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“The intersection of government, politics and money”

Thursday, Oct 31, 2013

* From Chicagoist

Government watchdog group The Better Government Association is getting under Michael Madigan’s skin. At least that’s how we see it after the Illinois House Speaker sent a letter to fellow Democratic lawmakers accusing BGA and its President and CEO Andy Shaw of trying to “become a kingmaker in Illinois politics” and having an agenda to “impugn the Democratic Party.”

Madigan, himself a kingmaker in Illinois politics, probably wrote that without irony.

Madigan sent the letter on Illinois Democratic Party letterhead—because that’s what a political power broker does—to the House Democratic caucus and members of the Democratic State Central Committee. Madigan wrote the letter in response to a Sun-Times/BGA investigation into how 29 of 30 people who circulated petitions in 2011 to get Madigan on the ballot for re-election either had or have government jobs. Those 29 people cost taxpayers nearly $2 million a year; contributed $200,000 to the campaign funds of Madigan or his daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan; and some are drawing public pensions while still working for government agencies.

Madigan’s “kingmaker” claim is just plain laughable, as I’ve already discussed at length today in the subscriber-only section.

* But let’s also take another look at what Shaw said in his fundraising letter yesterday

This is a story about the intersection of government, politics and money. Watchdogs tell those stories because citizens of Illinois deserve to know how their government works.

The irony of fundraising off a story that’s supposedly about “the intersection of government, politics and money” is pretty darned rich, particularly considering Shaw’s own contributors.

* Some commenters were busy bees and looked at Shaw’s organization. From an anon commenter

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.

* “Juvenal” followed up

Anonymous: You omitted that Shaw received an additional $19K in non-salary compensation. Oh yeah, and BGA pays his social club membership dues too.

Look, I don’t begrudge nonprofit employees being compensated. But guys who make more than the governor should not be casting themselves as “a small watchdog organization”.

From the BGA’s tax return

The most recent BGA disclosure report is here.

* Others looked at the backgrounds of some of the BGA’s top funders. From hisgirlfriday

Only $200,000 to MJM or Lisa by the workers?

Well if that makes the workers corrupt, how corrupt does that make the honorees, co-chairs and hosts of the BGA’s 90th anniversary luncheon who have donated wayyyyyyyyyyyy more than $200,000 to Democrats and Republicans over the years?

Here’s a link to a list of these folks:

Just a sampling…

BGA honoree RICHARD DRIEHAUS donated $100,000 to Richard M. Daley in 2007, even after Hired Truck and Bob Sorich’s conviction. What a hero of better government!

Co-Chair RON GIDWITZ has personally donated more than $200,000 to one GOP governor candidate and now is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for another GOP candidate. Oh and he gave $30,000 over the years to Lee Daniels, whose chief of staff was convicted of public corruption.

Co-chair J.B. PRITZKER donated $100,000 to the campaign of former governor Rod Blagojevich, who was sent to prison for 14 years for public corruption.

Co-chair ANNE GRIFFIN made a mockery of campaign finance limits by funneling her contributions to Republican candidates via Downstate Republican county party chairmen.

Oh and the people on this list have donated at least tens of thousands to Madigan and his daughter too.

* Wordslinger

To add to HGFs list of the BGA annual meeting co-chairs and honorees and their experiences at “the intersection of government, politics and money.”

There’s John Canning, grand poohbah of Madison Dearborn, one of those private equity firms that hustles public employee pension fund money to invest (taking 1.5% off the top, and 20% of returns).

His Better Government bona fides in recent years include dropping $100K on Richard M. Daley, $30K on Emanuel, $50K on Anne Burke and $40K on Claypool.

And $25K on Michael J. Madigan.

Canning also is the subject of an FEC complaint for blowing the doors off last year on individual contribution limits to candidates, parties and PACs, primarily Republicans, including Romney, Boehner, Cantor and Illinois GOP congressional candidates including Walsh.

* More Wordslinger

Other interesting names from the BGA invite for their annual luncheon. These guys know their way around the “intersection of government, money and politics.”

Lester Crown, of the BGA Civic Leadership Committee. General Dynamics. Material Services Corp. From the Trib:

–Crown was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1972 scandal in which construction executives bribed (Illinois) state legislators in an attempt to get highway weight limits raised for ready-mix concrete trucks. Crown was chairman of Material Service Corp., a major ready-mix company.

