* 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.
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.