A politically connected Chicago lawyer who once testified that he hired a pal of ex-Gov. George Ryan for a do-nothing lobbying job paid for by taxpayers is now working to help get Bill Daley elected mayor, serving as treasurer of Daley’s campaign fund.
In 2005, Roger J. Kiley Jr. was a partner with the Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw law firm, hired to handle Springfield lobbying duties for the government agency known as McPier that oversaw the McCormick Place convention center and Navy Pier tourist destination.
When Ryan was on trial that year on corruption charges, Kiley testified that McPier CEO and former Ryan aide Scott Fawell had pressured him to bring on Ryan friend Art Swanson as a contract lobbyist.
Kiley did so and billed McPier an extra $5,000 a month for Swanson even though Kiley said in court that Swanson wasn’t needed and did little or no work.
At Ryan’s trial, federal prosecutor Patrick Collins called the arrangement “a sham.”
Kiley, 81, who wasn’t charged with any crime, declined to speak with a Chicago Sun-Times reporter.
Daley says Kiley is “a friend, and he offered to help me” with the campaign.
“I’ve always found him to be an honest, hard-working guy,” Daley says, adding that Kiley’s duties include filing the required campaign fundraising paperwork.
Kiley is drawing four government pensions totaling more than $150,000 a year. In part, those cover his time as a Cook County judge and as a high-ranking city official under Daley’s brother, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who appointed Kiley to McPier’s board in 2010, a year before leaving office.
In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel reappointed Kiley, lauding him for “his commitment to Chicago time and again in a number of civic and philanthropic roles.”
Kiley’s ties to the Daley family go back decades. Kiley’s father and namesake once was the 37th Ward alderman and Democratic Party committeeman. The late Mayor Richard J. Daley helped get the elder Kiley appointed by President John F. Kennedy as a federal judge, according to a Sun-Times report in 1996.
The younger Kiley was a ward campaign coordinator for the elder Daley’s 1975 mayoral run, his sixth and last election before his 1976 death.
Kiley also was a lawyer for the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention that launched the political career of Richard M. Daley, for whom Kiley later served as mayoral chief of staff.
Kiley, who was a judge from 1976 to 1989, once shared law offices with Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, who also runs the Illinois Democratic Party.
Like Kiley, Bill Daley also was an attorney for a time with Mayer Brown.
Kiley gave $5,600 to Bill Daley’s campaign earlier this month, records show, part of more than $850,000 in contributions that Kiley’s household has made to political funds since the 1990s, including:
• More than $130,000 to campaign funds affiliated with Madigan and his daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
• About $77,000 to campaign funds affiliated with Ald. Edward Burke (14th).
• About $65,000 to Emanuel’s funds for his mayoral and congressional runs.
• Nearly $40,000 to campaign accounts associated with Daley family members who have run for office.
Peter Cunningham, a spokesman for Bill Daley’s campaign, says some of the candidate’s “old friends” are “involved” in getting Bill Daley elected mayor in the 2019 election. Cunningham also says there are younger people involved from “different communities” who are “excited about the campaign.”
Asked about Kiley’s multiple pensions — given that the city’s and state’s pension obligations for retired government workers are so mountainous they threaten to hobble taxpayers — Bill Daley says pension reform is “an issue that’s got to be addressed,” but “it’s not about one individual.”