He received immunity from prosecution in return for testimony used to convict the politicians. At the 1976 trial, Crown admitted contributing $23,000 to a fund that financed the bribes.–

Jerry Reinsdorf. Nice ballpark. Nice restaurant. How much did they cost you? Who paid for it? Pay a lot in rent? Sweet.

Bruce Rauner, Civic Leadership Committee. Who?

* Walkinfool summed it up

Some of the biggest, (some would say “worst”) examples of the “intersection of government, politics, and money”, are key supporters, and honorees of BGA itself.

Using Andy Shaw’s own logic, they should be a major target of an “investigation” in the name of “better government.”

Have at it Andy, and prove you are who you claim to be.

And then there’s a story told by Joe Berrios and pointed to by another commenter. Click here to read that one.

* Look, despite what some commenters may have implied above, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking money from those folks. There’s also nothing wrong with having your organization pick up your “social club” membership dues, or making a decent buck.

The point, I think, is that if the BGA was a campaign organization, the media might be all over this stuff and impugning the leader’s integrity. Smoke, fire, etc. It’s usually just nonsense, but that’s how it goes.

Another point, I believe, is that there is also nothing intrinsically wrong with a government employee or retiree circulating nominating petitions and contributing rather smallish amounts to the organization for which he or she volunteers. Yet, that’s a story.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Seriously????!!!!! - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 10:58 am:

    I agree 100% Rich - great commentary! Kudos to you for telling it like it is and should be!!!

  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:01 am:

    This specific Post, and the Post and responses yesterday by the likes of - walkinfool -, - hisgirlfriday -, - Juvenal -, and the Standard for us all, - wordslinger -… again reinforces that time and time again, you want to find out the story, and then the backstory, by the best commenters around, THIS … is the place to be, to read, and to learn. Kudos to all, and thanks to Rich for having this place for all this talent to shine.

    Having said that, To today’s Post,

    Speaker Madigan took it up a notch on his own. I stated that if I were a 13th Warder, I would defend myself, and also would be proud my Committeeman also defended me. However, MJM was not doing himself any favors, and helped Andy Shaw in the way of continuing the Narrative Shaw wanted to discuss, and then adding to that, making it a tool to fundraise, which others pointed out so well.

    Yesterday was “classic” pitching in and allowing the learning to be the driver of the Post, with information abound.

    I agree, there is nothing, nothing wrong with current, former, retired public sector workers circulating petitons, on their own time, for the candidates or issues they support. That was the issue, but MJM helped Shaw with his Narrative of inuendo, and took a step further, Shaw got to fundraise off a response that was too “pointed”, when the response could have been just as biting as a “So, what is your point?” and have Andy Shaw, himself, make the point that doesn’t really exist in a non-story about the 13th Ward Organization.

    I still hope I get a personalized MJM letter with his closing some day. It is a “right of passage.”

    Well done … all … and thanks to all for helping me learn, and find that intersection too.

  3. - Bill_Baar - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:06 am:

    This is a pro-Tea Party post. Less Government brings less Politics brings less politics into the mix. Imagine what these folks (Shaw/BGA included) can do to healthcare. Thanks, excellant insights from commentators on the nexus of Establishement and Reformers.

  4. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:06 am:

    All of the above is fair game. But what rings so ridiculously hollow is not just the kingmaker charge as Rich described, but also the notion that this is some partisan agenda.

    So let me understand the logic. The BGA is a hyper-partisan Republican front organization determined to attack Democrats, but the overwhelming majority of its donors are big donors to Democrats. Perhaps they’re self-hating Democrats? Seriously, you want to attack their hypocrisy, have fun. But attacking them as partisan is just stupid.

  5. - Bill_Baar - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:07 am:

    S/B Less Government brings less Politics brings less money into the mix.

  6. - Tommydanger - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:10 am:

    >> Look, despite what some commenters may have implied above, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking money from those folks.

  7. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:10 am:


    I think you’ve hit on something here and a point I raised yesterday. Why did the Speaker do this? What was he hoping to accomplish? If this was designed to hurt their fundraising, clearly this will have the opposite effect. And why did he direct all his venom towards BGA and none to the Sun-Times which partnered on the story and gave it a venue.


