Chicago suburbs raided by FBI have ties to Madigan’s son
Four municipalities targeted in a sweeping corruption probe have all contracted with Alliant/Mesirow, where House Speaker Mike Madigan’s son works to secure insurance deals with local governments.
Andrew Madigan didn’t choose his family. But his career path has long intersected with the political world dominated by his dad, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.
Federal raids on a number of Chicago suburban governments highlight another crossing.
Federal agents have been investigating the local governments of McCook, Lyons, Schiller Park and Summit in recent months. Each of those municipalities has contracted with Andrew Madigan’s employer, Alliant/Mesirow, for various kinds of insurance, according to an Oct. 25 report from the Chicago Sun-Times.
A 2012 Chicago Tribune report, “Madigan’s son’s employer rakes in suburbs’ insurance business,” detailed instances where local government leaders with important issues in front of the Illinois House of Representatives also did business with Andrew Madigan or Mesirow.
Andrew joined the company in 2008, according to the Tribune. He began working in business development for Mesirow’s insurance division in 2010, later becoming a senior vice president.
McCook attorney Gary Perlman told the Chicago Sun-Times a search warrant for the village sought information concerning “various contractors that have done work with the village.”
McCook Mayor Jeff Tobolski, who also serves as a Cook County commissioner, invited Andrew Madigan in 2011 to submit a proposal for liability coverage for the village. Mesirow later became McCook’s “exclusive insurance [broker].”
Tobolski told the Tribune that around the same time, Mike Madigan assured him a bill that would restrict mayors from serving on county boards would likely not be moving in Springfield.
Another Alliant/Mesirow client and federal raid target is the village of Lyons.
Lyons Village Manager Tom Sheahan is the brother of former Cook County Sherriff Michael Sheahan, a longtime Madigan ally whose office served as a hub for what a 2014 Tribune report described as the speaker’s “patronage army.”
Tom Sheahan once said of a $30,000-a-year pension enhancement he received as part of a sweatheart deal in Springfield, ““I deserve every penny of it and I deserve a lot f—— more.” The sweetener provision was later struck down in court.
A July 30 subpoena to Schiller Park focused on the village’s $5,000-per-month lobbying contract with former Chicago Ald. Michael Zalewski.
Zalewski served as an alderman for 20 years in the 23rd Ward, which overlaps with Madigan’s 22nd House District on Chicago’s Southwest Side. A separate raid on Zalewski’s home was part of a probe into “efforts to get work for Zalewski” at Commonwealth Edison, as well as “interactions” between Zalewski and Madigan, according to the Better Government Association and WBEZ.
Schiller Park has used Alliant/Mesirow for employee health coverage, among other items, according to the Sun-Times.
Federal authorities visited Summit on the same day as Lyons and McCook. An FBI spokesperson described the McCook and Lyons raids as “authorized law enforcement activity,” which the agency distinguished from “investigative activity” conducted in Summit.
The Sun-Times reported federal authorities questioned Summit Mayor Sergio Rodriguez about red-light camera company SafeSpeed, among other topics.
Summit uses Alliant/Mesirow as an insurance broker.
All of these federal raids were conducted soon after raids on the home and government offices of state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, the former Illinois Senate Transportation Committee chairman.
Sandoval played a leading role in passing Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s massive capital plan this year that was supported in part by doubling the state gas tax. Infrastructure bills are notorious hotbeds of political favoritism, and many of Sandoval’s political donors are “engineering, planning, construction and related companies,” Crain’s Chicago Business noted.
McCook, Lyons and Summit are all within Sandoval’s senate district.
Illinois ethics reform has stalled under Pritzker
Despite the cost and damage Illinois faces from corruption, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has done little to address it.
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ran on an anti-corruption platform and has already pushed several key reforms through the City Council. Pritzker should follow Lightfoot’s lead by backing a number of commonsense corruption reforms in the wake of scandals across the state, including:
- Strengthened revolving door restrictions on state lawmakers.
- Empowering the Illinois legislative inspector general, which is a muzzled watchdog office that must seek approval from state lawmakers before opening a corruption investigation in the Illinois General Assembly.
- Mandating state lawmakers recuse themselves from votes in which they have a conflict of interest.
- Reforming the Illinois House rules, which grant more concentrated power to the House speaker than any other legislative rules in the country.
- Using objective scoring criteria for capital projects, akin to Virginia’s Smart Scale model. Illinois infrastructure dollars are too often directed by clout rather than need.
- Passing a bipartisan constitutional amendment to end politically drawn legislative maps in Illinois.
Illinoisans shouldn’t have to wait on federal raids to curb corruption.