Opinion: Madigan Strikes Back at Tribune - NBC Chicago
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Opinion: Madigan Strikes Back at Tribune



    Remember last month’s three-part Chicago Tribune hatchet job on House Speaker Michael Madigan’s alleged conflict of interest?

    Madigan -- a man who carries a grudge -- has not forgotten. His initial response to the series was that it “looks more like garbage from the two garbage haulers who work for a bankrupt company.”

    But it’s apparently gotten under his skin enough that he’s written a 13-page rebuttal -- longer than the original Tribune pieces -- and submitted it to his House colleagues. In the letter, he not only disputes the conclusions of the reporters, John Chase and David Kidwell, he disputes their facts and their methodology.

    In the first article, “Favorable legislation flows to private clients of Speaker Madigan,” Chase and Kidwell accused Madigan of creating a state program that moved Medicaid patients into assisted living facilities -- such as those owned by Pathways Senior Living LLC, which is represented by the speaker’s law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner. The program sent “tens of millions” to Pathways, the Tribune wrote.

    Madigan’s rebuttal:

    [I]f the Tribune had researched this issue at all, they would have discovered that the legislation was the direct result of actions taken by Governor Blagojevich - who has never been mistaken for an ally of mine - and a gubernatorial agency.

    A second article, “Madigan tax clients unscathed in foreclosure debate,” accused Madigan of exempting small banks -- such as those represented by his law firm -- from paying fees to municipalities to maintain foreclosed properties.

    Madigan’s rebuttal:

        Given that I have been a leading voice in combating predatory lending practices of Illinois financial institutions for more than a decade, I am offended by the Tribune's insinuation that I would place personal gain ahead of the families that have been impacted by this crisis and the decimation of communities that has occurred as a result of thousands of boarded-up houses in my neighborhood and throughout the State. I can only assume that the reporters did not contact those who represent the financial industries in Springfield, Had they taken the time to do so, they would have learned that the industry does not view me as an ally. Joyce Nardulli, Vice President of Government Relations for the Illinois Bankers Association, has said that she disagreed with the Tribune’s inferences, mainly because I have been anything but helpful to the banking industry.

    Finally, in “Madigan consolidates power by holding sway in legislative races,” the Tribune wrote that Madigan dispatched state employees to work on political campaigns.

    Madigan’s rebuttal:

    The article published in the Chicago Tribune on June 5, 2012, makes the point that state employees - both Democrat and Republican - will occasionally take a leave of
    absence from their state job to engage in political activities. This is true. To my knowledge, all four caucus permit staff to take a leave of absence. To ensure a clear division between government and political work, the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (“Ethics Act“) prohibits State employees from conducting “prohibited political activities” while on State time. My office does everything within its power to ensure that political work is not performed while on State time. Allowing staff to take a leave of absence is a way to ensure that State funds are not used for political purposes. 

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