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.
*** UPDATE *** Madigan’s letter in full…
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
MICHAEL J. MADIGAN
Chairman, Democratic Party of Illinois