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*** UPDATED x1 *** This just in… Denny Hastert indicted

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* From the US Attorney…


CHICAGO — The former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives was charged today with structuring the withdrawal of $952,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000, and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his withdrawals. The defendant, JOHN DENNIS HASTERT, 73, of Plano, Illinois, was charged with one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI in an indictment returned by a federal Grand Jury. He will be ordered to appear for arraignment on a later date in U.S. District Court.

According to the indictment, in 2010, Hastert agreed to provide Individual A $3.5 million in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A. From 2010 to 2014, Hastert withdrew a total of approximately $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts and provided it to Individual A. Beginning in approximately July 2012, Hastert started structuring his cash withdrawals in increments of less than $10,000 to evade the filing of Currency Transaction Reports (“CTRs”), which banks are required to file for cash withdrawals in excess of $10,000. In December of 2014, when questioned by the FBI regarding his structuring of cash withdrawals, Hastert falsely stated that he was keeping the cash.

The charges were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Stephen Boyd, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division.

Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is being represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Block and Carrie Hamilton.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

* The complete indictment is here

1. At times material to this indictment:

a. From approximately 1965 to 1981, defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Illinois. From approximately 1981 to 2007, defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT was an elected public official, including eight years as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. From approximately 2008 to the present, defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT has worked as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

b. Individual A has been a resident of Yorkville, Illinois and has known defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT most of Individual A’s life.

c. In or about 2010, Individual A met with defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT multiple times. During at least one of the meetings, Individual A and defendant discussed past misconduct by defendant against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.

d. During the 2010 meetings and subsequent discussions, defendant JOHN DENNIS HASTERT agreed to provide Individual A $3.5 million in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A.

e. Shortly thereafter, defendant began providing Individual A cash payments.

Oh, man, this doesn’t look good at all.

*** UPDATE *** Yeah, this does not look good

Although the indictment specifies neither the “bad acts” nor the victims, sources said they could be from before Hastert, who is now a lobbyist in Washington, entered politics in 1980. [Emphasis added.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   111 Comments      

What Isn’t Exelon Telling You about Its Corporate Bailout Legislation?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Exelon is already getting bailed out by the PJM auction and doesn’t need legislators to vote for a rate increase to bail them out a second time

• Exelon will receive hundreds of millions in new annual revenue through a revised PJM electric grid auction to be held later this summer.

Illinois ratepayers will be socked with a rate increase to pay for this new revenue.

Exelon is spending billions in other states – often in cash - so what are they planning to do with $1.6 billion from Illinois?

Exelon is spending $6.8 billion IN CASH to purchase Pepco Holdings.

• Exelon is offering more than $180 million in refunds, job training and renewable energy programs to Maryland and D.C. ratepayers as part of the Pepco takeover.

Exelon opposes subsidies and above-market contracts — except when they’re for Exelon

• “We’re saying we don’t want to be subsidized and no one should be subsidized in the competitive markets…” Exelon CEO Chris Crane, 5/13/14

• “Exelon has long believed that there is no need to promote subsidies for proven technologies at any cost, nor for electricity consumers or taxpayers to pay more than required for a clean electricity supply.” – Exelon Website

Just say no to the Exelon Bailout. Vote No on SB 1585/HB 3293.

BEST Coalition is a 501C4 nonprofit group of dozens of business, consumer and government groups, as well as large and small businesses. Visit

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*** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* Sun-Times

In March, Rauner tapped Beth Purvis, a former charter school director, as his education secretary at an annual salary of $250,000. […]

But her contract, signed March 13, indicates that she’s being paid out of the Department of Human Services, even as it indicates she will “report directly to the governor’s chief of staff or designee.”

Three weeks after Purvis’ contract was signed, the governor’s office announced that the Department of Human Services was strapped for cash, and sliced $26 million in services including for autism, epilepsy and burials for the indigent. The cuts, later known as “the Good Friday Massacre,” caused some programs to completely shut down. The cuts caused a furor, prompting House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, to call a public hearing on why it happened after Democrats said they believed a budget deal with the governor protected such services.

* But check this out

Reached by phone while at a conference in California on Wednesday, Purvis declined comment

Um, wait.

It’s May 28th, three days before the May 31st end of session deadline and she’s in California?