  8. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:13 am:

    Capt Fax:
    We all know he is a fellow Sun Times columnist so one might be mandated to see everything as all A-OK, but why leave out his real estate hustle?
    Why not raise the question of whether they are taking assignments from WhackyJack and his cronies. Remember they are still smarting from being totally creamed with their Michelle for IL gambit?
    Compare Handout Andy with IPI’s Tilman. At least Tilman is totally upfront about being a stooge for all the whack jobs and wing nuts.
    Handout is still trying to pretend he is Johnny Deadline.

  9. - Tommydanger - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    -Look, despite what some commenters may have implied above, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking money from those folks.-

    Legally wrong? I agree. Ethically wrong? When you are railing against all that is wrong with Illinois politics and you are taking money from people that are inside of the people that are in the inside and your holier-than-thous attitude is on full display, then yes, I believe the BGA is morally challenged in funding their message from the same people that they seek to expose as corrupt.

    What’s next–PETA accepting money fomr John Tyson?

  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:19 am:

    You get your laughs where you can. For the Better Government Association to have on its Civic Leadership Committee a guy who testified in federal court to bribing Illinois legislators is like something out of a Mel Brooks movie.

    Believe me, I understand why you’d want Lester Crown in your corner — he’s at the intersection of billions, billions and billions. Where the Better Government part comes in eludes me.

  11. - dupage dan - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:21 am:

    Yes, OW, this is the place to come for the kind of info that all citizens/voters should have while deciding what type of government they should have. I fear that for many folks in this state, they are content to make these choices based on the soundbites and slogans of the candidates. That is what folks like Shaw and MJM count on. While it is sad, folks who want to know can come to this blog and learn. Not hard to find and chock full of goodies. Low information voters have a source - if they care to partake. There are no excuses for being ignorant.

  12. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    ===Why did the Speaker do this? What was he hoping to accomplish?===

    As Col. Nathan Jessup said, “I don’t have the first clue.”

    The speaker is fiercy loyal to the Ward Organization, and they to him. In a vacuum, of those in his Caucus, maybe MJM thought that being loyal to his Crew, attacking Andy Shaw and the BGA, making it “personal”…maybe the thought was, “If Shaw won’t back down, Shaw better realize I won’t back down, and I am going to let everyone know, I am not backing down too.”

    I could be right, I could be one thousand percent off, so far off, both Shaw and MJM are laughing …but I think it boils down to loyalty and disipline within a Party and Organization, and MJM was not going to let anyone “dress down” his Crew, his Organization, or in his eyes(?), his Party, and not hear from him, … as the Kingmanker …takes on the perceived threat to the throne and its disipline.

    MJM walked into this, giving the inuendo legs, even if the intention was to cut it off at the knees. These days following will be more telling than what Dopey thing I think, and maybe we might see more from the angles of both Andy Shaw and MJM, and what …. really …this is all about, weel before and well after this interaction.

  13. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:26 am:

    ===What’s next–PETA accepting money fomr John Tyson? ===

    His money is as green as anyone else’s.

  14. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:40 am:


    Maybe MJMs rationale for making a big stink here is to dissuade the JB Pritzker types on the Chicago Dem business community from supporting Shaws work in the future and letting them know if they are a friend of MJM they should not be a friend of Shaws.
    And if Shaw does get an influx of GOP money after this feud with MJM then his message gets compromised and MJM’s argument gains favor.

    One thing I find interesting with the BGA folks is that whether Dem or Republican they mostly all have ties to Rahm. I would imagine a lot of these folks are very happy to have the BGA folks focused on Springfield rather than say the CPS. Has the BGA done anything major on the UNO stuff? I noticed one of their schools showed up on a CPS warning list just yesterday.

  15. - estubborn - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    So MJM has petition circulators that once worked in government or now do. He’s been in power for decades. How is it surprising that he trusts his ballot access to people he knows and trust, regardless of their current or past jobs? When you’ve been involved with politics for so long, it’s safe to assume most people in your life are political. My friends that work food service spend free time with others that work in food service. Same applies with bikers, artists, athletes, etc. Is he supposed to join a book club and call other book club members to help him continue to be a lawmaker every other year?

  16. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:42 am:

    Thanks to Willy for two posts and no mention of a certain prep school in Chicago!

  17. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:45 am:

    - DuPage Dave -,

    “With kindest personal regards, I remain.

