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Eychaner talks gay marriage, Madigan and Quinn

Monday, May 12, 2014

* The National Journal somehow snagged an interview with Fred Eychaner, one of the Democrats’ biggest campaign contributors both nationally and here in Illinois. Eychaner almost never grants interviews, so this is a very rare profile

Eychaner decided to construct his own heavily funded lobbying and public-relations vehicle [to help pass gay marriage] instead of donating funds to existing gay-rights groups. To do his media, he hired ASGK Public Strategies, a Chicago-based PR firm with ties to Obama, and he enlisted several of the state’s top lobbyists. […]

Eychaner entrusted Mike Madigan—the powerful Democratic speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and someone to whom he had been a generous donor over the years—to deliver the votes. This did not sit well with other advocates, who wanted to cast a wider lobbying net, as opposed to leaning so heavily on Madigan to round up support.

“I would go on the record with my respect for Mike Madigan, which will probably upset a lot of friends,” Eychaner says now. “He’s enormously skillful at what he does. The only speakers of any House who survive are the ones who can keep their majority and keep everyone going largely in the same direction. Mike Madigan is superb at that.”

When it appeared last summer that they didn’t have the votes, the Legislature’s gay-marriage supporters delayed calling the bill to the floor. The grassroots wing of the LGBT movement was upset, and some began blaming Eychaner. The most obstreperous of these critics, a longtime gay-rights activist named Rick Garcia, publicly chastised Eychaner for being in Madigan’s pocket.

But after a five-month delay, the bill was voted on and passed, marking a historic occasion as well as vindicating Eychaner’s strategy. Eychaner compared the process to 20 mad chefs cooking on 20 different burners. “The person to the left of you by one degree thinks you’re selling out,” he said. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I don’t think I’ll be in that position again.”

When I asked about his near-term plans, he indicated only his interest in putting money behind the reelection campaign of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn whose self-funding Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, busted the individual spending-limits cap in the primary. “I don’t expect to be among the top donors this year, but I will do my share,” he said. “I am not the progressive Koch brother.”

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


34 Comments
  1. - lake county democrat - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 2:33 pm:

    In other words, you gotta have Eychaner kind of money to move policy in this state.


  2. - wordslinger - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 2:35 pm:

    He’s already into Quinn for half a million this cycle.


  3. - Liberty First - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 2:40 pm:

    “I am not the progressive Koch brother”

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…


  4. - phocion - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    “I am not the progressive Koch brother”

    Methinks thou doth protest too much, Mr. Eychaner.


  5. - A guy... - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    Let’s put it this way. His sink was clogged. After a parade of assorted handymen, apprentices and journeymen were called in with no success, he knew to hire a Master Plumber. Clog gone. Illinois legislative work is plumbing, not surgery.


  6. - Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    Rick Garcia did not move a single vote on marriage equality. He did, however, prove adept at getting himself on television.


  7. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    mr/ms lcd
    it really says that even someone with mega bucks needs patience to get major policy change enacted.


  8. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 2:52 pm:

    == The Chicago businessman gave an astounding $14.1 million to liberal super PACs in 2012, making him the largest Democratic donor to outside spending groups during that election cycle. ==

    == I am not the progressive Koch brother. ==

    Perhaps not in word, but in deed.

    Besides, George Soros has already claimed that mantle.


  9. - Jacob S - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    It would be scary if someone with Mega Bucks could just be a dictator and get whatever they want just by having Mega Bucks.

    No matter what the issue is from Gay Marriage to Pension reform and /or anything else. It should not be decided by big money.


  10. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 3:09 pm:

    Just had a chance to read whole piece. Was that disappointing/ The writer has 2 chances to ask about a lot of stuff and he writes about wardrobe. Looks like Sneed stuff Very shallow. Guessing Fred will read and decide never to waste his time


  11. - A guy... - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 3:18 pm:

    It really is kinda cute when an ultra-rich guy plays the poor mouth and says “I don’t have as much money as him”. History demonstrates you have plenty sir.


