* Speaker Madigan loves moving campaign money around. He’ll have an entity (often a union) “park” cash in a member’s account and then eventually have that member write a check to a candidate or to the state party or wherever. It’s mostly designed to legally get around the campaign contribution caps, but it’s sometimes about avoiding putting his own name on a contribution.
Rep. Anna Moeller (D-Elgin), for instance, received four contributions of about $50K each last year, even though she didn’t need the dough for her own campaign.
Also, as I told subscribers earlier this month, Madigan recently wrapped up a series of meetings with incumbents and staff designed to prepare for potential primary campaigns.
* With that in mind…
Seven legislators gave Mike Madigan a whopping $751,400 within the last few weeks — just as the powerful Illinois House speaker’s legal bills mount and federal investigations touch some of his allies.
The lawmakers who spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times about what for most were six-figure donations insist it’s business as usual, routine fundraising by the powerful Southwest Side Democrat, who also serves as Illinois Democratic Party chairman.
“I’ve contributed to others in the past at similar levels,” said state Rep. Anna Moeller, D-Elgin, who gave $57,800. “It wasn’t out of the ordinary.”
What is out of the ordinary is Madigan’s growing legal bills.
So far this year, the speaker has spent $453,608 on lawyers from his campaign fund. Many Illinois politicians dip into their political accounts to pay legal expenses, but the amount Madigan has spent is raising eyebrows.
The legislators interviewed did not ask why Madigan needed the money.
We discussed Madigan’s unprecedented legal expenses on Tuesday. But Friends of MJM ended the quarter with $7 million in its account. Madigan’s 13th Ward committee ended with $1.4 million.
This could be about his legal bills, or it could just be what Rep. Marcus Evans told the Sun-Times about it being for primary races.
But it’s exactly the sort of story to expect when the feds are circling above.
* Zorn: Sham candidates are bad for democracy, but let’s not make a federal case of it: Gonzales’ belief that he would have won a head-to-head matchup against the powerful veteran House speaker is based on the idea — and let’s just go out on a limb and call it a delusion — that a decisive number of voters and prospective funders were scared off by the prospect of a three-way split of the Hispanic vote.
*** UPDATE *** I forgot about this…
I asked the governor’s office for a response…
The governor has said previously there is an ongoing investigation and we need to see how that plays out.