    Sincerely yours,

    Oswego Willy”

    - Chicago Cynic -,

    You raised a good point, and even after thinking about it… again … I stiil don’t have the first clue, and those questions you have really lead to the next step in this, and I for one can’t wait to see how this is going to play out.

  18. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:50 am:

    My big problem with the BGA is that truely do not appear to be about better government.

    The sole purpose of the BGA, as I see it, it to issue headline grabbing, “gotcha” stories on public officials and government employees so that they can use those stories in their fundraising activities. I understand that every non-profit needs to perform fundraising in order to keep it operational… but with the BGA it truely seems to be the tail wagging the dog. (Check out this Chicago Magazine article where the author, who claims to be Shaw’s social acquaintance, where the author states that Shaw admitted that he views his job as, first and foremost, a fundraising job:

    In addition to raising money, Shaw has proven that he is also more concerned with keeping his name in the limelight than working toward a better functioning government. His arrogance and sense of entitlement are unbelieveable. Check out the article above where Shaw’s wife says that his position is basically “volunteer with health insurance” (a $175,174 volunteer job). Also check out this article where Shaw has even aliented others in his own organization with his self centeredness:

    I actually don’t see Shaw as a shill for the Republicans. He is just an opportunist that will do what he needs to do to raise more money and bring more attention on himself… and today that means writing negative articles about Madigan. The end result of articles like these is that the general population has an ever increasing hostility towards the government and government employees… but not better government.

    As we have seen in recent months, this ever increasing hostility toward government has given rise to a movement where people are willing to elect people that are openly hostile to government - even to the extent that they allow government to shut down and nearly default on its obligations. Say what you want about the government shutdown and debt cieling debate - the fact is that it had a substantial cost to the economy.

    I strongly support government transparency and moving toward a better fuctioning, more efficient government. I don’t think that the BGA works toward those goals.

  19. - Abe the Babe - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:50 am:

    I think this issue is being confused a little. The distinction I see is important.

    First, Madigan is being alleged (by BGA/Suntimes) in engaging in quid pro quo corruption. “Help me pass petitions for my targets and i will move the levers of government to get you a nicely paid state post somewhere”. If true, its wrong.

    Second, Andy and BGA are NOT being accused of providing something untoward in exchange for a donation to the BGA (if true this would also be wrong).

    The difference is that BGA is being accused of taking money from people who may not be the most ardent poster childs for better government. Is it bad practice? yes. Poor brand management? yes. Its essentailly guilt by association which is an unfortunate reaility for those in the public eye.

    But is it quid pro quo corruption as that allegation is being alleged at MJM? No.

    As for the compensation and goodies Andy recieves. I dont like highly paid non-profit executives (seems counterintuitive) but this should be a board oversight issue.

  20. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:55 am:

    ===Madigan is being alleged (by BGA/Suntimes) in engaging in quid pro quo corruption.====

    Not sure I saw that specific allegation in the story.

  21. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:01 pm:

    === ===Madigan is being alleged (by BGA/Suntimes) in engaging in quid pro quo corruption.====

    Not sure I saw that specific allegation in the story. ===

    I think that is what Andy Shaw wants, and what really frosted me yesterday …

    There is the “jump” everyone thinks … is being made, but isn’t being made, except to leave the inuendo so wide open, Shaw and the BGA wants the reader … to walk through that door on their own, and take none of the “heat” of actually pushing that inuendo in word or statement.

    I am sure MJM didn’t like the open-ended inuendo too …and others walking through that door, opened by Shaw and BGA by leaving that “thought” out there, but never saying it themselves.

  22. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:01 pm:

    –The difference is that BGA is being accused of taking money from people who may not be the most ardent poster childs for better government. Is it bad practice? yes. Poor brand management? yes. Its essentailly guilt by association which is an unfortunate reaility for those in the public eye.–

    They solicit money from corporations, law firms, banks, private equity interests that often have great interests in government contracts or legislation, and are big-time contributors to politicians.

    If petition passing is a quid pro quo for a government job, I think you can make the same argument that a contribution to BGA will keep their investigators from looking your way.

  23. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:02 pm:

    I mostly agree with Abe the Babe.

    People on this board have focused on the petition circulation as the point of the BGA’s story. The more telling innuendo may be the relatively high level of campaign contributions from government employees.

  24. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:11 pm:

    ===The more telling innuendo may be the relatively high level of campaign contributions from government employees. ===

    30 very politically active people contributed a total of $200K over a number of years not disclosed by the BGA.

