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*** UPDATED x1 *** Madigan contributions examined

Friday, Jul 19, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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.

* Related…

* 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.


  1. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 10:57 am:

    (Something seemingly smart, an attempt to be too witty, a play on words, then a borrow of a quote… finish with tired cliche’)

    Follow the money.

  2. - Steve - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 10:59 am:

    Rich, is “parking” cash legal in political campaigns? I’m not a campaign lawyer so there’s no sarcasm here.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:03 am:

    To the Post,

    Part and parcel of this moving of monies is the law, and the laws requiring disclosure and frankly gamesmanship to the politics of hiding assets (not in a monetary sense, asset, but a positive in the balance sheet of political measure) so opponents are unaware of what they face until they wavy the opponent to know.

    Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die?

    Sounds simple enough, the song to it is sung by those wanting reform, but the trick isn’t wanting that, but to force it, the rules themselves must change to make it.

    Kinda like Cicci explaining how buttons work, how buffers exist, and the rules are the rules… and the ways can’t or won’t change until the rules change first.

  4. - Grand Avenue - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:04 am:

    The “contribution limits” are a joke. They were put in place as a reaction to Rod’s $25k club but if someone wants to they can get around them and donate as much as they want.

    I would support getting rid of the limits. The trade-off can be more frequent disclosure.

  5. - Amalia - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:12 am:

    yeah, follow the money is an interesting game. someone gives to someone who gives to someone so you see that the first someone really meant to give it to the third. or so it seems.

  6. - Just Me 2 - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:22 am:

    J.B.’s excuse is lame. Totally lame. Show some leadership, dude. Democrats are all upset because Republicans won’t call it Trump; but this Democrat is doing the exact same thing national Republicans are doing.

  7. - DIstant watcher - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:25 am:

    Many of those giving to MJM are in leadership, and it’s not at all unusual for leaders to give to the speaker and the party, especially going into an election year. The Sun-Times established that these two events (fund transfers and legal costs) happened at about the same time but they haven’t established that there’s any deeper connection between them. So far, it’s just a little smoke and no fire.

  8. - Steve - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:25 am:

    Has anyone asked JB if the FBI has come to ask him questions about anyone who’s been raided in the last year?

  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:27 am:

    ===People connected to Madigan raided by the FBI:

    Kevin Quinn
    ex-Ald. Michael Zalewski
    Michael McClain

    What does Madigan’s chief fundraiser… ===


    Now IPI wants comments on things no one really has an idea where it’s actually headed?

    The smart comment is what the governor’s office said.

    … be it friend, foe, ally, or rival.

    Watch what does happen.

  10. - JJJJJJJJJJJ - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:33 am:

    ==Rich, is “parking” cash legal in political campaigns? I’m not a campaign lawyer so there’s no sarcasm here.==

    Not rich and also not a lawyer, but I believe so. There’s really no restrictions on committee transfers. There’s certainly no law that says transfers/contributions have to stay in one committee or can’t leave at any time for any reason.

  11. - RNUG - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    Getting rid of the limits might slow things a bit, but it won’t really change the game. Part of the game at the State level is being able to ride to the rescue of an endangered incumbent and / or being able to. scare off poorly funded opponents just through the threat of a huge pile of cash that could be used against them.

    You want to really change the game?

    Eliminate pass-thru funds and bundling. You could still allow PACs,but only single issue ones. Make all the money go directly to a candidate’s fund. And when a politician retires, any leftover canpaign funds should go to the city / state / federal treasury based on the position that campaign fund was set up for.

    That will never happen … but it would be a game changer.

  12. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:36 am:

    The Governor can certainly comment on whether it is appropriate for Illinois elected Democrats to contribute $751,000 to the Speaker that can be used for legal fees can’t he?

    I am sure if the shoe was on the other foot he would be behind a podium right now pounding it, talking about a culture of corruption in Illinois.

  13. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:47 am:

    ===I am sure if the shoe was on the other foot ===

    Whose foot? He didn’t jump into the fray over Bill Brady and video poker.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    ===I am sure if the shoe was on the other foot he would be behind a podium right now pounding it, talking about a culture of corruption in Illinois.===

    I’d hope not.

    The smart comment is what the governor’s office said.

    … be it friend, foe, ally, or rival.

    Watch what does happen.

  15. - Arsenal - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:49 am:

    ==The Governor can certainly comment==

    He could, but he’s not required to help ILGOP out.

  16. - Timing - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:51 am:

    Curious if team JB was aware of the raids in May. Maybe played a role in how session shook out?

  17. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:53 am:

    - Lucky Pierre -

    Not everyone is looking for the chance to arbitrarily call folks “corrupt” when no one actually knows what is going on.

    It’s an obsession; call someone corrupt because you disagree with them politically.

    Then… make sure you say… “if the shoe was on the other foot” to seem… thoughtful.

  18. - A guy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    ==The legislators interviewed did not ask why Madigan needed the money.==


  19. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:00 pm:

    ===Curious if team JB was aware of the raids in May. Maybe played a role in how session shook out?===

    Heat stroke and dehydration is real.

    It makes the ridiculous in people’s minds seem like thoughtful and logical reasoning.

    Cooling stations are found on the Google.


  20. - Chicagonk - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:02 pm:

    Starting to look a lot like Operation Greylord. And don’t be surprised if this investigation starts proceeding in a bipartisan manner.

  21. - Powdered Whig - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    === Starting to look a lot like Operation Greylord. And don’t be surprised if this investigation starts proceeding in a bipartisan manner. ===

    Tinfoil Hat Alert!!!

