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Illinois GOP Slings Mud At Madigan From Glass House

By aaroncynic in News on Jun 19, 2012 8:20PM

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan
In a move painfully predictable on either side of the political spectrum during an election year, the Illinois GOP is trying to make resentment of State House Speaker Michael Madigan a campaign issue come fall. CBS2 reported several top GOP politicians took shots at Madigan at the Illinois Republican Party state convention last weekend. Rep. Joe Walsh said, “He is a king. He is a tyrant. He is corrupt. Say it! Say it! My God, I don’t know why we’re afraid to say that.” Pat Brady, State Republican Chairman called Madigan a “controlling, vindictive, ethically challenged, self-serving leprechaun.” An editorial in the Decatur Herald-Review read that Madigan “has the House in (an) iron fist.”

It’s no secret that Madigan has incredible influence over the House, and his role in many of the state’s budget problems, including the pension problem, are well known. In addition, the State Journal-Register pointed out that Madigan’s connections in his private life could potentially have affects on his politics:

Investigations by the Chicago Tribune found that many of Madigan's clients could benefit from having a powerful ally at the state Capitol. In some cases, he has taken action that would help those clients indirectly.

The Speaker, however, hasn’t been accused of any crimes or formally charged with any kind of corruption, and has recused himself on legislation which could directly benefit his clients. If anything, state Republicans might want to remember the old “glass houses” axiom.

Joe Walsh, for example, sits on the Committee on Homeland Security and two subcommittees involving health care. Some of his donors include Honeywell and Northrop Grumman, companies who both have ties to Homeland Security, and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are among Walsh’s top ten industries contributing to his campaign. The Illinois GOP itself came under some scrutiny earlier this year when Crain’s reported on big donations from a wealthy investor which could have violated new campaign finance laws.

Brady said the GOP criticisms against Madigan weren’t personal when defending a mock Father’s Day letter Illinois Republicans sent to Attorney General Lisa Madigan which read in part:

“Dear Daddy…I mean Mr. Speaker. You got me this cool Attorney General job, and that was after you got me that neat state senate seat…Thanks for having all your union friends be real nice to me, they send me tons of campaign money at Christmas time, they must be rich!"

While Brady said the letter raised “legitimate questions” and that the “truth hurts,” House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie called the letter ridiculous, sexist and “over the top.” Legislative leaders for Republicans and Madigan spokesman Steve Brown both said the mud slinging wouldn’t affect pension negotiations. Brown added “Attacking people’s families seldom does any good.” Brown’s statement is something the GOP might want to remember, as the last time Joe Walsh was criticized over family matters he (figuratively) threatened to punch his detractor in the face.

If anything, the entire fracas is a reminder of politics as usual during election season. The Illinois GOP plans to play the “a vote for any democrat is a vote for Michael Madigan,” which is the same tired old strategy both Republicans and Democrats have used in local and national elections. The issues will continue to fall by the wayside when it’s easier and more sensational to kick up dirt, and voters will be left making the same choices election after election.