    For argument’s sake, say it’s ten years. That’s $700 a year. A lot for some, maybe, but not for that class of people.

    But since Board of Elections’ searches go back to 1994, it could be 19 years.

  25. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    ===The more telling innuendo…===

    And there …is where Andy Shaw is reeling people in …those 4 words … have you willig to take the leap of finding “something” and continuing Shaw’s Narrative, without shaw and the BGA having to explain if the monies are over 5 years, 10 years, 4, 15, … no, the BGA and Shaw, they want you to walk through that door on your own … with …

    ===The more telling innuendo…===

    That maybe why MJM decided to go the route he did, even if MJM himself gets hammered for the letter and the verbage.

  26. - Abe the Babe - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    ===Not sure I saw that specific allegation in the story.==

    Seriously? What was the point of the story then? Its not overtly said because its too difficult to prove. But the story was wrapped up in the quid pro quo banner.

    “the campaign foot soldiers: In many case hold jobs for which politics isn’t supposed to be a factor in hiring, including sanitation laborer, plumber, truck driver, cashier and court reporter.”

  27. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:21 pm:

    ===But the story was wrapped up in the quid pro quo banner. ===

    Yep, it most surely was. Whether that’s valid or not was never alleged. Maybe it will be in the future. Right now, it’s just a story about a bunch of experienced precinct captains who have or had government jobs circulating petitions for the top dog. Read into it whatever you want, but that’s the story right now.

  28. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:24 pm:

    - Abe the Babe -,


    How do you know politics was…. involved?

    That is how Shaw got this going? Now, those 29 or even those 17 have to defend a smear, based on an inuendo, never spoken, but the Author wants to take you all the way to the door, but doesn’t walk you through, but wants, and needs you, to walk through, for the credibility …of nothing said, so nothing needs to be proven …

    That would frost me, and I am sure MJM and the Precinct Captains got frosted too.

  29. - Frau Dulent - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:27 pm:

    Rich, what MJM appeared to have intended, strategically, was to put BGA under the microscope. That succeeded beyond expectations. We’re all for Transparency, right?

  30. - Abe the Babe - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:27 pm:

    ===Right now, it’s just a story about a bunch of experienced precinct captains who have or had government jobs circulating petitions for the top dog===

    My problem is not with the story what the story does or does not prove. I took issue with comparing the two allegations (BGA taking unscrupulous $ with Madigan POSSIBLY giving jobs for campaign work).

    If both are true then one involves poor judgment and the other breaking laws.

  31. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:30 pm:

    There is something fundamentally wrong with a not for profit established for the purposes of fighting government corruption depending on donations from individuals and companies who profit from government. This is compounded by growth. As the BGA grows, it is increasingly dependent upon more and more donations.

    To bash the Speakers “volunteers” for donating time and money and use the fallout from the bashing as a vehicle to ask for donations from others with political interests is flawed. I would be very cautious of using this leverage to seek donations. Look what we did to this guy. It could happen to you-that kinda stuff

  32. - Eugene - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:32 pm:

    I am not an admirer of Andy Shaw or the BGA, but I think all the piling on here is pretty pointless. The central thing is that the Democratic Party in this state is run by a man who is increasingly thin skinned, and who essentially feels that he should be above criticism. In his mind, he is extremely powerful, and therefore is entitled to great deference, in all its forms. When said deference is not forthcoming, he is increasingly prone to lash out. As to his using current or former government workers to pass his petitions, to me that is just a big non-issue. What is more of an issue is that he is an immensely powerful leader who really has no vision for this state, and for whom political power is an end in itself.

  33. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:34 pm:

    –As to his using current or former government workers to pass his petitions, to me that is just a big non-issue.–

    But that was the story.

  34. - Shore - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:38 pm:

    I defended madigan the other day noting that lots of politicians have paid interns who are the kids of donors/supporters.

    However a $2 million payroll is absurd for his supporters. Also ridiculous is that I have no doubt candidates he’s backed in the past have used BGA stories/reports to hit opponents.

    The 1972 story pull is impressive-someone has a long memory.

    “social club dues”-probably essential to fundraising costs but could be phrased better.

