Master’s degree and 25 years of personnel experience? You wouldn’t have known that by the BGA report. And from what I understand the BGA was using some really dirty/threatening tactics in performing this investigation. Not only were they going to the houses of petition circulators, they were calling them at their jobs, calling their kids and other family members telling them that they better “watch out for the story coming in the newspaper”.

    And I thought the BGA claims that their mission is to bring about better government. If thats the case why are they trying to call public employees at their jobs to discuss politics/political work. Its a sham designed to get headlines so that they can raise money for their organization so that they can pay their salaries!


  13. - Amalia - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:29 am:

    was the BGA behind the Mirage scandal investigation and coverage in the Sun Times way back in the 70s? or was it Channel 2? in any event, it was Zekman and company undercover. work between multiple media outlets or not for profits with a print outlet is pretty standard fare for corruption coverage in Chicago and has been for decades.


  14. - Nosmo King - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:31 am:

    LincolnLounger:

    I humbly disagree. Look at Wordslinger’s comment about the BGA’s relationship with the Sun-Times. If the BGA wants to pretend that it is the newly constituted “City News Bureau” and lead investigations into corruption, it needs to disengage in the political process and sever it’s ties with arguably “anti-Democrat” entities including the corporations from which it solicits funding.


  15. - Nosmo King - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:34 am:

    Adding: I suppose “Better Government” is in the eye of the beholder. And in this case, the beholder is a discarded former journalist who has an axe to grind.


  16. - So. ILL - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:39 am:

    It’s about time some people did some hardcore impugning of the Democrat party. I mean, just take a look at the shape of the state. Democrats have presided over record tax hikes, billions in deficits, unpaid bills and pension obligations, and record unemployment. Democrat machine style politics of personal and professional annihilation and 40 years of one-man, one-party rule have all contributed to our sorry state. Madigan’s response is Bill Clinton-esque here. Though they are the dirtiest players in the game, you’d never know it. Raise one hand to them and they cower and cry like they are the victim. Tell me, how can a man like Madigan, cloaked in enormous wealth and power, be so shaken by this story on his petitions that he even responds to this? Maybe his skin is as thin as Obama’s. Toughen up Mike. The BGA story is nothing compared to what your political committees do to people at election time.


  17. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    If, as Anonymous above claims, the BGA folks called government employees at their work places to talk about political activities, then the BGA folks themselves were deliberately trying to create ethical violations.

    I thought some of the Madigan-supporter responses might be a bit overwrought, until I read that comment.

    As the beacon bearers for government virtue, they should know better.


  18. - Trudat - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:44 am:

    My recent experience was that their people were very negative close minded. Also, really was clear that it wasn’t the particular issue, rather it was all about drawing attention to the BGA. And yeah, I witnessed them bullying legislators with “bad press” while they lobbied bills.


  19. - Nieva - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    Good Job Andy! Any time you can get this many comments that are against you it has made somebody uncomfortable at the top and worker bees have been told to buzz on over here and put you in your place.


  20. - A guy... - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:48 am:

    I’m not a huge fan of MJM by any stretch. Suggesting that petition passers are forced when the comments suggest otherwise is dishonest. I didn’t see any report of petition passers saying they were happy to do it. Andy’s a pompous guy whose agenda is to merely promote himself. I met him at a luncheon and asked why we never see good examples of government. Better Government should indicate you’re looking for examples of “better government” too. His answer was that they had very limited resources and couldn’t afford to highlight good examples. I wanted to ask for my $150 back. Up close, he’s not a genuine guy.


  21. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:50 am:

    Sorry folks, but I’m not sure why exposing how a patronage organization works is somehow bad or evil. This was a solid story that exposed the level of integration between government jobs and political work.

    This was a rock solid story that obviously hit a nerve - thus the level of outrage from the Speaker and many of the folks on this board.


  22. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:51 am:

    I, for one, was mostly interested in the fact that the Madigan response came by regular mail.

    Who still sends stuff like this regular mail?

    I thought his organization would e-mail it out to everybody. Why delay four days with a response?


  23. - Collateral - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:52 am:

    Emily Miller, how was your morning?