  22. - Steve - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    It’s probably safe to say that JB isn’t running the Trump Justice Department’s agenda concerning their work project on elected Democrats in positions of power in Illinois.

  23. - Adm Stckd'le - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:09 pm:

    & this is why the faux outrage over Citizens United is suspect; both parties use their own dark$ gambits to move members’/committees/Pacs campaign-funds around at both state/federal levels as the age-old pressure of whipping votes or paying leadership dues

  24. - Steve - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:12 pm:

    - Powdered Whig -

    Nobody knows exactly where all of these is going to go but.. it could be big. The Chicago Sun-Times reporters suggested this months ago.

  25. - Powdered Whig - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:15 pm:

    - Steve -

    Regardless of what happens, there is nothing about Democratic Members of the GA sending money to the Democratic Party Chair that remotely resembles Greylord.

  26. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    The Cuckoo Conspiracists are out in force today.

  27. - Annonin' - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:39 pm:

    Speakin’ of on-goin’ stuff anyone asked GovJunk et. al about progress at the Adams Co Grand Jury on the vets deaths at Quincy?

  28. - SSL - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 12:55 pm:

    Do we really know anything more than Madigan has some big legal bills? Not really.

    And why would JB say anything when there’s nothing to talk about.

    If the feds don’t turn somebody over that knows where the bodies are buried, then they’ve got nothing. Madigan is a throwback to old machine politics, and proud of it. Not much to like about the guy, but he didn’t get where he is by being stupid, and his inner circle loyalists haven’t cracked yet.

  29. - Blinders - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:00 pm:

    The conspiracy theories are priceless. Too many people will be sorely disappointed if it turns out this has nothing to do with Madigan. The man seems to get blamed or held responsible for the actions of everyone around him. I’m shocked there aren’t claims Madigan is responsible for the oppressive heat or the lack of a GOP candidate against Durbin.

  30. - Chicagonk - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:01 pm:

    A lot of people apparently have their heads in the sand about where this is all heading judging by the comments.

  31. - Nagidam - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    The entire Campaign Finance law was built so that the caucus leaders can control more of the money. Madigan just has the Unions in his back pocket so he controls more money in general. Look at the rules. The money flows upward to the caucus PAC. Frankly and individual legislator (See Stavos Murray) are limited in their potential donations.

  32. - Shamrockery - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    ==Starting to look a lot like Operation Greylord. And don’t be surprised if this investigation starts proceeding in a bipartisan manner.==

    The late Brocton Lockwood (the judge who wore the wire) wrote a book about Operation Greylord. If you read it, you’ll know just how silly this statement is.

  33. - Amalia - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:10 pm:

    there’s going to be lots of looking at who gives money to whom for what. when you are a candidate, or running for reelection, there is a certain tithing that goes on. start looking at Township races.

  34. - Amalia - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    so can we look for the big and little Arroyo family members and their ticket hating pal on lists?

  35. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:30 pm:

    Are the federales going to go after every congressional campaign in America? Every state legislative campaign in America? This is common practice and is not straw contributing or any sort of malfeasance. On the contrary, totally prohibiting such practices would likely run afoul of our rights to political association, which apply equally to everyone, whether you are a candidate, elected official, voter, or someone who chooses not to participate.

  36. - Steve - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:48 pm:

    - Powdered Whig -

    We don’t know the full extent of this investigation . But, it could be as big as Greylord (when all is said and done) because Alderman Burke and Alderman Solis are tied to many powerful people at the city, county, state , and federal level. It’s not likely that just Alderman Burke will be the only public official indicted. The feds have already said in court this is a “complex and unusual” investigation when they went for two delays in indicting Alderman Burke. Remember, Burke did get indicted for RICO. Burke’s wife is going to Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court by the end of the year.

  37. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:49 pm:

    ===because Alderman Burke and Alderman Solis===

    It’s not 100 percent that this MJM thing is tied to those two.

  38. - Techie - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 2:57 pm:

    I would love to see approval voting used for statewide elections in Illinois. Then Democrats who don’t want to toe the party line on every issue could run under another party or as an independent and use their own money instead of depending on Madigan and sticking to his rules to get their share.

  39. - Prediction - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    OW’s comments on these matters will age poorly…

  40. - Steve - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:04 pm:


    You could be right. We just don’t know yet. It’s just that when MJM’s name shows up near the beginning of an Danny Solis’ FBI search warrant. .. it’s possible. But, I’ll be the first to concede MJM hasn’t been charged with anything and may never be charged with anything. I’ll even say MJM might be the Illinois Speaker 20 years from today because he’s one disciplined individual.

  41. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    ===comments on these matters will age poorly===


    I’m constantly amazed at the “we’ll hang them, then have a trial” crowd.

    Innocent until proven partisan?

    Go with that.

  42. - lake county democrat - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 3:26 pm:

    Is intentionally “parking” money with sundry entities and later directing them to make contributions to “legally get around campaign finance limits” indeed legal? Has that been tested in court?

  43. - People caring loudly - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 4:10 pm:

    Hey LCD, the googles are helpful (that whole money as speech thing)

  44. - lake county democrat - Friday, Jul 19, 19 @ 4:46 pm:

    Hey PCL - reading is a skill - I didn’t challenge “that whole money as speech thing” whether limits on organizations like unions are legal/Constitution, I questioned whether a knowing scheme of politicians acting in concert with the unions to launder otherwise illegal contributions.

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