  35. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:39 pm:

    ===–As to his using current or former government workers to pass his petitions, to me that is just a big non-issue.===

    But by Andy Shaw and the BGA, with all the inuendo, and taking us all to the doorway and letting go of our hands so we can walk through, it even got you, - Eugene -, to make the issue everything but …

    ===…using current or former government workers to pass his petitions,…===

    Which IS … what got all this churning.

  36. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:42 pm:

    ===However a $2 million payroll is absurd for his supporters…===

    they make what they make. What, now there is a “rule” that the circulators have to have a “Salary Cap”, not unlike the NBA, NFL, or NHL?

    “No candidate can have circulators with combined salaries of 13 times the office salary, or 8 times the salary for public employees circulating”.


    If this turns into “Fantasy Politics” who gets to be the League Commissioner?

  37. - hacker - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:50 pm:

    I can’t stand Shaw, great work by yesterdays posters. Anyone find a story he’s done on one of his donors?

  38. - ZC - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 12:58 pm:

    Whether or not they got jobs, is a non-story in my opinion.

    If Andy Shaw and the BGA can show that these folks are blatantly -unqualified- for the jobs they hold, then yes, that is a story.

    But that’s not what they are running with.

  39. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 1:03 pm:

    @Eugene - I actually don’t much disagree with your criticisms of MJM.

    The thing is as much as I am tired of what I see as MJM’s power for the sake of power governance, I am just as exhausted by Chicago civvies and their wannabe Carnegie/Rockefeller Gilded Age hero routines at the same time they have their noses in the public taxpayer trough just as much as your run of the mill precinct commiteeman. And at least the precinct commiteeman isn’t dressing up his corruption/patronage tax in a goo goo costume the way the Civvies do.

  40. - Eugene - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 1:04 pm:

    Wordslinger: No, that WAS the story. Now the story is the Speaker going nuts because someone criticized him.

  41. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 1:06 pm:

    –And at least the precinct commiteeman isn’t dressing up his corruption/patronage tax in a goo goo costume the way the Civvies do.–

    Goo-goo constume, how appropriate. Yeah, it’s trick and treat every day of the year for some of that crew.

  42. - Eugene - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 1:07 pm:

    @ hisgirlfriday: And I don’t disagree with your characterization of the civvies, as you call them. Though when it comes to pension legislation, they and the Speaker seem to get along just fine.

  43. - National League - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    Like the lack of information about the time period in which the donations were given (is it over the last year or the last 20 years?), the other significant flaw in the BGA report was the lack of context on the payroll number. For what it’s worth, $2 million divided evenly between the 29 people is $68,965 per year. That’s a mid- level salary at best and far less than what many state workers earn by the end of their careers. Providing that context, just like context around the donations, probably doesn’t help the BGA’s agenda so they simply excluded it. Generally they do good work when they keep it tight, like stories about people taking bribes but they completely missed the boat with this story and, at least with me, they lost a lot of credibility with me because of this.

  44. - Henry - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 1:11 pm:

    I passed petitions for Mike Madigan. You know why? Because I wanted to help him. Nobody forced me. These reporters only believe what they want to believe and make up stories because the truth doesn’t sell newspapers.

  45. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 1:20 pm:

    Thank you, Rich, for using the phrase “from an anon commenter.”

  46. - Tommydanger - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 1:38 pm:

    ===His money is as green as anyone else’s.===

    From the Atlantic Wire:

    On Friday, the Navy SEAL Foundation refused to accept proceeds from the sale of the book No Easy Day citing Pentagon accusations that the author leaked classified information about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden. Today, Patt Dossett, director of the Tip of the Spear Foundation, tells The Atlantic Wire his charity is following suit. “We are not accepting proceeds from the sale of this book,” he said, noting that the organization’s ability to help SEAL veterans and families “is based upon a level of trust placed in us … The Foundation takes very seriously the protection of the men and the mission.” Meanwhile, a third Navy SEAL charity, the All in All the Time Foundation, tells the Virginia Pilot it hasn’t yet decided if it will accept Bissonnette’s money. Those three organizations make up the entirety of charitable groups cited by Bissonnette in his book as worthy of receiving financial support. “Help me raise millions of dollars for these organizations,” Bissonnette writes in the book’s last chapter.

    I say again Rich, if your organization is supposed to be against corruption, why would you take money from those persons you believe are the problem? As the Atlantic Wire report indicates, some organizations do have principles that guide them when donations are presented. How hypocritical of the BGA to accept money from the persons who have benefited from the problem they are fighting against.

