Around the time he was trying to get the village of Alsip to hire his clout-heavy insurance company, Andrew Madigan invited the south suburb’s mayor to a campaign fundraiser for his father, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
“Per our discussion, I have attached the invite for the Mayors for the Speaker event,” Andrew Madigan emailed Alsip Mayor John Ryan on Aug. 27, 2018, after more than a year of behind-the-scenes talks about how the village government might hire Alliant/Mesirow Insurance Services, where the younger Madigan is a top executive.
The email, obtained by the Sun-Times through a public records request to Alsip, included a flier advertising the Sept. 25, 2018, event held at the Berwyn law offices of Michael Del Galdo, who represents Cicero and Melrose Park, among other communities.
The fundraiser was sponsored by a slew of suburban mayors, including several targeted by federal authorities in an ongoing corruption investigation, among them Lyons Mayor Chris Getty and McCook Mayor Jeff Tobolski, who’s also a Cook County commissioner.
“Please call me with any questions,” Andrew Madigan wrote. “As always, thank you for your support.”
Ryan wrote him back on Sept. 11, 2018, saying, “Thank you for the invitation I will put a check in the mail today.”
Ryan’s Better Government for Alsip political party forwarded $500 to the Friends of Michael J. Madigan, state campaign-finance records show.
Del Galdo was planning to host another Madigan campaign fundraiser this month. But it’s been postponed due to “scheduling conflicts” until “after the first of the year,” a law firm spokesman said.
Ryan previously has told the Sun-Times that federal agents contacted him on Sept. 26 to ask about SafeSpeed, LLC, which village officials had decided to hire for red-light camera services.
Authorities are trying to determine whether SafeSpeed representatives landed deals in a number of communities through illegal payoffs. The company has denied any wrongdoing, and nobody associated with the business has been charged with a crime. Company investor Omar Maani is believed to be cooperating with federal authorities.
Maani gave $500 to Ryan’s political fund in 2017, just after Ryan won his first term as mayor, records show.
Ryan said he isn’t under investigation, “nor is the village.”
But Ryan declined to say whether agents asked about the village’s ties with Alliant/Mesirow, which arranges insurance for clients including municipalities seeking coverage for employees, vehicles and other assets.
“I’m not going to comment on it,” Ryan said. “My attorney asked me not to.”
The U.S. attorney’s office wouldn’t comment. Neither Andrew Madigan nor his father responded to calls.
Andrew Madigan’s employer solicits business from some suburbs and politicians.
The speaker, who has held that powerful post longer than anyone in Illinois history, has said his son’s business dealings have nothing to do with his role as a state government leader.
His son’s employer has hired the speaker’s law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, which got it millions of dollars in property tax cuts from former Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios.
The Sun-Times has reported that several southwest suburbs that were recently visited by federal agents as part of the corruption probe use Alliant/Mesirow, including McCook, Lyons and Summit, where Mayor Sergio Rodriguez has been questioned by federal agents about SafeSpeed and other topics.
Alsip records show that Ryan, while a village trustee, wanted Alsip to hire Andrew Madigan’s company in 2017. But the village board voted for another firm.
After that, the two stayed in contact about other opportunities. In an email exchange in January, Andrew Madigan sent Ryan a copy of the law that says “professional services” contracts don’t need to be competitively bid.
In the past few months, without seeking bids, the village board hired Alliant/Mesirow as the broker for employee health insurance starting in 2020, according to records and interviews.
Ryan said the company is used by other nearby towns and that he’s heard good things and thought it was time to consider a change.
“If it’s good for them, why wouldn’t it be good for Alsip?” he said.
Ryan said it’s possible Andrew Madigan’s firm will be used when other insurance policies expire next year.
Emails obtained from Alsip also show Ryan talked local politics with Andrew Madigan, writing him Dec. 2 about “a Bears party” hosted by his Alsip political group at a senior citizen complex.
“We filed the nominating petitions for the primary election February 26 with no opposition at that time,” Ryan wrote.
He would not say whether the House speaker’s political organization has helped in any of his elections.