Judge orders arrest of 2 former Madigan operatives

Judge orders arrest of 2 former Madigan operatives

Two former political workers for longtime Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan failed to attend depositions in a lawsuit alleging Madigan backed “sham candidates” in his 2016 primary election.

A federal judge ordered the arrest of two former political operatives for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan March 25, after they failed to attend court-ordered depositions arising from a lawsuit against Madigan.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly found Joseph Nasella and Michael Kuba in contempt of court, and authorized deputy marshals to “use necessary and reasonable force” in arresting them. The two operatives failed to appear in court to explain why they did not attend the depositions, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The lawsuit was filed by Madigan’s 2016 Democratic primary opponent Jason Gonzales, and alleges the speaker abused his political power by “register[ing] two sham candidates with Hispanic last names to split up the Hispanic vote.”

The two candidates joining Madigan and Gonzales on the primary ballot were Joe Barboza and Grasiela Rodriguez. But unlike typical political campaigns, neither Barboza nor Rodriguez filed financial reports with the state indicating they raised or spent money. Kuba and Nasella circulated petitions for the alleged “sham candidates,” and Gonzales’ lawyers claim they were paid by campaign funds under Madigan’s control, according to the Tribune.

The case of the ‘sham candidates’

Other top political aides for Madigan at the time offered some insight in their depositions arising from the Gonzales lawsuit. The Tribune obtained a copy of Madigan’s deposition along with those of his top political operatives.

“I had asked [Cicero politician] Charlie [Hernandez] to see if Joe [Barboza] would be interested in running as a Democrat,” said former Madigan political lieutenant Kevin Quinn. “I had simply reached out to Charlie to see if Joe had an interest,” he said. “I never heard back from Charlie.”

Quinn was removed from Madigan’s political operation in 2018 after campaign worker Alaina Hampton accused Quinn of sexual harassment.

Another key Madigan political operative, Shaw Decremer, confirmed in his deposition that he transported and submitted the necessary signatures for Rodriguez and Barboza to appear on the ballot.

“Why would you be bringing Grasiela Rodriguez’s petitions who is an opponent of Michael Madigan to file for her?” Peraica asked.

“Because someone asked me to,” Decremer said.

“Who?” Peraica asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t recall,” Decremer said.

Decremer also left Madigan’s operation in 2018 after a state lawmaker accused him of bullying and “abuse of power.”

Gonzales’ original lawsuit, in addition to claims of Madigan filing sham candidates, alleged defamation by the speaker for publicizing Gonzales’ criminal record and claiming it prevented Gonzales from holding office. As a teenager, Gonzales was convicted of felony and misdemeanor charges related to illegally using credit cards at shopping malls. But those records had all been sealed or expunged pursuant to a 2015 pardon from former Gov. Pat Quinn.

Months after the 2016 primary ended, Illinois Policy Action produced a documentary on Madigan that included an interview with Gonzales, news footage covering the primary race and footage of the announcement of Gonzales’ lawsuit. Lawyers for Madigan sought to depose Illinois Policy Institute employees as part of that lawsuit, but a judge denied those requests.

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