  47. - johnny o - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    These reporters just can’t stand that mike Madigan outsmarts and outlasts everyone so they have to manufacture stories and theories to hurt working people like me. Yes, yr damm right I passed petitions for mike Madigan only 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 be only fair right? If not, they are nothing but a bunch of elitists with an agenda.

  48. - A guy... - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 3:00 pm:

    A day later there’s a strong sentiment from MJM that you can come after him all you want, but try to besmirch his team and he’ll recoil and strike like a cobra. He’s defining loyalty out loud and personally. To his organization, he’s Ike.

  49. - TMAC - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 3:01 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.

  50. - PublicServant - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 3:07 pm:

    Wait. No response from Andy Shaw? Well, I’m sure he’ll reply after he gets back from the “social club”.

  51. - Karen - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 3:17 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 knocked 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 don’t like them.

  52. - walkinfool - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 3:36 pm:


    You’ve had many great comments and info on this issue! Thanks so much.

  53. - Juvenal - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 3:49 pm:

    It is not just about selling newspapers by beating up on Mike Madigan.

    It is also about a former reporter getting the kid glove treatment from his former colleagues. When a former journalist parleys that job into a nearly $200K a year gig, doing what Andy Shaw does, he’s not just undermining the reputation of the BGA, he is undermining the reputation of journalism.

    Frankly, I am not even suggesting turnabout is fair play. Although I would point out that a Sun-Times story once “uncovered”‘Madigan pays the highest property taxes in his hood, to avoid even the appearance of wrongdoing, so I think it is fair for reporters to ask why Shaw, who used the BGA to endorse Claypool, got huge property tax breaks from a Claypool ally, and is raising “charitable” contributions from Claypool allies.

    But, at the very least, the media ought to treat Shaw as they would any other advocacy group.

    When an “environmental” group is funded largely by coal companies, it is news.

    When a “health research” group is funded by big tobacco, it is news.

    When a “consumer” protection group is funded by utility companies, it is news.

    And when a “nonpartisan” watchdog group is funded by political insiders, it is news.

    So, McKinney, get cracking.

  54. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 4:12 pm:

    @phineas, please tell me where a not for profit is supposed to get money from if not from the community.

    @hisgirlfriday, what the heck is a JB Pritzker type? I mean I know JB. He’s a great guy. Supports a lot of important causes including the BGA. What exactly is wrong with this?

    This level of hysteria here about the BGA is as ridiculous as the over the top response from the kingmaker complaining about someone trying to kingmake (apparently really badly). Andy made one mistake that could be construed as supporting a candidate with the Claypool thing. He has admitted it was a mistake and they haven’t done anything else of that nature. So please tell me who they are trying to make king????

  55. - Juvenal - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 4:50 pm:

    @Chicago Cynic -

    Again, when CORE portrayed itself as a consumer group, despite being funded largely by ComEd, the media covered it and many folks expressed outrage.

    When the BGA portrays itself as a nonpartisan group, despite being run and funded largely by political insiders, it is just as relevant.

    We aren’t talking bit actors here, but people who have contributed 5, 6 or in a few cases, 7 figures to PACs over the years.

  56. - walter sobchak - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 5:30 pm:

    The BGA is an all access advocacy group for bent interests throwing ’stories’ through their transom for specific agendas. ‘Stories’ based on innuendo, insinuation and inference. The BGA has made Faustian pacts with Shaw’s media buddies to drive ratings and fund raising not better government at the expense of credibility and trust. Their board might want to rethink a former TV personality as leader and go for a real reformer with a sense for fair play and real change.

  57. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 6:21 pm:


    Perhaps you should look up the concept of “partisan.” What you’re describing is a group of civically active people. Partisan would suggest they are pursuing a particular partisan agenda, which I debunked earlier. They get most of their money from people who support Democrats and they attack Democrats. By definition, this is not a “partisan” agenda.

  58. - Left Leaner - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 7:20 pm:

    Blue Collar Democrats vs. White Collar Democrats

    This is fun to watch! In all of the talk about fractures in the Republican Party, it’s easy to forget that Democrats have plenty of fractures of their own.

  59. - Juvenal - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 8:18 pm:

    Chicago Cynic:

    Partisan, definition: “a committed member of a political party.”

    Nonpartisan, definition: “free from party affiliation.”