* Ms. Purvis…

* The Question: Caption?

And keep it clean, people.

*** UPDATE *** Sun-Times

llinois House Democrats are asking Gov. Bruce Rauner to appear before a House committee to explain why the governor’s office arranged to have his $250,000-a-year education czar paid out of money meant for “the frailest and most vulnerable populations in the state.” […]

In a letter to Rauner, obtained by the Sun-Times, state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Ill., questions testimony by then-Acting DHS Secretary Gregory Bassi and then-interim secretary James Dimas “that the lack of available funding was responsible for the decision to eliminate or reduce funding for these vitally needed programs. These programs serve many of the frailest and most vulnerable populations in the state.”

“I invite you to appear before the House Human Services Appropriations Committee to explain the decision-making process that led to this situation. We are also interested to know if there are other department heads whose compensation is buried within the budgets of departments other than those that they lead,” wrote Harris, chairman of the committee.

The full letter is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   159 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Update on lobbying the executive branch

Thursday, May 28, 2015

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Afternoon thought

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* I really miss Judy Baar Topinka.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      

Today’s illustrative tweet

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* Whew…

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      

On the bright side…

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* This thing looks like it’s rolling forward

State lawmakers believe they’ve reached a deal on a police reform package that includes guidelines for body cameras.

Legislators said at the beginning of the year that police reform was going to be a key issue this session. Senate Bill 1304 aims to address several areas besides body cameras, including officer-related homicide investigations and additional training. It also includes $6 million in funding for crime labs at the request of House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. […]

The package contains provisions for police body cameras but does not mandate them. The bill would change the current eavesdropping laws requiring two-party consent to allow officers to record without permission.

Police who decide to wear the cameras could only turn them off when talking with a witness or victim or during personal and strategic conversations. All interactions with the public would have to be recorded.

* More

The package, negotiated by state Rep. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, calls for adding a $5 fee to traffic tickets, with a portion going to pay for cameras.

It also sets out rules for how officer-involved incidents are investigated, including a requirement that officers from outside of a department are called in to investigate.

“What we wanted are objective eyes on an incident,” Sims said.

The proposal also outlines how reports are to be made public in order to ensure there is no secrecy.

* And no Republican opposition means there’s no current Rauner brick. Good news, for a change

The Illinois House on Wednesday overwhelming pushed through a sweeping measure aimed at curbing heroin use and preventing overdose deaths by expanding specialized drug courts that focus on treatment.

The measure also would require police departments and fire houses to stock opioid antidotes that could be used to counteract heroin overdoses. In addition, the state’s Medicaid health care program for the poor would have to cover the cost of drug treatment programs. […]

The House approved the measure 114-0, though Republicans expressed concern about the possible costs of the bill, which originally were estimated to be as high as $25 million a year. […]

The measure also attempts to strengthen the state Department of Human Services’ prescription monitoring program to help doctors and pharmacies detect “doctor shoppers,” a practice in which drug addicts obtain various prescriptions from several doctors. It also establishes drug education programs for schools and reforms drug court programs to keep users out of jail and in rehabilitation programs.

Despite all the other implosions, some serious progress is truly being made on crime issues this year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

“Always bet on nothing”

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Since it opened a decade ago, the Lincoln museum has been under the control of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The museum has its own advisory board, but House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie says those advisors were frustrated. […]

Under Currie’s proposal, the two will operate independently.

Gov. Bruce Rauner had wanted Historic Preservation to adopt a tourism focus and be merged with the state’s economic development agency. But that idea was dropped over concerns Historic Preservation would lose its focus on, well, historic preservation.

* But unless both chambers pass it and can override a veto, this ain’t happening

“My understanding from our staff is (the Rauner administration is) copacetic with these changes in the structure of HPA on the one hand and ALPLM on the other,” Currie said.

She said details are still being worked out on the idea of creating a public-private partnership for some of DCEO’s economic development activities.

However, Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly disputed Currie’s statement.

“We do not support this legislation,” Kelly said.

* And until the war dies down, this probably ain’t happening, either

ayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to solve his police and fire pension problem by paying less upfront, taking longer to pay off the debt and getting some of the money to cover what the city owes from a Chicago casino.