    Emily is the BGA’s talented and capable lobbyist in Springfield. Her session just got torpedoed by Andy Shaw’s ego.


  24. - austinman - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:53 am:

    About time someone snapped back at Andy Shaw, yes he is a former journalist with an ax to grind. Good government yes, but they are only interested in the “gotcha” garbage, and they further add to the perception that all government is bad, which leads to more people skipping the polls on election day because they feel that their vote wont count. I hope more elected officials come out and slam the BGA when they cross the line.


  25. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:54 am:

    First,

    “With kindest personal regards, I remain

    Sincerely yours,

    MICHAEL J. MADIGAN”

    I want a letter, sent to me, even if its to rail on me till the cows come home, signed like that. It’s like a “right of passage”…one can dream.

    - So. ILL -,

    In the past 40 years, we have had more than one Republican Governor, and Republican governor go to prison, what state do you live in that “one party” of the past 40 years has been the “end-all, be-all, evil”?

    Placing blame at ALL the actors is more genuine, and less of a “drive-by” fueled by talk radio or Slytherins in My Party who always seem to forget that everyone, all those involed in the past, are to blame…


  26. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    - Skeeter -,

    Are you really suprised? The Speaker doesn’t have a “Cell Phone”, and yo are questioning his method of getting info out via mail?

    MJM is ahead of the curve here, that “internet” is a fad, and email is confuing.


  27. - chad - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    Petition passing is generaly hard and unglamorous work, and a candidate wants the most competent people he can find to do it correctly. Both parties do this — get those who have the most to gain or loose (especially jobs) on the line to get this done. As a close observer of the Speaker’s organization through the years, I’m curious as to why such a defensive reaction at this time? Seems like a non-story is being made into something for insufficient reason. No rational person thinks the BGA is going to be a credible force against the Speaker anytime soon.


  28. - MIghty M. Mouse - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:05 am:

    According to the Sun-Times article, Madigan said that Andy Shaw has admitted the BGA (under Andy Shaw) inappropriately endorsed Forrest Claypool for Cook County Assessor over Joseph Berrios.

    I guess Andy just couldn’t restrain himself from expressing his true feelings, but it does show where his head is at and where he’s coming from.


  29. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:08 am:

    My Mom had a saying that you shouldnt do anything you would not do in front of her…given that, Andy Shaw is a former TV reporter that is doing a good job mimicking Chuck Goudie and calling it the BGA…I never understood why they hired Shaw in the first place…the resume pile must have been thin…


  30. - MOON - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    Madigan’s reaction is not related to him. Rather, it is the intimidating tactics used by the BGA on those who circulated the petitions.


  31. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:14 am:

    === While the BGA claims to be a “non-partisan watchdog,” they, in fact, advocate and lobby for specific legislation. ===

    Being non-partisan doesn’t mean one can’t advocate and lobby for legislation… lots and lots of advocacy groups are non-partisan.

    === Better Government should indicate you’re looking for examples of “better government” too. His answer was that they had very limited resources and couldn’t afford to highlight good examples. ===

    I understand this response. The BGA can’t do everything… they are focused on exposing “bad government”… I don’t think they should be compelled to waste time and money on exposing good government.

    All that said, I’m not a big fan of the BGA. They are probably marginally more of an asset than a deficit, but I too find them engaging in silly, gotcha type stories. This story on Madigan and his circulators does seem to be a big waste of time, especially considering their are much bigger issues they can be working on. I also take issue that the BGA is so Sprinfield/Chicago focused, when there is so much corruption and bad government going on in Illinois’s other thousands of local governmental entities…. unfortunately the BGA doesn’t feel that exposing corruption in a small town or obscure special district garners headlines.


  32. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:16 am:

    Intimidating tactics like asking them questions they didn’t want to answer? What intimidating tactics are you talking about?


  33. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:18 am:

    The BGA and the rest of these “investigative journalist” do have a place in this world yet they really cause some nonsense at times. They always attempt to criminalize politics. Politics is the science of life and is rooted in relationships. Andy Shaw and others such as Tim Novak need to be called out at times. If someone were to call out Shaw and Novak they would have a field day. They cross the line often and make things personal and I can say that personally. Speaker Madigan has done alot of great things for people and many people are grateful for his guidance and direction. This is politics and you can not ever remove the personal aspect of that hence the Science of life.