  12. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 3:22 pm:

    - It really is kinda cute when an ultra-rich guy plays the poor mouth -

    Yeah, almost as cute as when they throw on a flannel and a Carhartt and suddenly understand everyday people.


  13. - jim - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 3:36 pm:

    He’s certainly entitled to spend his money as he sees fit. But I don’t get his effort to disassociate himself from what he’s doing. Of couse, he’s like the Kochs brothers, George Soros and all the other rich guys spending money to push public issues. How could he not be like them?


  14. - Adam Smith - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 3:48 pm:

    And let’s not ignore the fawning treatment this guy gets. He’s played big-money hard ball for years. And make no mistake, his wholesale purchase of Democrats has been a big boon for his business interests. Don’t know what businesses he’s in? Well maybe it’s because the media (that includes Cap Fax) ignores that he is a big player in several heavily regulated businesses, like parking garages.

    The Koch’s put in big money to push their free market principles (that also are good for business) and they are evil incarnate. Freddy puts in big money to promote his social agenda (and get heavy duty clout in the process) and he’s some modern-day hero?

    Wow.


  15. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 3:52 pm:

    ===And let’s not ignore the fawning treatment this guy gets.===

    Where?


  16. - wordslinger - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    –And make no mistake, his wholesale purchase of Democrats has been a big boon for his business interests. –

    Gay marriage is a boon for alternative newspapers and radio stations?


  17. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    == Was that disappointing ==

    CFS, we may not always agree, but we agree on this. First interview since 2006 and this is the result?

    I’m not saying the author had to beat the poor guy up or grill him or anything remotely close to that. It just feels like there was a missed opportunity in there somewhere to learn more about the person. Maybe the author is hoping it will lead to more interviews and didn’t want to scare him off?


  18. - LincolnLounger - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    For someone who apparently is so shrewd at business, I was disappointed tha there were no questions about the Illinois business climate. Underfunded pensions? Budge backlog. Stubbornly high unemployment, etc.

    Mr. Eychaner is entitled to spend as he pleases. My opinion is that he and so many in the gay community are short-sighted in not encouraging the moderate friends we have in the Republican Party with their money and support. To be a largely wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democrats is not healthy and leads to being taken for granted. By that I mean the community, not Mr Eychaner.


  19. - A guy... - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 5:09 pm:

    ==== Small Town Liberal - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 3:22 pm:

    - It really is kinda cute when an ultra-rich guy plays the poor mouth -

    Yeah, almost as cute as when they throw on a flannel and a Carhartt and suddenly understand everyday people.====

    Not even close to the same thing. He said it in a “rare” interview. How do you know how BR dressed before he entered your radar? Thanks for playing.


  20. - Demoralized - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 5:17 pm:

    @A guy:

    Come on. Rauner is super rich and claiming to be just one of the guys. It’s not much different.


  21. - wordslinger - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 5:21 pm:

    –It really is kinda cute when an ultra-rich guy plays the poor mouth and says “I don’t have as much money as him”. –

    Who did that, where?


  22. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 5:27 pm:

    ===Not even close to the same thing.===

    It’s like hypocrisy with both Rauners is passed on to the Raunerbots, lol.

    Rauner portrays himself fraudulently. If you think either Rauner is genuine,your gullibility has no bounds.


  23. - A guy... - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 5:32 pm:

    ==== wordslinger - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 5:21 pm:

    –It really is kinda cute when an ultra-rich guy plays the poor mouth and says “I don’t have as much money as him”. –

    Who did that, where?====
    Blair Hull, in the Quotables of today:
    “He doesn’t need my money. He’s got a lot more money than I do,” Hull said. As for the $5,000 check he wrote to Rauner: “It was emotional support.”

    OW also chimed in to advise what Bruce Rauner is like and if he’s genuine and how he dresses when he’s not in the spotlight.