The approach is designed to soften a massive financial hit expected next year, when the city is required to increase its payments into the two pension funds by $549 million as required by a 2010 state law. That’s equal to nearly one-sixth of the city’s yearly operating budget and accounts for the bulk of a 2016 budget shortfall now pegged at nearly $1 billion.

Emanuel, however, wants to hit the reset button. Instead of paying the additional $549 million next year, the city would spend significantly less than that. Then the city would start to increase how much it puts into the police and fire pension systems over a number of years while also spreading out its payments over a longer period of time.

The mayor’s plan comes three years after he first traveled to Springfield to declare that the city’s financial day of reckoning was fast approaching. Emanuel is now trying to persuade lawmakers to act on a specific proposal, but he’s doing so as they remain embroiled in their own stalemate over state budget woes.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

More on strike preparedness

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* Amanda followed up on my post yesterday about the strike Contingency Preparation Form sent to agency heads

Rauner’s spokesman ignored repeated inquiries about the origin of the leaked document; instead he said only that “we continue to negotiate in good faith.”

I can’t tell you where and how I got it, of course, but I can say the form was most definitely not leaked by the governor’s office.

* More

AFSCME’s spokesman says there’s never been a strike in the 40 years Illinois has had collective bargaining. But he says after six months of contract negotiations, the two sides remain far apart. The union spokesman went on to call the Contingency Preparation Form a “troubling sign” that Rauner’s pushing for a confrontation that’d disrupt important state services.

I still think it’s just reasonable management to have preparations at the ready in case a strike does happen.

* More

The governor was asked in mid-May if state employees should be concerned about layoffs or a strike. “Hopefully not,” he said. “We’ve got to make some big changes. Changes are hard. And there’s going to be a lot of resistant to change.” Rauner went on to say he wants to be able to pay employees more, based on productivity - not just seniority, “so we’re going to have some tough discussions. But I want everybody who works in government to have a great career. I want them to be well compensated. I want them to have a great retirement. But we need a system that’s affordable, and also incentives everybody to save taxpayer money because the tax burden on our citizens is too high already.” […]

“I may have to … take a strike and shut the government down for a few weeks … that’s a possibility,” [Rauner said in March of 2013]. “I don’t know many politicians who would be willing to do that. I won’t be happy doing it, but I will do it proudly because it’s the right thing to do.”

Which Rauner will emerge?

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      

Workers’ comp reforms go down in flames

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* From

Stephen Schneider, Midwest region vice president at the American Insurance Association in Deerfield, Illinois, said the insurance community is optimistic that Illinois lawmakers will have continued discussions during the current session about workers comp reforms, including some ideas the AIA would like to see proposed.

Those include controls on physician dispensing of medication to workers comp claimants and tying the state’s workers comp medical fee schedule to a percentage of Medicare pricing for similar services.

“It’s going to be day-by-day through the end of session and perhaps longer,” Mr. Schneider said of the chances of action on comp-related legislation.

PCI’s Mr. Junkas agreed that workers comp reforms may still be on the table for Illinois, saying many political experts expect the legislative session to extend beyond its scheduled May 31 adjournment.

“There’s going to be continual discussions ongoing, and I think workers compensation’s going to remain in that mix,” Mr. Junkas said.

* I agree that workers’ comp reform needs to be on the table and could actually be resolved eventually. But, man, things aren’t going all that well these days. From yesterday’s Senate hearing on workers’ comp reform

Greg Baise of the Illinois Manufacturers Association said workers’ compensation costs hang “like an anvil around the necks of job creators in Illinois. We’ve seen the loss of 300,000 manufacturing jobs since the turn of the century, and reforming workers’ compensation is the first step in making our state more attractive.”

Several times during the debate tempers became short, particularly when Barickman said that the decisions of other states could be “used as a template” for Illinois lawmakers. He cited changes in Florida, Oregon and Indiana.

“Where is your proposal for us to consider?” Barickman asked of committee chairman Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago.

“Mine was a 2011 package that we negotiated with employers at the table, the right way,” Raoul responded, his voice rising in anger. “As far as these working groups, senator, I brought up the same points that I’m bringing up today. They were not addressed, senator.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Ask the Insurance Industry “Where’s the money?”