  34. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:21 am:

    Madigan’s letter is surprisingly defensive and is exactly the kind of reaction BGA and the Sun-Times were hoping for. You can’t buy this kind of publicity.

    I’d be surprised if Madigan’s letter is not featured on the BGA’s website by the end of the day.


  35. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:29 am:

    47, I agree. I promise when they saw this letter they were dancing a jig. The notion that the Speaker or anyone squealing about this suppose injustice ever considered the BGA to be “a worthy, public advocacy group” is just laughably absurd.


  36. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:41 am:

    If the report from Publius is true, that the BGA has led strategy meetings hosted by the Chamber with GOP operatives, that is pretty damning.

    Kinney is a good reporter. He ought to get to the bottom of it.


  37. - interesting - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    do you notice that the bga never goes after the governors office? maybe thats because the governor never does anything wrong? or because shaw hired the gov’s old communications director and theres a gentlmens agreement?


  38. - D.P.Gumby - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    I suggest Andy Shaw do the same review of the Sangamon County Republican “Organization” and various state and county job holders. I’m sure he would be “shocked…shocked” to make similar “discoveries”.


  39. - Just Me - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:54 am:

    I read the Speakers letter. I noticed how he doesn’t refute the arguments made by the BGA. If you can’t argue with the message, then discredit the messenger. Classic PR.


  40. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:55 am:

    Calling BGA a journalistic organization is about as offensive as calling IPI a journalistic organization.

    BGA hired Andy Shaw because one of the big behind-the-scenes wheels there wants to make a name for himself and he can’t do it with his own work. I’m not naming names. That said, I’ve known Andy for a couple of decades and the ONLY thing important to Andy is ANDY and making sure his name (really, his face) is front and center everywhere. If he has to use underhanded, dishonest and arguably unethical tactics to get there, he will readily do so. Calling folks at a public sector job to cajole them to talk about political work (and thereby creating a violation) is just one example.

    To the story - conceptually, I have no problem with it or with transparency in general. It is the application in this instance that I have a problem with. Unless there are follow-ups coming about the other caucus leaders, statewide candidates, and others about their circulators and patronage, this is a hit job with a specific target, plain and simple.

    There was no mention of any of the circulators’ qualifications and there was the very serious implication that they were doing something unethical or illegal. I don’t know that’s the case, and neither does Andy Shaw. But, I do think if he’s going to portray himself as an independent “journalist,” then he has a responsibility to report in a fair and thorough manner - that means disclosure of qualifications when available, and that means comparisons to other caucus leaders and/or statewides.

    Further, this report talks about Madigan and his precinct workers, but I’ve yet to see the story on the 80s and 90s downstate Republican jobs program (prison expansion), which at least partially led to one Gov going to the clink, and the fact that for 26 years, there were no state jobs unless you knew the right Republican (see: Cellini, Bill). For my part, I have a relative who was an original plaintiff in Rutan after she was fired from a non-exempt position by Big Jim, and I was denied summer employment while in college at least three times because of my family, and Bill told me that himself, in no uncertain terms.

    The way this story was done is shoddy, and I share the sentiment that BGA needs to be more transparent about their corporate sponsors, what exactly drives their agenda, and the nature of their partnership with the Sun Times.

    I also have heard the threats from BGA to lawmakers on the rail about bad press if they vote the wrong way on a BGA-supported bill and I personally find that appalling. Trust me, if the Trib or Sun Times edit board came down to Springfield and started lobbying on the rail and threatening bad press when they didn’t get their way, that tax exemption on ink would be subject to negotiation pretty rapidly.

    The problem is - who investigates BGA? As someone else said, better government is a matter of perspective. Scott Walker thinks better government means eliminating unions. Vermont believes better government means universal single payer health care. What does BGA think better government means? No one with a public job involved in the political process? Good luck. Many of the people I’ve known in the public sector are there precisely because they’re interested in politics, and in better government.

    All that said, I’ll wholeheartedly concur with a commenter above on the skills and personality of one Emily Miller. She’s a gem and isn’t the problem.


