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Madigan: Subpoenas would be “extreme”

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* Yesterday, House Speaker Michael Madigan handed out a list of seven instances when the Rauner administration refused to testify before a House committee, which he deemed unprecedented and said that if the Obama administration had done the same thing in DC it would be a huge controversy.

Click here to see the list.

* A reporter followed up about whether he might issue subpoenas

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, told reporters that Rauner’s office had so severely flouted past practice of gubernatorial transparency that he considered issuing subpoenas to get the administration to appear before committees.

“But we haven’t done it, because we want to be reasonable, and we want to function in moderation,” Madigan said, repeating the talking points that have become his mantra.

“We’re not interested in taking extreme actions.” […]

“We’re going to continue to provide an opportunity to the Rauner administration to participate in our three-part government here in Illinois, which means that they interact with the Legislature. … It’s rather routine in the history of Illinois that gubernatorial administrations participate in legislative hearings,” Madigan said.

Most of the committee hearings were repeats, and they may have all been political traps. Nevertheless, when the Revenue Committee is looking into gubernatorial office spending, that’s still legit, even if it is mainly designed as a gotcha or to make the chairman (a Tier One target) look strong to the folks back home.

Your thoughts?

posted by Rich Miller
Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:16 pm


  1. If I remember correctly, the Governor’s Office appeared at the original hearings. He may have flaunted past practice of appearing for pure dog-and-pony show hearings whose subject matter has already been addressed, but so what. I’d be more concerned about bringing the legislature back every week to do virtually nothing meaningful. They need to all five be meeting - daily if necessary - to work this mess out. God, I miss Judy…

    Comment by Anon Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:22 pm

  2. Madigans request for reasonable action is totally necessary in this extreme circumstance.

    Comment by Anonymous Redux Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:23 pm

  3. Madigan could moderate his extreme weekly sessions that truly are nothing more than gotcha dog and pony shows.
    The Gov and the four tops need to get in a room. Either fix this thing or only one person better exit that room.

    Comment by Anon2U Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:26 pm

  4. It would be better to show up, decry the waste of time, and give a bunch of non answers. Why give the Speaker a free hit?

    Comment by Pot calling kettle Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:27 pm

  5. Interesting that the examples were all in overtime session. The Administration must have cooperated all throughout the spring session.

    Comment by Miami Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:28 pm

  6. Several are repeats of the same issue. These seem like small potatoes to generate subpoena talk. Why take a public beating over these issues. ” Where’s the beef?”

    Comment by The Colossus of Roads Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:31 pm

  7. Legislative hearings are often dog and pony shows. Who cares. You still have to appear when called. I haven’t figured out whether it’s arrogance, stupidity or both that’s keeping them away. Either way, it needs to stop.

    Comment by Chicago Cynic Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:35 pm

  8. “We’re not interested in taking extreme actions.” […]

    Unlike Barrickman, Sandack and all the other audit commission geniuses who tossed subpeonas around like paper airplanes during the NRI hearings.

    Comment by Politix Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:35 pm

  9. ==The chair of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (or a designee) was invited to discuss the commission’s Fiscal Year 2014 report. No one invited attended.==

    Not a good play on the Governor’s part since Worker’s Comp is one of his turnaround agenda items. They should of at least sent somebody in the chair’s place if she was “too busy” to go herself.

    Comment by Joe M Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:37 pm

  10. If they wanted to work on Worker’s Comp reform they should have at least showed for that one.

    Comment by burbanite Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:39 pm

  11. This is absolutely ridiculous…These hearings were in the overtime session. I don’t care about the games everyone in Springfield cares to play, all I care for is a passed budget. Stop the political theatrics already!

    Comment by uh... Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:43 pm

  12. Legislatures have broad powers of inquiry, but executive officials don’t have to accept an invitation to appear. This discretion is a feature, not a bug; otherwise, a hostile legislature could hamstring an administration with little effort. Of course, if an executive rebuffs all requests out of hand, or select requests that have a more legitimate legislative purpose, that’s what the subpoena power is for. It’s a tool; nothing extreme about it (although it can and has been used in extreme ways).

    Madigan’s refusal to use it tells me these hearings just weren’t all that important as exercises in legislative oversight.

    Comment by Harold's Left-wing Dinner Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:45 pm

  13. Maybe this is why the Worker’s Comp Chair didn’t want to come to discuss her annual report. The report doesn’t paint the spin that the Governor is spinning.

    Comment by Joe M Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:48 pm

  14. Better p.r. to show up then look like you’re ducking or sending a goof like Goldberg.

    Case in point: What was the harm in the education “secretary” showing up? What was the benefit of Goldberg’s tantrum?

    Leave the subpoenas to the GOP big brains on the audit commission. They just tore the paint off the walls with their mad investigatin’ skills.

    Comment by Wordslinger Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:52 pm

  15. Joe M - I think she didn’t show up because the deal is Louis does the shilling, she just counts the $125k a year.

    Comment by Anonymous Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:55 pm

  16. “We’re going to continue to provide an opportunity to the Rauner administration to participate in our three-part government here in Illinois, which means that they interact with the Legislature,”

    I think this is what Rauner doesn’t understand and why he refuses to participate. The former CEO doesn’t like the sharing of power. I believe it bothers him a lot that the courts can tell him what he can or can’t do. At the same time, he angrily sounds off against legislators for refusing to cede to his demands.

    That’s what governing is, working hand in hand with the other branches of government.

