Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's principal political committee has spent a whopping $1.2 million in legal bills since fall 2017, according to statet campaign finance reports.
The majority of those costs was paid to Chicago law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. The most recent quarterly financial report, filed on July 15, showed Madigan's political committee paid that firm $140,564 for "legal fees."
In total, Friends of Madigan paid $284,260 in legal fees between April 1, 2019, through June 30, 2019.
Madigan, long seen as the most powerful political figure in the state, is embroiled in a federal civil lawsuit brought following the 2016 election in which he was challenged for his House seat by political newcomer Jason Gonzales. The lawsuit alleges that Madigan's political operation recruited two fake candidates and put them on the ballot in order to dilute the Hispanic vote.
A recent court filing by attorneys for Madigan states, "... even if Plaintiff’s allegations were true Defendants’ purported conduct would be protected by the First Amendment."
Madigan easily defeated Gonzales in the race for the statehouse seat in the March 2016 Democratic primary. Five months later, Gonzales filed his lawsuit.
The payments to Hinshaw & Culbertson began in July 2017, according to public records.
As well as being the long-serving speaker of the House, Madigan chairs the Illinois Democratic Party and is the 13th Ward Democratic committeeman.
His political operation is also under scrutiny following the February aldermanic elections when another political neophyte challenged incumbent 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn.
David Krupa, 19, alleged in a separate federal lawsuit that Madigan's political team used intimidation and harassment to try and get him kicked off the ballot. Krupa remained on the ballot and was easily defeated.
A spokesman for Madigan did not respond to request for comment.