  41. - PJ - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:58 am:

    I’d just like to sound off in agreement with others who have said the BGA has gotten so far off their mission of improving government and rooting out waste and corruption that they can no longer find their way back.
    The gotcha stories do not, as Shaw contends, “recommend reforms”. In fact, I have yet to see even the non-gotcha stories, the blog posts, the Shaw appearances on WBEZ, the Shaw speeches, Shaw’s Sun-Times column or any other outreach by the BGA recommend reforms. If it’s happening, I have yet to see it. What I see is Shaw and his band often attempting to villify people for the audacity to earn over $100,000 per year or drawing a pension after a lifetime of public service and other such plonk that does nothing to further the discourse of improving government.
    I have a hard time with the two-faced approach they take. Just two examples of several I could offer: They maintain a database of government worker salaries and pension data, yet they don’t disclose even to their donors how much Shaw or their investigators/reporters earn. They breathlessly decry the use of lobbyists, but have their own… Good for the goose, good for the gander, yes?


  42. - So. ILL - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 12:21 pm:

    OW - do you want to win? Do you expect to win by going on the campaign trail and saying, “I know it’s bad, guys, but we’re ALL responsible here. I mean just look at how MY party contributed to this madness.”

    If you want to beat them, beat them. Beat the tar out of them like they do to the GOP. The GOP won’t win any prizes, and certainly won’t win any elections if they take the blame right along with the Dems for the chaos and mismanagement. Would the democrats do that? They don’t take the blame now, and they have had complete control for a decade. You know why so many people believed that George Bush was responsible for Illinois’ financial condition? Because the Democrats blamed him and the media dutifully reported Steve Brown’s every word, unchallenged. Top state Dems have still never taken any blame for 7 years of $1 billion out of whack budgets and skipped pension payments. The reason we are at the current fiscal cliff is because of the mismanagement of money by the democrats since 2003. How is that drive by commenting? It’s just reality that one party rule and democrat leadership, especially in the last decade, has the state’s fiscal condition circling the drain.


  43. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 12:27 pm:

    –Being non-partisan doesn’t mean one can’t advocate and lobby for legislation… lots and lots of advocacy groups are non-partisan.–

    You’re taking a narrow definition of the word “partisan,” applying it only to political parties, I think.

    An advocate or lobbyist for legislation or causes is, by definition, a partisan.


  44. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 12:33 pm:

    - So. ILL -,

    Fire. Madigan.

    How did that go?

    The Republicans that stop the blaming, and start the leading… the GOP that starts with solutions, and stops with the finger pointing … the ILGOP, that remembers being inclusive and welcoming is the path to governing… those Slytherins who begin to welcome those with different views, but agree with them 80% of the time …when ALL in My Party begin looking for solutions, no matter their originator …

    When all …all that happens, then the ILGOP will be relevent. Not a moment before that.

    With kindest personal regards, I remain.

    Sincerely yours,

    Oswego Willy


  45. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 12:35 pm:

    Talk about waiting for a tell, Anonymous 11:18.

    Thank you.


  46. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    =…the ILGOP, that remembers being inclusive and welcoming is the path to governing… those Slytherins who begin to welcome those with different views,…=

    Umhm. Tact and diplomacy seem to never be required even when it makes one look like the hypocrite one accuses others of being.


  47. - Tim Snopes. - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 12:57 pm:

    It always seems wrong when govt employees support Dem candidates. But what about all those majority of GOP govt employees who still quietly work their bureaucratic magic bringing on GOP employees into govt jobs? And all those Afscme Prison employees brought to you by the GOP? Andy? Oh Andy? Do you think they aren’t passing petitions?


  48. - Belle - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 12:58 pm:

    The question is: would these people be helping out (ie: attending rallys, passing petitions, etc) a person seeking an elected office if a job was not involved?


  49. - reformer - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 1:05 pm:

    Willie and Joe

    Thanks for your informative and persuasive analyses.

    Andy can’t prove a single law has been broken, but that doesn’t stop his insinuations of wrongdoing. If he had found a government worker passing petitions while on the clock, then that would be worth spotlighting. He didn’t, but nonetheless continues on his crusade to expose what he considers wrongdoing.


