Diary

Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan's Campaign Spending Problems

Michael Madigan(D-Chicago)
Michael Madigan(D-Chicago)

After spending the last few weeks joining with the Edgar County Watchdogs, the Illinois Times(Springfield), Open The Books founder Adam Andrzejewski, and David Giuliani of the Ottawa Times digging into the myriad of campaign spending irregularities contained within new Auditor General Frank Mautino’s state records it is about time that the man who made Mautino Auditor General got some scrutiny as well; that being Speaker of the House and Democrat Party boss Michael Madigan.

Mautino, who in 2011 was made the Democrats deputy majority leader, the number 3 position in the state House, has been dogged by questions relating to his having spent $284,000 for campaign vehicle repairs and gas at Happy’s service station in Spring Valley from 1999-2015, as well as $250,000 in questionable expenditures at Spring Valley City Bank, in addition to nearly $78,000 in meals at Spring Valley restaurants.  These are questions that for weeks Mautino, who spent 25 years in the state legislature, has been avoiding answering as state lawmakers and the state Board of Elections are demanding he answer them, soon.

Mautino was nominated and approved for the Auditor Generals post by Speaker Madigan with nary an objection outside of state Sen. Jim Oberweis and 10 House Republican who voted against his 10 year term appointment as the states top financial watchdog in the Fall.

A review by USofArn.com of Madigan’s campaign spending reports for his Friends of Michael Madigan campaign committee show that he too has some issues regarding questionable campaign spending practices including lavish spending on Chicago professional sports teams tickets, more spending for meals than Mautino, and spending his campaign funds to pay for insurance, and staff for other Democrats running for office or seeking reelection.

From 2011 tell the end of 2015 Speaker Madigan spent an astonishing $456,636.76 for Chicago Cubs tickets. During that same time frame Madigan also spent $263,077.65 for Chicago White Sox tickets and another $202,705.23 for Chicago Bulls tickets.  While Madigan loved spending big bucks on sports teams tickets in the Windy City, he had absolutely no love for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks as they received ZERO from Madigan’s campaign committee for tickets or anything else.

All told Speaker Madigan used his campaign funds to buy $1.2 million worth of tickets, including over $1200 annually for the University of Notre Dame, and “gifts”($287,677.95) from 2011-2015. Those gift expenditures were made to Sawbridge Studios in Winnetka, Illinois Artisans, Walgreens, PNC Bank, Design Ideas in Springfield, and Greenhart shop in Chicago.

As far as meals go Madigan used his campaign funds to buy $86,161.37 worth of food and drinks from 2011-15 frequenting Alexander’s Steakhouse in Springfield, Cafe Moxo in Springfield, Panera Bread, the Sangamo Club in Springfield, Saputo’s Twin Corner in Springfield, the Union League of Chicago, the Arts Club of Chicago, and Palermo’s 95th in Oak Lawn.

Another of Speaker Madigan’s campaign spending habits was to pay “insurance” to the Central Management Service for other Democrat lawmakers making hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in payments each year.  Many of those same Democrat lawmakers also benefited from Madigan’s campaign committee paying its staffers to do work on behalf of those other candidates.

For example in 2012 Christopher Maley was paid thousands of dollars to work on Madigan’s campaign as well as additional payments to work on the campaigns of Democrats like former state Rep. Chuck Jefferson(Rockford), retiring state Rep. Pat Verschoore(Rock Island), Rep. Kelly Cassidy(Chicago), Rep. Edward Acevedo(Chicago), and Rep. Ken Dunkin(Chicago), among others.

That same year Jamie Wisdom also was paid to work for both Madigan and several other Democrats including Sue Scherer, Lilly Camile, Derrick Smith, Stephanie Kifowit, Andre Thapedi, Ken Dunkin, Al Riley, Chuck Jefferson, and Edward Acevedo, among others.

Madigan had these same kind of arrangements with nearly a dozen other campaign staffers.

This is on top of Madigan’s campaign committee paying thousands of dollars at a time to do polling for some of these other Democrat candidates.

During the Summer of 2014, in the midst of the gubernatorial election between Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner Speaker Madigan’s campaign committee paid three temporary staffing companies a combined $47,443,25 presumably to put some of Illinois’ economically deprived into temporary jobs working on his and other campaigns. These expenditures to Innovative Staff Solutions($20,613.73), Manpower($14,830.67), and Kelly Services($11,998.85) were listed as being for “professional services” on Madigan’s campaign disclosure reports. How much do you all want to bet that those temp workers were used to “fill up buses”?

Another irregularity with Madigan’s campaign spending is the $76,372.12 in “rent” paid to the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, which is near Midway Airport. Madigan went from paying the Museum $7,121.13 for rent in 2011 to paying them a whopping $24,047.46 in November of 2015.

A 2015 expenditure at the Beverly County Club golf course in Chicago in November of last year listed as being for an “investment” was actually for “rent” at the Country Club Madigan’s press secretary Steve Brown said. Mr. Brown also said that Team Madigan would look into making a correction with the state Board of Elections for that expenditure, and that correction has since been made with the BOE. Mr. Brown has had no comment about the other campaign spending issues with Madigan as of press time (UPDATE – I received an email from Steve Brown who indicated to me that he was not asked to comment on any other issues, and that any implication that he was asked to comment on them and refused to do so is false. – LHW).

Another item that Madigan will have to explain is why his campaign spent $215.99 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond in April of 2013 for “equipment”.  There wasn’t much office equipment for sale at BB&B the last time I was in one, and Madigan’s campaign knows how to spend money for office equipment as they made expenditures of well in excess of $100,000 for that purpose in 2014.

Democrat Party campaign donors may want to think twice about giving more money to Michael Madigan given how he kind of waste large chucks of it.(I mean seriously if you need Cubs tickets that bad, there have to be better options than going through Madigan.)

And this questionable spending by Madigan only goes to show that Frank Mautino’s irregularities were repeated by other lawmakers.