In 2019 when former Speaker Michael Madigan was spending a million dollars to defend himself and his office from charges of sexual harassment, I wrote that he was using his Friends of Michael Madigan PAC to pay for lawyers and a cash settlement to political consultant and victim of the harassment, Alain Hampton.
Even though Madigan was head of the Illinois Democratic Party, his personal PAC was much larger than the Illinois Democratic Party PAC. Union dollars went to fund his personal PAC.
Our unions’ political action committees also give hundreds of thousands of dollars to the political action committee that Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan personally controls.
In the last quarter the CTU PAC gave The Friends of Michael Madigan $8,000.
The Illinois Federation of Teachers’ COPE gave The Friends of Michael Madigan $210,000.
The Illinois Education Association’s IPACE gave The Friends of Michael Madigan $57,000.
Friends of Michael Madigan has a balance of $13,472,855 as of December 31st, 2020.
Now that Madigan has been forced out of his Speaker’s office, what happens to the money?
According to a story by reporter Derrick Blakely at the Center of Illinois Politics over a million dollars of that his to spend as he wishes.
According to Blakely, in the old days, retiring politicians could keep all the money in their personal PACs. The law changed in 1999. They could only keep what they had raised prior to January 1st of that year.
For Madigan that is a million and a half dollars.
The resulting law prohibits retiring legislators from pocketing the money in their personal campaign fund, unless that fund was active prior to 1999. If so, they can take with them the balance in the account as of June 30, 1998.
Few legislators still active were House members in 1998. But Michael J. Madigan, who’s served in the House since 1978, certainly was.
“What Madigan had available in the account in June 1998 was $1,488,892.85,” said (University of Illinois-Springfield Prof. Kent) Redfield. “He could absolutely legally take it for personal use. He’d only have to pay taxes on it and report it as income.”
Quite a retirement sweetener, in addition to Madigan’s hefty pension after a 50-year statehouse career.
As for the rest of the money raised after 1999?
“There’s a lot of ambiguity in terms of what Madigan could or could not do with the $12 million left in case he paid himself the $1.48 million,” said Redfield.
For example, he could keep the Committee and pay himself a million dollars a year in salary.
“I think for all his shortcomings and that for all our disagreements at times, the former Speaker is a loyal Democrat. At the end of the day, he will figure out some way to use those resources to help the Democratic Party,” said (State Representative and Party Whip, Will) Guzzardi.
I’m not so sure.
But in any case, when union teachers like me wrote checks for union PACs to support pro-education candidates, the union PACs were acting like pass-throughs to Michael Madigan.
I’d say we were played.