  50. - Anon. - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 1:07 pm:

    I found the reporting very shallow. An initial discovery that 30 of 30 petition-passers have state jobs should make you wonder if something is going on. But then it turns out that it’s only 29 of 30, and some of that 29 are former employees, so it’s not as monochromatic as it first appeared. That might make you decide to stop digging, but only because you have concluded there is nothing to see, not because you have something worth reporting. The next steps in the investigation — finding the details of employment history and the history of involvment in electoral politics to detect correlations, and following up on those to see if there is any fire under the smoke — are completely lacking. This is,at best, the trigger for a good investigative story, not a story. Very poor showing.


  51. - Steve Brown - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 1:17 pm:

    “You know why so many people believed that George Bush was responsible for Illinois’ financial condition? Because the Democrats blamed him and the media dutifully reported Steve Brown’s every word, unchallenged.”

    It was easy to blame Bushie because it was all true…2 wars…Medicare Rx expansion without a dime of revenue and the Bushaplooza of all time…the predatory lenders dba Wall Street hustlers disaster that sent all economies (world, US, IL) into the trash pile)

    Not so tough to get coverage when the facts are just that. Remember back when Bushie sent everyone $800 bucks, told us to buy a big screen, take 2 aspirins and all would be better.

    If petition circulators are news then it seems only a matter of balance to check some Rs or document someone doing political work on government time. No checking, no wrongdoing amounts to huge miss.


  52. - Just Me - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 1:24 pm:

    The fact that the Speaker and his spokesperson are do worked up on this tells me something. Usually they just brush off this stuff as nonsense. Why are they fighting so hard? Maybe because they know there is a story here.

    Have someone examine Cullertons and Quinn’s petitions and see what shows. I’m willing to bet there isn’t a 97% government employment rate on those.


  53. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 1:39 pm:

    ===Usually they just brush off this stuff as nonsense. ===

    Not really. After the Tribune ran two different series of stories on MJM, he sent out similar letters.


  54. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 1:41 pm:

    === a 97% government employment rate ===

    That would be past and current. “Only” 17 of 30 were current employees.


  55. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    It appears Andy Shaw and the BGA touched a nerve.

    A very raw, sensitive nerve at that.


  56. - Elo Kiddies - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    - PJ - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 11:58 am:

    They maintain a database of government worker salaries and pension data, yet they don’t disclose even to their donors how much Shaw or their investigators/reporters earn.

    Well, they do file 990’s every year.

    http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/charities/disclaimer.html


  57. - A guy... - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 2:12 pm:

    Sometimes agitation is greatly increased when innocent people are tagged with a smear. That’ll touch a nerve. In a BGA story, you’re not supposed to have to dig for facts. 17 of 30 sounds a lot different than 29 of 30. If these folks were just genuinely trying to help with petitions and they got hassled and criticized, that’s not good for anyone who needs them in the future. Hmmm.


  58. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 2:16 pm:

    @Formerly Known As

    MJM has a reputation for taking attacks on his reputation very seriously. As well he should. Anyone should.

    To the post:

    1. Someone was bound to write this story. It is really just poorly done, which is what tends to happen when you outsource journalism.

    2. Any reporter covering the BGA ought to disclose the Shaw-Claypool fiasco in the story. For BGA to claim nonpartisanship when they have endorsed a candidate is insane.

    3. If the BGA wants to restore some credibility, they might want to try raising money from some nonpartisans for a change. They love to make the “He who pays the piper calls the tune” argument. Yet raise most of their money from political insiders?

    4. Anyone doubt the Eychaner money was related to Claypool? Didn’t Fred give Forrest a couple hundred grand?


  59. - nadia - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 2:21 pm:

    They keep trying, ain’t nothing stuck yet. Some find it hard to accept a pol who so far has done things legally, maybe not always the popular way or kinder,gentler way, but the legal way. They have the right to keep throwing it on the wall.


  60. - Knome Sane - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 2:23 pm:

    And lo and behold, a moment ago I received an email from Andy Shaw at BGA using this issue as a fundraising mechanism.