    According to Americans for Campaign Reform, only one half of one percent of Americans make reportable federal campaign contributions.

    Do you and Andy Shaw expect us to believe that it is some coincidence that the BGA is largely governed, funded by and honors people who have contributed thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars to political action committees?

    Sure, you could argue that the BGA is a bipartisan organization. But like any partisans, their goals are to increase their political influence.

  60. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 8:28 pm:

    @Chicago Cynic:

    Just to be clear… A “J.B. Pritzer type” as I intended the term is a very rich person in the Chicago business community who, despite being very rich, spends a lot of money to fund the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates.

  61. - Holdingontomywallet - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 9:17 pm:

    Madigan may be a great politician, if you measure success by keeping his party in power. Sure, the democrats have had control of the Gov’s Office and majorities in the House and Senate since 2002. Great for the Dems, but at some point you have to lead. Where are the accomplishments? Employment numbers are down, the budget is a mess, and there is no pension “fix” in sight. Their only solution seems to be raising taxes. How about growing our economy in the state to increase revenue, attract new employers, and increase employment?

  62. - Juvenal - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 10:51 pm:


    I know Moody’s is the Bible for fiscal conservatives.

    According to their report to the COGFA, manufacturing jobs in Illinois are growing at a good clip.

    The two main drags on employment in Illinois are cuts in the number of public employees and housing construction.

    So, unless you are arguing we start increasing hiring of government employees and invest in affordable housing construction…not sure how we do that without Republicans on board. And more money.

  63. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 31, 13 @ 11:47 pm:

    –How about growing our economy in the state to increase revenue, attract new employers, and increase employment?–

    Under what philosophy of government, politics or economics do state governments do those things in a global capitalist economy?

    Seems rather rather central-planned socialist to me.

    Education. Transportation. Communications. Utilities. Criminal law. Civil law. Public safety. Safety net. Those are the big jobs of state government.

    here was a recession going on, and Japan had been dumping excess auto production capacity on the U.S. market.

    Reagan smacked them down with domestic content laws (saved Harley, too; they were a goner).

    All of a sudden, Japanese auto companies had to start building in the U.S., and governors started falling all over each other for “economic development,” churning out multi-million-dollar press releases for “creating jobs” and the game was on.

    Now you have states savaging each other for existing businesses using taxpayer dollars. You have here, in Illinois, the state putting up money to “create jobs” for companies to move down the street.

    And you have 50 governor “heroes” allegedly “creating jobs.”

    It’s b.s. Consumers are “job creators.” If they ain’t buying, you ain’t selling.

    For states, create the right environment by getting your research universities cranking, provide skilled workers in all fields through the community colleges and K-12, and provides the necessities for transportation and communication and the rest will work itself out.

  64. - Juvenal - Friday, Nov 1, 13 @ 8:27 am:

    Wordslinger is spot on.

    More to the point:

    In a global economy, the President, Congress and the Federal Reserve can barely nudge the economy. Again, as Moody’s pointed out, America’s economic struggles are driven by the economic problems of the European Union, 550 million consumers.

    But when state’s chase jobs by offering open-ended tax breaks, at the expense of education in particular, they create a longterm economic death spiral. We’re picking a handful of short-term economic winners and creating a lot of economic losers in the long run, who then turn to us for more tax breaks.

    There is another key investment Wordslinger missed in addition to: education and job training; infrastructures for energy, transportation and communications.

    Quality of life.

    50 years ago, you could capture jobs by investing in the construction of a factory. Thanks to automation, manufacturing just doesn’t provide the return on jobs for investment that it used to.

    In today’s economy, you have to make the kinds of policy investments that capture high wage workers, creating the communities they want to live in, raise a family in if that is their choice.

    That means investing in parks, cultural institutions. It also means reshaping policies to reflect their values.

    Do you think Dot.commers want to live in a state that promotes marriage inequality, regardless of whether they are gay themselves?

    Or a state that turns its back on the elderly, disabled, the poor?

    Or a state that fails to protect its environment for the enjoyment of future generations?

    Or where the largest city is really the tale of two cities? Where some can enjoy a latte on every street corner and have access to reputable magnet schools - even if it takes a call to the schools CEO to get in - while many live in fear in communities where the basic public infrastructure has been allowed to disintegrate — or even taken apart — brick by brick?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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