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  What really stinks in Illinois
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ContributorImperator 
Last EditedImperator  Jun 09, 2012 09:06am
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CategoryEditorial
MediaNewspaper - Chicago Tribune
News DateSaturday, June 9, 2012 03:05:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionOn the evening of Nov. 6, Democrats who win seats in the Illinois House will begin receiving phone calls. Speaker Michael Madigan will phone each winner on Election Day to ask an important question: "Will you support me for speaker?"

Eagerly, they will. After bankrolling many of their campaigns, Madigan always collects his candy. A voice vote during lawmakers' swearing-in ceremony two months later makes it official. The "ayes" have it. Madigan slides back into the chair.

At the age of 70, the nation's longest-serving statehouse speaker doesn't care much about appearances. He bristled at a Tribune series this week from reporters John Chase, David Kidwell and Ray Long. He called the stories "more garbage" from "garbage haulers who work for a bankrupt company." How mature.

The stories delved into Madigan's layered roles as a law firm partner, House speaker and chairman of the state Democratic Party. Though Madigan insists he avoids conflicts of interest and abides by a pledge to recuse himself, clients of his law firm benefit from his dominance in the legislature. In recent years, bills unfavorable to the banks Madigan represents at his firm got watered down or held in Madigan's Rules Committee, the reporters found. This year, he softened a bill cutting Medicaid rates, which would have harmed his nursing home and pharmacy clients.

He also leverages his power for political revenge, even at taxpayers' expense. For five years, he blocked bond refinancing for McCormick Place. Why? A Crain's investigation found Madigan stonewalled because McCormick Place's CEO had fired one of Madigan's friends. Stalling the refinancing also helped two of Madigan's legal clients. In the meantime, taxpayers, who subsidize McCormick Place, lost out on a bond deal that could have saved them hundreds of millions of dollars.
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