CTU attempted to bully pension fund into hiring Madigan lobbyists
Madigan already faced similar scandals alleging he asked powerful corporations to hire people at his recommendation.
An explosive statement from Jeffery Blackwell, president of the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund Board of Trustees, revealed a culture of harassment and abuse that included demands to hire lobbyists close to House Speaker Michael Madigan.
“I am also aware of trustees being approached by members of the Chicago Teachers Union who want us as trustees to hire former Madigan staffers who are now contract lobbyists,” Blackwell said. “Let me be clear. We are not in the business as fiduciaries of hiding Madigan lobbyists at the fund under the guise of a [request for proposal].”
Blackwell did not elaborate further on this point. However, he outlined a serious pattern of abusive and unprofessional behavior by other trustees during a board meeting Aug. 20.
“There is a culture of intimidation, intentional misinformation, discrimination, slander, misogyny, fear-mongering, blatant racism, sexism and retaliatory actions from trustees toward staff and vendors.”
Blackwell’s statement was another example of Madigan’s political cronies being pushed for jobs with entities dependent on the speaker’s political favor in Springfield.
Madigan was implicated in a bribery prosecution agreement with Commonwealth Edison that alleges Madigan allies were given $1.3 million in no-work jobs or contracts with the utility. In exchange, ComEd received Madigan’s support on legislation worth $150 million.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, one of Madigan’s associates said, “We had to hire these guys because (Madigan) came to us. It’s just that simple.” He even goes on to say that Madigan named people to become employees at ComEd, but not just for lobbying jobs. The speaker would even give names of those to be hired as meter readers.
Madigan was issued a subpoena asking for all documents and communication regarding ComEd. Subpoenas were also issued searching for records of similar patterns at AT&T, Walgreens and Rush University Medical Center.
The speaker is now under investigation in the Illinois House for behavior unbecoming of a legislator. Lawmakers are exploring Madigan’s role in the ComEd case to investigate whether he abused his power as speaker. Madigan is refusing to testify in the investigation but denied wrongdoing and said his job is to help people – including with job recommendations.
The comments from Blackwell about the CTU’s push to hire Madigan allies raise more questions about whose interests the speaker represents and how much the public can trust Springfield. Madigan is the fifth key supporter of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “fair tax” on the Nov. 3 ballot to face federal corruption investigation, prosecution or conviction. Even Pritzker is under federal investigation for a $331,000 property tax dodge on his Gold Coast mansion.
Trusting state lawmakers with greater power to decide who should be taxed at what rates is a tough sell at any time, but the timing seems especially poor when there seem to be more FBI agents than ComEd lobbyists in Springfield.