  61. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 2:28 pm:

    To recap:

    - Michael Madigan is synonymous with “government” in Illinois.

    - In a state with such a diverse economy, 97% (29 of 30) of the petition passers work or worked in government.

    - Speaker Madigan, for all the adoration and support springing up in comments, was able to attract only 1 person outside of a government background willing to collect signatures for him.

    - These 30 individuals have also contributed a rough average of $6,667 (”over $200,000″) to Madigan political funds.

    - The group pointing out this “coincidence” is now being attacked, ridiculed and called names by some of those at the center of the “coincidence”, including Speaker Madigan.

    - Nobody don’t know nobody who has anything to gain or benefit from this incredible happenstance.

    Sure. Makes sense.


  62. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 2:42 pm:

    Elo Kiddies—

    Thanks for pointing out this link. Interesting information regarding the BGA on there and their change in direction since Andy Shaw took over:

    In 2008, Jay Stewart (then Executive Director), was paid $57,765.

    In 2009, When Andy Shaw took over the reigns, Shaw was paid $76,667 to be Executive Director.

    In 2011, Andy Shaw was paid $174,175 to be executive director.

    It all jives with my theory that the BGA is only interested in creating headlines that will help its fundraising so that they can boost their own salaries at the “non profit” BGA.

    See, Andy, two people can play at this game.


  63. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 4:05 pm:

    ===- These 30 individuals have also contributed a rough average of $6,667 (”over $200,000″) to Madigan political funds.===

    For Payton Prep Clouter Bruce Rauner, that is called “Lunch Money”

    Also, - Formerly Known As … -,

    Are you saying ever single person who had a public sector job and/or pernsion and circulated petitons is involved in criminal activity at some sort of level?

    I have heard no one, even Andy Shaw, go that far. So, what is with the smear? Anyone should be able to circulate, and in the 13th Ward, 17 of 30 were on the public dole, and 29 of 30 had connections to a payroll …

    ….(pause) ….(pause) ….

    So?

    What are you trying to say?


  64. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 4:07 pm:

    @Formerly:

    Maybe you would favor a bill banning anybody who works in government or who has ever worked in government from passing petitions or being involved in the political process whatsoever. It disgusts me that people are so willing to smear others based on absolutely no evidence OTHER than they happen to work for government. It’s shameful.


  65. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 5:06 pm:

    @Demoralized - Would support a bill allowing only current or former government employees to pass petitions? 29 out of 30 doesn’t seem a bit odd to you?

    It disgusts me that people are so willing to defend politics as usual in Illinois.


  66. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 6:53 pm:

    @Oswego,

    It is obviously not illegal to pass petitions. Nor is it illegal to make donations.

    Like you, I have passed petitions for candidates. That is a fundamental aspect of American democracy. That is a positive thing, in my opinion. So is working in government.

    It is logical that some petition passers are or have been government employees. Add in their relatives and close friends, you’ll probably find even more government workers.

    But the fact that 97% (29 out of 30) petition passers fit that category doesn’t seem odd in the slightest???

    I would also add two things:

    1. Something does not have to be blatantly illegal to find it odd or questionable. As they teach in ethics classes, even “immoral” things are not always illegal. I find this a tremendously odd “coincidence”, but do not assert it is illegal anywhere in my comments.

    2. They should take a look at Durkin’s, Cullerton’s and Radogno’s as well. Maybe even Cross. It would provide a better idea of just how normal and regular this is in the grand scheme of things.


  67. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 7:18 pm:

    - Formerly Known As … -,

    With respect,

    Your last post seems to be the best of your bunch, and logically makes your points, and indeed, I understand your points and your rationale.

    To that Post,

    Knowing what you know, and knowing what I know… honestly, is it that out of the ordinary that 13th Ward Captains, some of whom are on public payrolls, and in fact, 29 of 30, at somepoint or another haave/had worked for a public body, or might even be retired from any body as well, you still find that odd?

    Remember, we are talking about the Speaker’s beloved organization, and Michael Madigan …trusting … people to circualte valid signatures… for him.

    Do I find it odd, the numbers are at the “clip they are?

    Not one bit.

    Not even in the slightest of slight. Organizations take care of those in the organizations.

