Politics & Government

FBI secretly records Mike Madigan trying to get business for his firm, newspaper reports

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State Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, state Sen. Chris Belt, D-Cahokia, and southern Illinois residents discuss what they expect from Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration. Pritzker was sworn in on Monday in Springfield.

House Speaker Mike Madigan was secretly recorded in 2014 during an investigation by the FBI as he tried to get business for his private law firm, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The recording occurred when Chicago Alderman Danny Solis came to Madigan’s law office with a developer who was working to build a hotel in the alderman’s ward. The meeting was recorded by the developer’s associate who was working for the FBI.

The developer was trying to get a letter of support from Solis.

Madigan, a Democrat, and who isn’t facing any criminal charges, wanted to represent the developer when it came to saving money on property taxes paid by the hotel.

“We’re not interested in a quick killing here. We’re interested in a long-term relationship,” Madigan said in the meeting, according to an affidavit obtained by the Sun-Times.

The developer never signed an agreement with Madigan, and even though the zoning approval was granted, the hotel was never built.

In a statement to the Sun-Times, Madigan’s attorney, Heather Wier Vaught said the speaker isn’t worried that he was being recorded.

“The speaker recalls attending several meetings with Ald. Solis over the past five years, including meetings with individuals in need of legal representation,” Wier Vaught said. “If indeed, some of his conversations were being recorded, the speaker did not know that, but he has no concern if they were. The speaker has no recollection of ever suggesting that he would take official action for a private law firm client or potential client. To our knowledge, neither the speaker nor his law firm is under investigation.”

During a news conference in Springfield on Tuesday, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker wouldn’t comment directly on the ongoing FBI investigation.

“I think we need to see that play out,” Pritzker said. “I think it’s very important for people to be held accountable if they’ve done something wrong, so we need to see the investigation play out and then people who are indicted or found to have acted inappropriately or against the law to be held fully accountable for that.”

The Illinois Republican Party released a statement after the report came out on Tuesday.

“Like Ed Burke, developers and wealthy real estate holders don’t consider Speaker Madigan for legal work just because he’s a competent lawyer,” Illinois GOP Spokesman Aaron DeGroot said. “Madigan acquires legal clients because he is one of the most powerful political leaders and lawmakers in the state of Illinois. That’s wrong. The fact remains that it is an incredible conflict of interest for Madigan to simultaneously serve as Speaker of the Illinois House and as a property tax appeals attorney. The people of Illinois will not see real reform of our broken and punitive property tax system until lawmakers ban that practice.”

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