Democratic Party

Former Madigan Operative Still Wields Influence in Springfield After Harassment Allegations

A lobbyist supposedly ousted from Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's inner circle over allegations of harassment still maintains a list of more than a dozen clients four months later and has even gained a high-profile contract in the aftermath of the scandal, state records show.

Shaw Decremer, a longtime campaign aide for Madigan, was quietly removed from the powerful Democrat's political organization in February after he was accused of "inappropriate behavior... toward a candidate and staff" during the 2016 election.

Madigan's statement never referenced Decremer by name, but multiple sources confirmed he had been removed from the organization.

While Decremer lost some contracts after the allegations surfaced, most notably ComEd, he recently gained at least one new client: the National Basketball Association.

Decremer worked as a Madigan staffer for years before transitioning to lobbying, while continuing to work on campaigns on a "volunteer" basis. In that capacity, he oversaw campaign workers embedded in various legislative races across the state, and was also widely known as an expert in the petition process.

After repeatedly saying in February that Decremer had "no current assignments" with the party, a statement released by Madigan after NBC 5 first reported his removal acknowledged the speaker was made aware of the allegations, saying he "quickly made sure the individual had no participation in any activities my committees are involved in."

Decremer was the second high-ranking Madigan aide to be dismissed over allegations of harassment and misconduct in a two-week period.

After Decremer's removal, some clients terminated their relationships with him as a lobbyist.

As of March 25, Decremer's previous clients Bolin Brittan Consulting, Chicago Commons Association, Citgo Petroleum Corporation and International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers-Local Union 134 were no longer connected to him in the Illinois secretary of state’s list of registered lobbyists.

Decremer did maintain a total of at least 15 clients, according to the secretary of state's Lobbyist Activities Index. Among those were Draftkings Inc., Fanduel Inc. and Major League Baseball, as well as one new client: the NBA. 

Decremer appeared poised to represent several interests waiting for Illinois lawmakers to act, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states can decide whether to legalize sports betting. llinois lawmakers have held recent hearings on various proposals, but no legislation is immediately pending.

Critics say Decremer’s lengthy list of clients shows that “his access has not been cut off” and “he’s actually been rewarded.”

Decremer, the NBA, DraftKings and FanDuel did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.

Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown said in a statement “the speaker plays practically no role in people hiring lobbyists, that’s not a good practice.”

However, multiple sources said businesses routinely ask Madigan's office for lobbying recommendations in an effort to gain the most advantageous access.

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