    All that being said, I couldn’t speak knowledgably about Durkin, or Cullerton, or any other Leader and their petitions, or their circulators.

    My whole point, from where I am sitting, is what is the goal or next step in this … exposure… given the audience here, probably the most knowledgeable folks in Illinois about her politics and how her politics work.

    Now what? What is the author (Andy Shaw) saying about those circulating?

    If I were a 13th Warder, I would stand up for myself, and I would be proud that the Committeeman stood up for me. It may not make the Speaker look “his best” commenting, and the case has been made by Andy Shaw himself, that any response would not only be used against the Speaker, but used to “milk the donors”, based on just “29 of 30″ or “17 of 30″… exercising their right to be part of the political process.

    The pushback, the blowback, the “ruffling” is that the process of getting signatures, not on the public time, is quite legal. so, what seems to be so out of place?

    When you “lead” with one thing, and then do not connect any dots, purposely to leave a big question that can be used to the questioner’s favor, yeah, I got a beef about that, and when its about just the circulating, that really gets under my skin. Either get to your point, or stop with the sentence to begin with, since its all about leaving questions unanswered, and those unanswered questions, question integrity, based on nothing.

    The rest, the alleged bulling by Shaw, or the pushback by Madigan, I have no clue. I do know what started it, and it is not something I look at too kindly.

    Again, with respect, thanks for the clarification, all good on my side.


  68. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 7:37 pm:

    === …When you lead… ===

    Not “you”, - FKA -, that “you” is the Author (Andy Shaw). Too ambiguous to leave as I did. Apologies.


  69. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 8:40 pm:

    @Formerly:

    No, it doesn’t seem odd to me. And I’m not defending politics as usual. I’m railing against the smear campaign going on against individuals who are passing petitions who also happen to be current or former government employees. If people have evidence that something illegal or unethical is going on then they should provide it. Otherwise is all bluster and innuendo.

    People can be upset about this if they want. I don’t find it the least bit odd or untoward. I’m tired of the constant bashing government employees take for everything they do. On the job. Off the job. Doesn’t matter.

    If you have evidence provide it.


  70. - crazybleedingheart - Wednesday, Oct 30, 13 @ 10:09 pm:

    Nobody is questioning the syntax of these “precinct worker” posts?

    Odd, 9 mentions of “Mike Madigan,” zero mentions of “Michael Madigan,” “Mike,” “Madigan,” “Rep. Madigan,” “the Speaker,” or any other permutation.

    Every single blog comment refers to CapFax as newspapers, reporters, and/or articles.

    4 of 5 comments use the phrase “passing petitions”

    “Last time I checked there is nothing wrong with…” vs. “Last I checked we still live in America…”

    “I’ve knockef on doors” vs. “I qork hard”

    Yeah, one of the posts doesn’t use capital letters. Um, okay.

    This is America and people can ghostwrite for precinct workers if they wanna.

    I’m just tired of Madigan thinking everyone in this state is lazier and stupider than he.


  71. - PJ - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 7:57 am:

    @Elo Kitties
    Yes, I’m aware they file a 990, which the AG posts online on the AG’s website. That’s quite a bit different from posting the names and salaries of all of their employees on their site, is it not? If you preach transparency, you ought to practice it.


  72. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 8:08 am:

    ===I’m just tired of Madigan thinking everyone in this state is lazier and stupider than he.===

    “You are so right.

    Signed,

    Tom Cross, 5 Handicap, golfed on Election Day”

    Maybe not lazier, but I don’t remember taking in 9 holes on an Election Day…

    As for the Posts you question, your forensic audit might need more fact, and less Tin Foil Hat.

    MJM got 4 of 5 General Assemblies with a Map drawn against the Democrats. Has the GOP done anything like that?

    Nope.

    That makes MJM pretty smart too.

    Wishing MJM was lazy or dumb is not the way to best him. You have to try to outwork the MJM, you have to try to out policy and out politic MJM, and you need to make sure you don’t golf on the biggest political day of the year.

    Until … until politically “you can beat his with yours, and then beat your with his”, My Party is lazier and not as bright as MJM. The facts…say its so.


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