    Comment by Wensicia Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:59 pm

  17. As for that “chairman” mentioned…
    Rep. Bradley has no spine, he really is one of the best pawns for the Speaker. He is usually really quiet (muzzled) until he has to put on a show in one of his “speeches”. He also is the vessel for the weekly “sham” property tax bill that wastes time on the house floor and is never put on third reading. It will be a good day for the people of Southern Illinois when he is out of office.

    Comment by Crescans Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 2:59 pm

  18. It is unheard of for an executive agency to refuse to appear before a committee.

    It is also a sign of extraordinary weakness when the Governor should be trying to project an image of strength.

    Brown obviously senses this, thus the messaging about the u-turns.

    Flip flops on education bill, employee salaries, pension legislation, it is all starting to add up.

    Combine it with even more bad poll numbers this week, and it is starting to look like a wee bit of panic over there.

    Comment by Juvenal Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:00 pm

  19. Should have shown up; looks like Rauner and his puppets are dodging the issues…

    Comment by downstate commissioner Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:04 pm

  20. If you don’t play the Speaker’s silly games, you’re acting in the extreme. Just authorize him to use everyone like pawns and waste everyone’s time for his own political benefit- Sorry, don’t think so.

    Start issuing subpoenas for your imbecilic hearings sir. Maybe you’re not doing so because you too know how foolish these are and you don’t want to get called out on it in the media and elsewhere.

    The Speaker is not his normal self for the last several weeks. Some neurons are backfiring here.

    Comment by A guy Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:05 pm

  21. - A Guy -

    Are you Goldberg? lol

    Comment by Oswego Willy Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:07 pm

  22. Love the stuff about 3 part government. He doesn’t even believe in a 2 part General Assembly.

    Comment by A guy Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:08 pm

  23. A Guy, workers comp is one of Rauner’s top priorities, but a hearing held by a bipartisan committee is imbecilic?

    Brilliant logic.

    Comment by Anonymous Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:08 pm

  24. To the Post,

    You don’t want to show, fine, you own that.

    You show, you exacerbate the circus, you own that too.

    Heaven forbid you have those like Nuding and Purvis show up and be professional and handle committee questions ably.

    The LLs and Press Shop… It seems to always go back there, doesn’t it?

    Comment by Oswego Willy Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:12 pm

  25. Pick a name if you want to engage Anonymous. Otherwise continue being yourself; nobody.

    Comment by A guy Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:18 pm

  26. These committee meetings are not silly, but they become silly when the administration does nothing, or sends a back-talking comedian who then twitters and tweets insults.

    The administration makes these meetings silly with their antics, pratfalls and pie fights.

    Try sending an adult to one of these “silly” meetings and discover that they don’t have to be silly at all.

    Comment by VanillaMan Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:18 pm

  27. == and it is starting to look like a wee bit of panic over there.==

    Comment by anonlurker Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:20 pm

  28. Rich- now you are just feeding my theory lol

    Willy- showing up exacerbates the circus. None of these are meant to move the ball forward, only to deflect attention from the fact that nothing the Speaker is doing is helping the state.

    Comment by O.W.L. Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:22 pm

  29. These hearings are games just like 7th vote of the property tax freeze that the house did yesterday. The Gov should send a representative though out of respect for the Committee and it should be a low level staffer to “answer” the questions or at a minimum say we will get back to you.

    Comment by CB Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:23 pm

  30. 1) the Speaker is right that the executive branch should be engaging the legislature.

    2) Democratic members in both chambers have been slow to recognize that they are dealing with a more adversarial and combative executive branch than they are used to dealing with. There is a lot of room for improvement with how the Democrats have responded to this new dynamic.

    Comment by The Captain Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:25 pm

  31. - O.W.L. -

    Nope. Purvis and Nuding handled themselves professionally and that was that.

    You’d be surprised how much a prepared witness takes the wind out of the sails of a “gotcha” committee meeting.

    Comment by Oswego Willy Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:25 pm

  32. A guy - If you’re going to lambast secret meetings and argue for transparency don’t you think that it’s a wee bit hypocritical if you refuse to send people to committee meetings?

    Comment by pundent Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:29 pm

  33. =You’d be surprised how much a prepared witness takes the wind out of the sails of a “gotcha” committee meeting. =

    Absolutely, it’s one thing to criticize a meeting that you refuse to attend as a “sham”. It’s quite another to show up and actually prove it.

    Comment by pundent Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:35 pm

  34. And wait — Barickman’s NRI thing *wasn’t* like this at all?

    Comment by Macbeth Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:38 pm

  35. ==I say Madigan should start subpoenaing Rauner officials if they continue this trend.===

    We agree. For far different reasons, but we agree.

    Comment by A guy Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:50 pm

  36. Please be fair. Teambungle full of superstars and very busy. Right busy explainin’ to Zell what hapoened to his $2 million on very bad TV ads

    Comment by Anonin' Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 3:58 pm

  37. Just tossing this thought out there. If it was a GOP GA and a Democratic governor and this was happening how many commentators would be up in arms about not showing up? It doesn’t matter the motivations behind the hearings, when Rauner says he’s going to shake up Springfield and he plays the same old games he should be called out on it.

    Comment by MyTwoCents Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 4:01 pm

  38. @2:22 p.m.: “He may have flaunted past practice…”


    Comment by Nick Name Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 4:10 pm

  39. === We agree. For far different reasons, but we agree. ===

    And you would be wrong if you think that would make Madigan look bad.

    Remember, Mike does everything in moderation. ;)

    Comment by Norseman Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 4:10 pm

  40. Madigan is correct not to subpoena.

    If the governor wants to hide, let him hide.

    It just because another Steve Brown bullet point: Rauner’s made a u-turn on transparency.

    Comment by Juvenal Friday, Jul 10, 15 @ 4:14 pm

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