The big news in Chicago political circles has been the arrest of veteran Alderman Ed Burke and the revelation that fellow long-time Alderman Danny Solis recorded conversations with him.
Now, an affidavit has surfaced indicating that Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan also has caught the attention of the FBI.
FBI SECRETLY RECORDED MADIGAN AT HIS LAW OFFICE
Madigan has long been criticized for his control of a lucrative law firm specializing in Cook County property tax appeals.
The federal investigation that led to Chicago Ald. Ed Burke’s indictment extended to the most powerful political player in the state, a new report reveals.
The FBI secretly recorded a business meeting between Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and a hotel developer who had been directed to Madigan’s law firm by Ald. Danny Solis, according to an affidavit obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Solis secretly recorded dozens of conversations with Burke, and is not running for re-election.
An FBI agent explained the reasoning behind the meeting in the affidavit:
“I understand Solis to mean that by hiring Madigan’s private firm, [the developer] would ensure that Solis and Madigan would take official action benefiting [the developer] in their capacity as public officials.”
In May 2014 the developer sought a zoning change to build a hotel in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, within Solis’ ward.
Solis said he would support the project on two conditions, according to the affidavit:
- First, the developer would not build a second hotel on a nearby piece of land.
- And second, the developer would acquire letters of support from key community groups.
After the developer presented letters of support to Solis, the alderman asked the developer and an associate to attend a meeting with Madigan’s LaSalle street law firm, according to the affidavit.
Madigan & Getzendanner is the biggest player in the profitable game of commercial property tax appeals in Cook County.
From 2011 to 2016, the firm appealed property taxes for more than 4,200 parcels totaling more than $8.6 billion in assessed value.
No other firm handled more value in commercial and industrial properties over that time.
In the meeting, Madigan’s partner laid out the firm’s fee: 12.5 percent of all tax savings or a fixed amount of $3,000 to $3,500 annually.
“We’re not interested in a quick killing here,” Madigan said.
“We’re interested in a long-term relationship.”
An associate of the developer called Solis Aug. 21, 2014, to confirm the developer would hire Madigan’s law firm.
Solis wrote a letter of support for the hotel five days later.
Despite these conversations, the hotel did not ultimately sign any agreement with Madigan’s firm by the time the FBI agent filed the affidavit in 2016.
And while the zoning change was approved the hotel was never built.
The speaker is not facing criminal charges and denies any wrongdoing.
Later today, the Illinois House is scheduled to vote on the House rules, which give Madigan more procedural power than any other House speaker in the nation.