Illinois House candidate distances himself from gaming exec who lost Waukegan casino bid
Thomas Maillard, running in the June 28 primary for a legislative seat in Lake County, used to work for a video gaming company run by ex-state Sen. Michael Bond.
Most resumes grow over time. State legislative candidate Thomas Maillard’s shrank over the past two years. Gone from his LinkedIn page: his work for ex-state Sen. Michael Bond’s video gaming business.
In 2020 — while a top aide to Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham — Maillard’s page said he’d worked in “partnership development” for Bond’s Tap Room Gaming, LLC, from December 2013 to December 2015.
Now in a Democrat primary race for state representative in Lake County, he’s dropped from the online resume those ties to Bond, a controversial figure after it came to light that he helped finance Cunningham’s winning 2017 campaign before submitting a bid for a casino in Waukegan in a process partly overseen by Cunningham.
“I think it has very little relevance to my experience working in government,” says Maillard, one of three candidates in the June 28 race in a district that includes all or parts of Libertyville, Grayslake and Round Lake.
Among those backing his campaign: Cunningham, who lost a reelection bid last year.
Bond isn’t among those backing him, and Maillard says he “couldn’t care less.”
Reached by phone, Bond told a reporter he wasn’t “in a position” to talk but “happy to call you back.” He didn’t.
Bond was in the Illinois Senate from 2007 to 2011, a point person in Lake County for then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Bond also was among lobbyists with ties to Madigan who got hired to lobby for ComEd, records show.
Bond’s LinkedIn profile says he was chief executive officer and founder of Tap Room, which he headed from 2013 until it was sold in 2019.
The company — which provided video gaming devices for bars, restaurants and other establishments — reported nearly $200 million in net income from gambling machines from 2017 through 2019, state records show.
Maillard says of his work there: “I collected machines. I was a terminal handler. . . . I also helped organize pool and dart leagues with various small businesses” while “working my way through college.”
Maillard also was a “data analyst/intern coordinator” for Bond’s campaign operation from 2008 to 2010 and helped on Cunningham’s 2017 general election campaign at Bond’s behest.
Cunningham had unsuccessfully run for mayor three times when he won the 2017 primary. Bond then got involved in his general election campaign, contributing to political groups that routed cash to Cunningham, ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Sun-Times reported in 2019.
Bond recruited Chicago political consultants Victor Reyes and Mike Noonan to help Cunningham with everything from canvassing to fundraising, sources say.
Maillard says Bond asked him to work on Cunningham’s campaign.
When Cunningham won, he hired Maillard as a top City Hall aide because, Cunningham says, “The guy knew what he was doing, and constituent services were right up his alley.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation in 2019 allowing a huge expansion of gambling, including a casino in Waukegan. The city was allowed to solicit proposals, vet them and make a recommendation to the Illinois Gaming Board.
Maillard became involved in Waukegan’s internal casino process, according to records and interviews.
Among other tasks, he says he was involved in fine-tuning the bid solicitation. He says his involvement was minor, that he eventually recused himself from the process and never was involved in “scoring” bidders that included the North Point Casino proposal led by Bond.
Then-Waukegan city attorney Robert Long says of Maillard and the casino process: “He wasn’t really an influencer. He was a processor.
“Once he recognized there’d be a problem, he bowed out, which was the right thing to do.”
Maillard was interviewed by gaming board investigators but says that was routine and that everyone even loosely connected to the project was interviewed.
The gaming board can’t “opine on Mr. Maillard’s characterization of his interview,” an agency spokesman says.
Waukegan was allowed to forward a single proposal to the gaming board. But Cunningham says his administration submitted four plans to the city council after they’d been vetted by a consultant the city hired. The council sent three to the gaming board, including Bond’s.
A casino development group affiliated with the Potawatomi tribe whose proposal wasn’t among the three chosen sued Waukegan, saying the process was rigged to favor Bond.
Cunningham says, “I’m not going to deny my friendship with Michael Bond, but I will say my integrity would never be compromised by Michael Bond.”
One of the finalists dropped out, leaving only Bond’s North Point and a proposal from Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts.
In December, the gaming board unanimously picked Full House “as the final applicant from the city of Waukegan” and granted “Full House preliminarily suitable licensure.”