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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best “Do-Gooder” Lobbyist goes to Khadine Bennett of the ACLU

(L)ed the charge on HB 40, transgender birth certificate and civil asset forfeiture bills. She’s always working hard, tries to build bi-partisan support, and works on hard issues that takes coalition building with organizations and sponsors.

That group had a very big year and she was a huge part of it.

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Contract Lobbyist goes to Dick Lockhart

His integrity is unmatched. His record of service - both military and public - is nothing short of legendary. The gentleman literally fired a client in the midst of a committee hearing because the client went back on an agreement previously made on a bill up for consideration. Think about that for a second - a lobbyist firing a client.

* OK, on to today’s categories…

* Best In-House Lobbyist

* Best Legislative Liaison

As always, please explain your votes or they won’t count. And do your very best to nominate in both categories, please. Thanks.


  1. - Spliff - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 2:31 pm:

    In House Lobbyist Nick Yelverton. he knows pensions like no ones business and still keeps track of everything else going on.

    Liaison: Michael Lane. Same agency under 4 governors should say it all. He knows IDOC and how can you work in legislation that long and still have so much hair on your head.

  2. - Anon - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 2:34 pm:

    I’ll second Yelverton for In-house, he really knows his stuff.

    For legislative liaison I’m going Eric Lane from the Comptroller’s office. You don’t get a unanimous override without a ton of leg work and he really earned that win.

  3. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 2:55 pm:

    Before I clicked on the comment button, I though “Nick Yelverton.” I click in, and the first two votes are for Nick! He knows his stuff and he’s always respectful. Nick is especially good at explaining his position and providing plenty of background.

  4. - Conn Smythe - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 2:56 pm:

    Leg liaison- Eric Lane. Had the unenviable task of starting off with Susana’s ill-advised decision to maintain the paycheck blockade and navigated it as well as anyone could have, and then worked the heck out of debt transparency.

    In-house: a joint nomination for the AT&T team for getting telecom rewrite and cell tower bill done in same year. No small feat.

  5. - Iggy - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:06 pm:

    Best Liaison: Michael Lane, IDOC, he knows his agency and knows that the best way to kill a free condoms for inmates bill is to awkwardly explain how they can be used as weapons to naive legislators.

  6. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:12 pm:

    Liaison: Shawn McGady. Hands down he is the most deserving of this honor this year. Everyone, on both sides of the aisle, and from all other lobbying groups have had to contact Shawn at some point this year. He has always been very responsive. No one has had the workload like Shawn and the various issues being dealt with this year by HFS and we all know what those issues are. Further, he has had to testify on so many issues…………ultimately, he is such a class act. Shawn has had meetings at the Capitol as early as 6 am with and has been there at all hours of the night. I would also argue that Shawn has had to arrange more district visits for members than anyone.

    In House-Mark Denzler IMA-No one works harder for the business community than Mark in keeping an agenda together while being a solid liaison with the Governor’s Office. He is one of the smartest guys around while also being so accessible. He is also one of the most charitable people in Springfield and found time to get his pilot’s license this year. Denzler is the pick.

  7. - Les Nesbit - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:12 pm:

    Best In House Lobbyist- Chuck Sullivan

    Best Liaison- Coleman Covington III, he left IEMA for D.C. But before he left this summer he was very involved in helping with the flooding in Lake County. He was always accessible to legislators and staff and was providing constant updates regarding response and other timely updates. He also is just a friendly and knowledgeable person.

  8. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:28 pm:

    In House: Nick Yelverton (IFT)Hard worker that gets along with everyone. Strong relationships with both sides.

    Liaison: Michael Lane (DOC)Corrections is a tough agency and he works hard at getting it done. Also has strong relationships with both sides.

  9. - Man with a Plan - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:32 pm:

    In-house to Marc Poulos at 150. He knows transportation inside and out and is as smart and personable as they come. He works both sides of the aisle and approaches every issue with pragmatism.

    Michael Lane gets best liaison for the aforementioned explanation of weaponized condoms.

  10. - Anonana - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:35 pm:

    Best in-house lobbyist: Steve Selcke, AT&T. Straight-forward, honest, and always has an answer. This year he successfully navigated (well, almost there right now) the telecom rewrite, 911 issue, and the small cell bill. Some big lifts indeed.

    Best Legislative Liaison: Wendy Butler. Just take all the reasons Director Hoffman was awarded the ’shoe and give them to Butler as well. It is a behemoth of an agency and she navigates it with a skill seen in few liaisons. She is responsive to and respectful of legislators, responds on requests with detailed answers, and can work both sides of the aisle. And she does all this, for better or worse, with a legislator husband, which can’t be easy.

  11. - Anon - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:46 pm:

    In-House- Marc Poulos, The lock-box was a one of the hardest things politically, policy, and practically to get passed and he was able to do it. Since then Marc has more irons in the fire than most know. The man is a work horse not a show horse and shys away from the limelight. Lets give him a nod.

  12. - Anon - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:49 pm:

    In House: Jim Reid. IEA. Hard working and knowledgeable.

    Liaison: Michael Lane. Also hard working and knows the issues. IDOC is a tough agency.

  13. - ISUbird86 - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:52 pm:

    In house: I concur with Nick Yelverton. He is a wealth of knowledge on education issues, especially pension funding, and well respected by those on the rail.

    Legislative Liaison: JB Meier at DHS. Explaining their budget constraints to providers and legislators hasn’t been easy the last two years.

  14. - AppleADayKeepstheDocAway - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 3:59 pm:

    Liason: John Webb- IDFPR, happiest Liaison on the block!

  15. - One of Three Puppets - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 4:04 pm:

    In house: unsure.