Thursday, May 28, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Two recent studies published by NPR/Pro Publica and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) show that nationwide, insurance companies have kept any cost savings from recent workers’ compensation “reforms” for themselves, with profits climbing to 18 percent in 2013 – while middle and lower-income families and taxpayers are paying the price.

In 2011 Illinois enacted its own workers’ compensation “reform” package aimed at lowering costs for businesses. Workers gave up longstanding rights and in return, insurance companies were to be transparent with pricing and pass savings along to employers. As it turns out, only the workers kept up their end of the bargain.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) is an independent, non-partisan agency comprised of insurance professionals licensed by the Illinois Department of Insurance to assess workers’ compensation in Illinois and make premium rate recommendations to insurers. Since 2011, NCCI has recommended insurance premium reductions totaling nearly 20 percent.

The 2011 reforms were projected to save insured employers nearly $1 billion assuming the insurance industry would fully adopt the NCCI recommendations.
The insurance industry’s failure to fully implement NCCI recommended rate reductions has prevented Illinois insured employers from realizing any meaningful savings.

No matter how many benefits are cut, medical reimbursements are lowered, and claims are denied, the state’s businesses won’t see corresponding savings without our leaders addressing the promises previously broken by the insurance industry.

For more about workers’ compensation, click here.

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Today’s quotable

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet)

“Once again, it looks like Speaker (Mike) Madigan is going to preside over another round of long overtime summer sessions under his third or fourth governor now. What’s the common denominator in all of this? Madigan.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      

An ever-widening war

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* Greg Hinz

As Springfield battles over Gov. Bruce Rauner’s pro-business “turnaround” agenda, you’d think he’d want the top business group in the state’s economic center at his side. And you’d think that group would be fully engaged.

In fact, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is being snubbed by the governor after it appeared to snub him—frozen out of key negotiations over business-oriented legislation put before the General Assembly.

Though both sides are trying to play down any dispute, there’s bad blood between the GOP governor and the state’s largest business group. And the topic of why the chamber is being dissed is sparking all kinds of chatter among other business groups. It certainly reveals a few things about how power works in Chicago and Illinois, as well as the obstacles Rauner faces in getting approval for his ideas on workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance reform, limits on unions, an end to the prevailing wage and other changes. […]

“They’re the largest business organization in the state, and they have to get updates from others because they’re not at the table,” another source said. “It comes directly from the governor’s office. No question about it.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      

Back to the future?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* Remember this one?…

We raised a bunch of money for charity with those slogans and more on mouse pads, t-shirts, polo shirts, coffee mugs, even (by special request) underwear.

We may be revisiting that idea.

Thanks to Dave Comerford for the post, by the way.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Why Illinois Needs The Low Carbon Portfolio Standard

Thursday, May 28, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

The Low Carbon Portfolio Standard (LCPS) is good for Illinois consumers, our economy, our environment, and the reliability of our electric system. The LCPS is a WIN-WIN for all of Illinois’ low carbon sources of energy, which include wind, solar and existing nuclear facilities.

Unfortunately, energy policies of the past have failed to properly value Illinois’ nuclear facilities for the economic, reliability and environmental benefits they provide, and as a result, some nuclear facilities may close. If that happens, the consequences of consumers and communities all across the state of Illinois would be catastrophic:

    • $1.8 billion every year in lost economic activity
    • Nearly 8,000 jobs lost, many of which are highly skilled, good paying jobs
    • Up to $500 million annually in higher energy costs statewide, according to a PJM analysis
    • $1.1 billion per year due to increases in carbon and other pollutants
    • Hundreds of millions of dollars to construct new transmission lines

In fact, the cost to Illinois of allowing nuclear plants to prematurely retire are as much as 12 times greater than the maximum cost of the LCPS, when fully considering increased wholesale power prices, transmission costs, adverse economic impacts, and adverse environmental impacts, according to a State of Illinois report.

Members of the General Assembly: Vote YES on the
Low Carbon Portfolio Standard (HB 3293 & SB 1585)

Learn more at

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Keep calm and… Oh, nevermind

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* AP

Democrats have abandoned Gov. Bruce Rauner’s idea to privatize the state’s business-development agency but are moving ahead with Speaker Michael Madigan’s plan to make the state’s shrine to Abraham Lincoln a separate agency. […]

Democrats proceeded with their agenda, [Speaker Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown] said, because Rauner’s press operation has been churning out anti-Madigan statements over disagreement on a budget plan and Rauner’s business reforms in the closing days of the spring session.

