By Lukas Mikelionis
Published January 30, 2019
The FBI secretly recorded Illinois' top Democrat in 2014 discussing a hotel development project and that its Chinese developer could become a client of his private law firm, a report says.
Michael Madigan, the House speaker in Illinois who is also the longest-serving speaker of a Statehouse across the whole country, was reportedly recorded after a hotel developer came to his office. Madigan wanted to represent the developer in a bid to save them money on property taxes paid by the hotel.
The recording, made by the developer’s associate who was working for the FBI, indicated that a federal investigation into corruption in Chicago has a wider scope than previously thought. Earlier this month, an influential Chicago alderman, Ed Burke, was charged with attempted extortion.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, which first obtained the affidavit that revealed the secret FBI recording of Madigan, the House speaker allegedly said his firm’s “interest would be that we represent buildings like that on the real estate taxes.”
The report doesn't reveal whether Madigan is facing any charges.
His law partner also told the developers that the company’s fee would be 12.5 percent of any tax saved or a fixed annual fee between $3,000 and $3,500. “We’re not interested in a quick killing here. We’re interested in a long-term relationship,” Madigan allegedly said in the meeting.
The meeting with the developers was also attended by Chicago Alderman Danny Solis, in whose district the hotel would have been built. The Sun-Times previously reported that Solis, who was a chairman of the City Council's zoning committee until his resignation on Tuesday, was cooperating with a federal corruption investigation.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office did not reveal the exact reason Solis resigned, only saying the politician “recognized that he cannot effectively preside over the matters before” the committee.
Heather Wier Vaught, an attorney for Madigan, said the state House speaker didn’t commit any wrongdoing. She noted that neither he nor his law firm is under investigation, according to their information.
The attorney said that even if the conversations were indeed recorded, Madigan wasn’t aware of it and “has no concern if they were,” adding that he “has no recollection of ever suggesting that he would take official action for a private law firm client or potential client.”