The top aide to powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is a contract employee with outside clients who depend on Madigan and the Legislature for funding, according to a published report.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown's clients include a program for nursing assistants that saw its state funding more than double from 2011 to 2013 and a nonprofit group that helps dropouts, which has received $1.6 million in state grants over the past two years, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Brown's state contract provides a salary of $112,500 this year, plus benefits. Outside clients boost his yearly income to at least $196,000.
The 66-year-old Brown said he doesn't lobby the Democratic speaker or other state lawmakers on behalf of clients, and discloses his clients to Madigan.
"If I feel that somebody has approached me because they thought it would give them some advantage with the General Assembly ... I have turned (those) people down," Brown said.
Brown isn't required to make his clients public because he isn't a state employee. The newspaper found some of his clients in public records and Brown told the newspaper about others, according to the report.
Before Brown started his consulting business, he was a top aide to former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne. He went to work for Madigan in 1984.
A Springfield-based training program for nursing assistants, New Start Inc., pays Brown $10,000 a year. The nonprofit received $366,043 in state funding in the 2011 fiscal year, and grew to $550,698 in 2012 and to $750,000 a year during each of the next two years.
New Start executive director Steve Torricelli said he's never asked Brown to lobby lawmakers.
"We speak for ourselves," Torricelli said. "The biggest role he provides for me is to connect me with people who could help the agency."
The Alternative Schools Network pays Brown $8,000 a year and has received $1.6 million in grants over two years, according to executive director Jack Wuest.
While not all of Brown's clients receive state money, most are affected by decisions made in Springfield. Brown's clients include the Illinois State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Chicago State University, the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County and the Northwest Municipal Conference.
Brown consulted last year for Illinois Agriculture Investments LLC, which tried and failed to get a state medical marijuana grower's license in Marshall County.
"That was about seven hours of work I did for a company that applied — and they lost," Brown said.