Michael Madigan Puts His Arms Around His Son

The Chicago Tribune is whining about Michael Madigan again, this time because his 26-year-old son, Andrew, is doing well for himself in insurance as a vice president at Mesirow Financial, cutting deals with suburban mayors who’ve gotten favors from the Speaker.

In the last two years, Mesirow has won new government business tied to Andrew Madigan in more than a half-dozen suburbs, according to public records and Tribune interviews. In at least three towns where Mesirow won business — Chicago Heights, McCook and Bridgeview — the speaker did favors for the mayors around the same time the suburbs hired the firm.

Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez benefited from Madigan's political machine in the closing days of his election. McCook Mayor Jeffrey Tobolski, also a Cook County commissioner, got Madigan's assurance that a legislative effort targeting dual officeholders was going nowhere. And Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek was appointed to an open seat in the state Senate with Madigan's help.

Even in Illinois, which has more governments than any state, there are only so many offices for politicians to bequeath their children. So, traditionally, the youngest and/or the slowest go into insurance. That’s how Mayor Richard J. Daley took care of Billy and Johnny. In fact, it was the source of one of his most famous quotes.

Both young Daley brothers failed their insurance license tests, but the results were altered by state examiners. Both examiners were fired for taking the test on the boys’ behalf, but got better-paying public jobs from Daley loyalists. Johnny joined the Evanston insurance firm of Heil & Heil. Soon after, Heil & Heil received $2.9 million in Chicago insurance premiums.

Daley was criticized for directing insurance business to Johnny’s firm, as well as for the fact that a Cook County Judge had named young attorney Richie as trustee in a class-action suit, allowing him to collect a $150,000 fee. The mayor erupted in a meeting of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee, which he controlled.

“If I can’t help my sons, then they can kiss my ass,” Daley shouted. “I make no apologies to anyone. There are many men in this room whose fathers helped them, and they went on to become fine public officials. If a man can’t put his arms around his sons, then what kind of world are we living in?”

Madigan didn’t tell the Tribune to kiss his ass. He just repeated his line that reporters David Kidwell and John Chase, who lately make their livings by investigating him, are “garbage haulers.”

Mike is the House Speaker. Lisa is the Attorney Generals. That’s all the Madigans the political world has room for right now. In a situation like that, a man has to put his arms around his son. 

 This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $2.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.

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