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Madigan grilling in election lawsuit two weeks away, but rival wants more time

House Speaker Michael Madigan, left, laughs during the inauguration ceremony for the General Assembly in 2017. File Photo. (Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP); Jason Gonzales, right, speaks to reporters inside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in 2016. File Photo. | Lou Foglia/Sun-Times

House Speaker Michael Madigan, left, laughs during the inauguration ceremony for the General Assembly in 2017. File Photo. (Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP); Jason Gonzales, right, speaks to reporters inside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in 2016. File Photo. | Lou Foglia/Sun-Times

House Speaker Mike Madigan has been scheduled to sit for a deposition in less than two weeks in a federal lawsuit that accuses him of putting up “sham” candidates in legislative races.

But attorneys for the plaintiff suing the speaker, Jason Gonzales, now say they need a deadline extension to conduct more depositions and get additional documents. They’ve requested it be extended to Oct. 31, just six days before Election Day.

Lawyers said in a court filing in U.S. District Court on Friday that they need more time to depose a Cicero Township Democratic committeeman, as well as 11 others who were involved in getting signatures for one of the sham candidates Madigan allegedly recruited to dilute Gonzales’ votes.

The filing also notes that Cicero Town President Larry Dominick was deposed on Aug. 15. And two other people were issued subpoenas based upon Dominick’s deposition.

Cicero Town President Larry Dominick leaves a Cicero election board hearing in 2013. File Photo. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

Cicero Town President Larry Dominick leaves a Cicero election board hearing in 2013. File Photo. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

Madigan’s deposition is scheduled for Sept. 13, and attorneys are still negotiating the terms of his deposition, including whether it will be videotaped and the accessibility of the transcript.

But during a July 5 status hearing, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly told lawyers, “I don’t care whether it ends up being 10 depositions or 10,000. The first named defendant in the case [Madigan] is getting his deposition taken.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner was included in a lengthy list of people Madigan’s lawyers had hoped to depose. But earlier this month, the deposition list was dwindled to just one person: millionaire investor Blair Hull.

Hull made a failed 2004 U.S. Senate bid as a Democrat, and he also created the PAC Illinois United for Change, which helped to fund ads and mailers that either helped to promote Gonzales or criticize Madigan during the 2016 primary. Hull is being deposed because lawyers are trying to show that he had the most participation in funding the Gonzales campaign.

Former U.S. Senate candidate Blair Hull in 2003. File Photo by Scott Stewart/Sun-Times

Former U.S. Senate candidate Blair Hull in 2003. File Photo by Scott Stewart/Sun-Times

Madigan’s lawyers revealed in exhibits that Hull had communicated with Rauner’s executive assistant via email regarding Gonzales’ race against Madigan.

Madigan’s attorneys in June told Kennelly one of the defense strategies is to try to prove that Gonzales was a “closet Republican.” But Gonzales has denied being a “plant of Gov. Rauner.”

Gonzales’ attorneys will plead their case for the extension on Sept. 6. The previous discovery deadline was Sept. 14.

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