  24. - wordslinger - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 5:35 pm:

    What does something Blair Hull said in support of Rauner have to do with Eychaner?


  25. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 5:36 pm:

    ===OW also chimed in to advise what Bruce Rauner is like and if he’s genuine and how he dresses when he’s not in the spotlight.===

    Bruce Rauner is not genuine;

    Clouted his kid, and lied about it. Rauner lacks honesty and integrity, ethics and morals. That is not up for discussion with the choices in his real life.

    If you choose to go against your better self, that doesn’t mean either Rauner is genuine, it means your integrity has a price, that’s all.


  26. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 5:42 pm:

    ===OW also chimed in to advise what Bruce Rauner is like and if he’s genuine and how he dresses when he’s not in the spotlight.===

    You have, seriously, got to start reading.

    I said … ===Rauner portrays himself fraudulently. If you think either Rauner is genuine,your gullibility has no bounds.===

    What part of that talks about how either Rauner dresses?

    “Your guy” Bruce Rauner portrays himself fraudulently. If you just want to discuss his pristine coat or a watch, and ignore his 2 personas, that is on you, not me.


  27. - Mighty M. Mouse - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 7:21 pm:

    ===Bruce Rauner is not genuine;

    Clouted his kid, and lied about it. Rauner lacks honesty and integrity, ethics and morals. That is not up for discussion with the choices in his real life.===

    Exactly right. He’s as phoney as a $3 bill and a master at talking without saying anything, except when he’s lying about the past, present or future.


  28. - Precinct Captain - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 7:33 pm:

    ==It really is kinda cute when an ultra-rich guy plays the poor mouth and says “I don’t have as much money as him”. History demonstrates you have plenty sir.==

    Why is it all about class warfare with you A guy? Just quit it already!


  29. - Just The Way It Is One - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 7:41 pm:

    Fascinating article about this humble, yet resolute Illinois Native and Businessman, who will give GENerously to those causes and/or Individuals he’s passionate about…

    And in this particular Election Cycle, Pat Quinn is surely lucky to have Fred Eychaner in his Corner and in this tight Race, particularly with one of the Governor’s recent, major accomplishments in passage of SSM in Illinois–long near and dear to this Gentleman’s kind heart–the Governor will need Fred to go to the Well for him once again in “crunch time” this Fall, and will humbly request of this Good-hearted Soul any additional, generous assistance Fred is able to provide…!


  30. - Captain America - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 8:08 pm:

    He’s like the counterpart to Jack Roeser…although Roeser has a different personality.


  31. - Anonymous - Monday, May 12, 14 @ 8:18 pm:

    =How do you know how BR dressed before he entered your radar? Thanks for playing.=

    Without pointing fingers at anyone’s staff, I’m wondering how many voters have become so jaded based on how candidates are presented nowadays, that they are unable or unwilling to believe anything…including what they see and hear.

    I suppose that’s all part of today’s winning strategies and it’s supposed to make things easier for…I’m still trying to figure out who. And for what duration. And whether all of “it” was a good precedent to set.


  32. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 4:57 am:

    Eychaner bought off a majority of the Illinois General Assembly and this is supposed to be commendable? Seriously. All told did this man spend more than $90 million over a period of yeara to reel in the necessary votes?

    How many historians applauded Charles Yerkes for attempting to purchase the Chicago City Council to create a streetcar monopoly? As a previous comment noted, Eychaner has business interests beyond promoting SSM.


  33. - dave - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 7:36 am:

    **Eychaner bought off a majority of the Illinois General Assembly **

    This is actually blatantly false. Good try though.


  34. - wordslinger - Tuesday, May 13, 14 @ 8:49 am:

    –Eychaner bought off a majority of the Illinois General Assembly ..–

    Bribery, eh, just like Yerkes? Could you be a bit more specific? And enlighten us to those other business interests that are part of the payoff?

    If you’re going to liken someone to a notorious criminal, you should put something more than your usual bile behind ti.


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