No ‘skullduggery,’ lawyers vow after judge OKs scrutiny of Madigan’s HQ
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Lawyers for a political rival suing Mike Madigan for allegedly placing “sham” candidates on the ballot will be allowed to inspect the powerful speaker’s Southwest Side offices, a federal judge has ruled.
Attorneys for Jason Gonzales in October requested to “inspect, measure” and photograph the speaker and state Democratic Party chairman’s political offices — a demand Madigan’s lawyers called a violation of the First Amendment and “a political fishing expedition.”
But Gonzales’ legal team contends it’s all part of showing that Madigan’s line between politics and official government business is a “mirage.”
“We pretty much know what we’re going to find,” Gonzales’ attorney Stephen Boulton said during a status hearing in October. “People don’t need to be there. We can do it at night. We can do it in the evening. We can even do it after the election.”
And U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly decided to allow the inspection to occur, according to court filings. Gonzales’ attorneys on Tuesday told the Sun-Times it should happen before mid-January.
The goal is to inspect two of the speaker’s Southwest Side offices — the political offices of Friends of Michael J. Madigan and the 13th Ward Democratic Organization offices — to show their “layout,” attorneys said.
“Your honor, one of the things we’re trying to demonstrate is that the articulated differentiation between the political and state functions between the Speaker and his political operations is really a mirage,” Boulton told Kennelly in October.
Boulton told the judge it is “not an exploratory mission.”
Madigan’s attorneys said the search didn’t seem “relevant to any claim that they have,” but Kennelly ruled that the inspection could occur.
“I’m not prepared to say it’s not relevant,” Kennelly told Madigan’s attorneys during a status hearing.
Boulton on Tuesday said he is still figuring out the “protocol” in which the inspection will occur, as Kennelly ruled in October. But Kennelly said it must occur “off hours.”
“Part of it is we believe that over the year’s the speaker’s state and political functions have merged at the point where there’s no real demarcation,” Boulton told the Sun-Times.
Boulton said they have no interest in taking photos of employees, just the office.
“It doesn’t matter to us,” Boulton said. “We’re not going there for skullduggery.”
Gonzales, a 2016 Madigan primary challenger, argues in the suit that Madigan put up two “sham” candidates with Latino names to try to split the Hispanic vote in the March 2016 primary. Madigan beat Gonzales 65.2 percent to 27.1 percent.
One of Madigan’s defense strategies is to try to prove that Gonzales was a “closet Republican” despite Gonzales’ denial of being a “plant of Gov. [Bruce] Rauner.”
Rauner in August told reporters he doesn’t know Gonzales and has “never spoken with him, never had an interaction with him.”
Madigan was deposed in the case on Sept. 13, but the transcript of that deposition has not yet been made available.
Court filings in October detailed Gonzales’ lawyers’ efforts to inspect Madigan’s offices at 6500 S. Pulaski and the 13th Ward Democratic Organization offices at 6014 S. Central Ave. The Pulaski headquarters is on the second floor of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture.
Madigan’s attorneys noted the Pulaski office is also where constituents go to reach out to Madigan, while also serving as an office for Ald. Marty Quinn, and Madigan and Quinn’s personal offices.
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