IPI: FBI's secret Madigan recordings in affidavit reveal nothing new about speaker's operations
Illinois's powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), earlier today revealed to be a target in the same FBI investigation that led to an extortion indictment against a Chicago alderman, is not accused of anything new, a think tank reported.
"Madigan has long been criticized for his control of a lucrative law firm specializing in Cook County property tax appeals," the Illinois Policy Institute reported earlier today.
Madigan and indicted Chicago Alderman Ed Burke (Ward 14) both run private practices that specialize in the lucrative property tax appeals business, according to the report written by IPI Director of Content and Strategy Austin Berg.
"This confluence of political power and policy choices is not limited to Chicago City Council, where aldermen such as Burke maintain extraordinary power over administrative matters in their respective wards," the IPI report said. "At the state level, Madigan's law practice is just one element of the speaker's undue influence. He is the longest-serving state Democratic Party chairman in Illinois history, and the only state legislative leader in the nation to also serve as a party chairman."
FBI agents listened to Madigan as he tried to generate business for his private firm from the would-be developer of a hotel in Chinatown who was referred to Madigan by 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis, according to news reports that began appearing this morning. The Chicago Sun-Times broke the story about a federal court affidavit that claimed the FBI secretly recorded Madigan speaking with the developer in 2014.
"The affidavit makes clear for the first time that the federal investigation that has snared powerful Chicago Ald. Edward M. Burke extends beyond City Hall and into the Illinois statehouse, examining politicians' longstanding practice of merging personal and political business," The Sun-Times reported.
The same affidavit also claims Solis traded his votes on Chicago City Council "favors" including sex acts, Viagra and campaign contributions, according to today's reports about that affidavit. Solis, who reportedly recorded dozens of conversations with Burke for the FBI, announced in November that he would not run for re-election after about two decades on city council.
Madigan's attempts to get the developer to sign on with his law firm ultimately were unsuccessful, IPI reported.
"Despite these conversations, the hotel did not ultimately sign any agreement with Madigan's firm by the time the FBI agent filed the affidavit in 2016," the IPI report said. "And while the zoning change was approved the hotel was never built."
Madigan is not facing criminal charges and both he and Burke deny any wrongdoing.