While former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan faces federal corruption charges, he remains a Democratic committee member, and those with ties to the former president have helped several candidates stand for election in the petition process, including candidate for Secretary of State Anna Valencia.
Politicians say it has been much harder to get the required signatures this year because the process was moved to January rather than September, with weather causing some problems.
Another issue is voter anger over Illinois’ political landscape, and Democratic strategists say those issues have made experienced signatures even more valuable this time around.
For Valencia, his campaign garnered far more signatures than needed, with nearly 20,000 secured. Only 6,500 signatures were needed to appear on the ballot in the race to replace outgoing Secretary of State Jesse White, who will retire at the end of his term.
Strategists say the Valencia campaign has received help circulating petitions from groups linked to Madigan’s organisation. It also included the help of Mike Kasper, Valencia’s campaign lawyer, who is one of Madigan’s closest aides.
Aldus. David Moore, one of Valencia’s opponents, has criticized his campaign for affiliations with Madigan’s organization.
“The elements of what he controlled, the people he controlled, are still there, so they have an interest in keeping what’s going on in that secretary of state seat,” he said.
With Madigan’s federal charges looming, ethics become the burning issue in the race to replace White. Alexi Giannoulias responded to the former president’s indictment by noting that one of the secretary of state’s duties is to oversee the registration of lobbyists.
“My plan calls for tighter restrictions and more transparency in the financial interests of lobbyists and elected officials,” he said.
Valencia did not react publicly to Madigan’s indictment, instead referring to criticism of Giannoulias’ links to mismanaged loans at his family’s bank a decade ago.
She has also been criticized for not disclosing her husband’s work as a lobbyist for Monterrey Security in her financial disclosure forms for several years.
“A while ago he was not registered as a lobbyist for Monterrey’s safety,” she said at a recent campaign event. “We have always followed the rules established by the ethics board and the state council, and we go beyond them.”
NBC 5 learned that in her 2020 and 2021 declarations of economic interests, she did not disclose her husband’s lobbying work and did not report his income.
“If it was missed, and she’s a brilliant young woman, then it shouldn’t have been missed, (and) that means it was done on purpose,” Ald. said Moore.
The Valencia campaign did not respond to requests for comment on the disclosure form situation.