“We were trying to put together a plan in cooperation with the governor that had a lot of transparency,” Brown said. “But I guess I’d have to say right now it’s under review while the governor calms down.”

* Needless to say, the governor ain’t calming down. From a press release issued early this morning…

Will Legislators “Continue to be part of the Madigan-Cullerton problem, or will they stand up for the people of Illinois?”

On the heels of rejecting compromise worker’s compensation reforms to grow the economy, legislators controlled by Speaker Madigan will consider compromise lawsuit reform and property tax freeze legislation today.

Belleville News Democrat - Editorial: Same sad story for Illinois

    “We had hoped that this time it would be different, but no. Illinois lawmakers seem ready to wrap up their spring legislative session and once again kick the budget can down the road. No solutions? No problem. Guess no one really should be surprised that Democratic leaders Michael Madigan and John Cullerton are choosing not to work with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. The new governor wants to reform the way Illinois does business but the two grizzled veteran leaders have no desire to change. Illinois may be dysfunctional, but it’s a system that works just fine for them and political insiders. It’s so incestuous…

    It’s so blatant it’s breathtaking, and Republican lawmakers alone can’t stop them. They would need help from rank-and-file Democrats who are also fed up with refusing to address the state’s fiscal problems. What will our local Democratic lawmakers do? Will they continue to be part of the Madigan-Cullerton problem, or will they stand up for the people of Illinois?”

Rockford Register Star – Editorial: Who will right Illinois’ fiscal ship?

    “’You just can’t spend like a bunch of drunken sailors all the time.’

    No, that wasn’t Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner or one of his Republican allies who said that, although it certainly would have been appropriate after Democrats passed a budget that would have the state spend $3 billion or $4 billion more than it expects to take in.

    It was the state’s former treasurer and comptroller, Judy Baar Topinka, who died late last year. Topinka’s remark came after Gov. George Ryan’s 2002 budget address. Needless to say things have not gotten better in Illinois the past 13 years…

    …The governor wants reforms and Madigan has shot down those reforms. The governor asks for responsible spending and Madigan and his friends pass a budget that has a huge hole in it.

    Reform and budget negotiations should not be separated, as Madigan wants. There’s no better time to discuss one because it affects the other. When politics works, it’s a give-and-take process.

    You don’t have to buy into everything Rauner wants to acknowledge that Illinois must change to have a competitive economy in the 21st century…”

* The governor’s press shop also just sent reporters the Senate committee testimony this morning of Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs Richard Goldberg. The following sentences were the ones specifically highlighted by the governor’s staff…

Unfortunately, no compromise is ever good enough for those who stand in the way of reform.

In short, while Governor Rauner says Yes to reform and Yes to compromise, the legislators in control of the General Assembly say No to reform, No to compromise, Yes to unbalanced budgets and Yes to higher taxes without reform.

Taxpayers are fed up pouring their hard-earned money into a broke and broken system. This morning, this Committee and those in control of the Senate have an opportunity to change course.

The bill before you is a critical reform we need to Turnaround Illinois – to make Illinois more competitive, to grow our economy and to create jobs. The bill before you represents compromise and reform.

- Posted by Rich Miller   88 Comments      

*** LIVE *** Session coverage

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* Another session day, another live session coverage post via ScribbleLive, sponsored by The Illinois Kids Campaign. Just a few regularly scheduled days left

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Good morning!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

* Steady, are you ready?

Take another bite

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Tribune asked 16 mayoral candidates to release tax returns, 6 complied
* A rough idea of what they're looking at
* Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Rauner was wrong about "record levels" of unionization
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Stava-Murray updates
* Pritzker's inauguration ball tix will benefit Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic and Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation
* Rauner claims he's been too busy to reflect on his term
* Pritzker's day in DC
* *** UPDATED x3 - Morrison wants emergency meeting of ILGOP - McConnaughay explains - Schneider responds *** Rauner says he tried to drop out of race after primary
* Feds re-raid Ald. Burke's office
* Yesterday's stories

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