    Liason: I would have to jump on the Michael Lane train. Surviving 4 governors is enough to give it to him. Only a cockroach would be able to survive that (not saying Lane is a cockroach). The icing on the cake is that he has been able to defeat the free condom bill like the NRA has been able to stop attacks on the 2nd amendment. It’s betting on easy money.

  16. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 4:07 pm:

    Nick Yelverton -He’s a great American and after suffering through another miserable Bears season, the only thing that will keep him going is a Golden Horseshoe. Nick’s a true believer but has the ability to have a rational conversation with all parties while still smiling.

    Liaison - Shawn McGady - not an easy job but does it with professionalism and class.

  17. - FDRDemocrat - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 4:18 pm:

    Inhouse - joint nomination for the AT&T team. Passing telecommunications modernization and small
    cell in one year is a major accomplishment.

  18. - Mocking Jay - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 4:24 pm:

    Best In House Lobbyist: Jim Reed. What a great and knowledgeable guy.
    Best Liaison: Eric Lane with IOC. Hardest working guy in the capitol who knows how to do a roll call better than anyone and can tell you member districts and their constituencies and media markets off the top of his head because he has been everywhere in Illinois.

  19. - Former Golden Shoe - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 4:39 pm:

    Lobbyist: Nick Yelverton- he is one of those “union thugs” that representing the underpaid public servants called teachers. He has the institutional knowledge needed to protect teachers pensions, which is huge. But more importantly, his snark can either make a bad day under the dome worse or the ability to make you laugh because he actually said what we were all thinking- just ask his sidekick Mr. Denny (snort). In all seriousness teachers are under attack, under appreciated and the education field is lucky to have someone like Nick at the capitol fighting for them.

    Liaison: Michelle Davis- She is no longer in DCFS’s legislative shop (Director’s office now) but Babs is like glue- she has the ability and institutional knowledge to keep that wobbling wagon wheel working. She knows the importance of constituent service, has the relationships at the capitol and the ability to stay calm (which is key for anyone working at DCFS).

  20. - WIU Leatherneck - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 4:53 pm:

    Best In House Lobbyist-Greg St Aubin and team @ Il Realtors.

    Best Legislative Liaison-John Webb @ IDFPR.

  21. - You could say, I couldn't - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 5:09 pm:

    Hmm. I have to express an unpopular opinion about Dick Lockhart. I remember being on staff many years ago and asking Lockhart about a particular amendment to a bill. He told me that it was just “technical,” even though it was clearly substantive. To this day I’m not quite sure what the amendment meant, but I am sure that Lockhart was not forthcoming.

    Take this for what It’s worth, but the lesson should be that memories are long in Springfield and regardless of your good name, some people will remember.

  22. - UIS Alum - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 5:15 pm:

    Every player at the statehouse knows Marc Poulos with Chicagoland Operators PAC is one of the 5 or 10 most effective lobbyists under the dome. His legislative accomplishments reach far beyond just transportation and union issues. His energy and relentlessness are unrivaled. If you were going to build the perfect in-house lobbyist in a laboratory, you would quite literally build this guy.

  23. - Balance transfer - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 5:29 pm:

    Best in-house lobbyist: Marc Poulos. Marc is by far the sharpest and hardest working lobbyist in Springfield. He knows his issues better than anyone and, due to how articulate and bright he is, is by far the most effective in-house lobbyist. He has a rare ability to see the big picture when it comes to any issue he is advocating.

  24. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 6:28 pm:

    AA doesn’t spend a lot of time under the Dome as of late, but I know enough to cast a vote for Nick Yelverton. He’s the goods on pensions, and delivers information effectively and objectively. His wry sense of humor also helps on a long day, of which there are many in his world.

    Michael Lane deserves an award for survivorship if nothing else, but he also does a fine job with a tough agency.

  25. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 6:35 pm:

    Clearly, Republicans need not apply.

  26. - Weather reporter - Wednesday, Dec 20, 17 @ 8:25 pm:

    Liaison: Michael Mahoney. He served a the governor’s top legislative liaison for the first seven months of this year. His determination, affability and old-school grit held the House and Senate GOP caucuses together longer than anyone ever imagined. Mike was the glue that held the caucus together and kept Jim Durkin sane all the way to the end. Rauner never understood and never appreciated how much Mahoney did to keep him in the game for additional months. Along the way, he helped broker major criminal justice reforms and a laundry list of agency initiatives that Rauner now takes credit for. Mahoney also should win this year hands down for the integrity and class he demonstrated during the Great Purge - walking out in solidarity with people he respected and doing so with grace. And even after all of that, Mahoney saved Rauner’s behind during veto session, devoting his every minute to keeping GOP members off the right to work bill. Effective, determined, creative, loyal and courageous. He is someone we should celebrate during this holiday season - a bright spot in an otherwise depressing year.

  27. - Wrigleyville Willy - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 7:57 am:

    In-House: Ben Brockshmidt with the Chamber. He’s smart, well respected, and someone that can bring parties together on an issue. His golf game is okay too.

    Liaison: Rob Dixon w/ IDFPR. He’s now over at IEMA. I don’t know if there’s anyone who works as hard as this guy. Very responsive and well-versed in the issues relating to his department. IEMA is lucky to have him.

  28. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 8:05 am:

    ===Clearly, Republicans need not apply. ===

    Instead of posting a stupid (and false) drive-by comment, you could’ve nominated somebody. Nope. You’d rather play the victim. Goodbye.

  29. - theCardinal - Thursday, Dec 21, 17 @ 12:07 pm:

    Best Liaison: Michael Lane one call to him gets the job done and he is always on call.

    In House IMLs Mark Denzler he gets the job done and is reasonable to work with

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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