Good Monday morning, Illinois. If you’re not talking about the Chicago mayor’s race, then you’re probably focused on Chiefs v. Bengals or Eagles v. ‘Niners.
Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is distancing himself from the high-profile corruption case involving indicted former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and ComEd after his name popped up Friday in court filings.
Garcia is mentioned in a recorded phone conversation between Madigan and an aide charged in federal court for an alleged scheme related to the utility company, according to a Tribune scoop about the case.
Garcia is not accused of wrongdoing, and his team told the Tribune he doesn’t know anything about the case. They say Garcia hasn’t been interviewed by the feds and that any link to the corruption trial is simply a “phony attack” by opponents, according to the Sun-Times.
Pains of public perception. Remember, it was an unrelated corruption case four years ago that upended City Hall and catapulted now Mayor Lori Lightfoot to office.
Weeks before that 2019 contest, Chicago Ald. Ed Burke was named in an attempted extortion case, and mayoral candidates who had any connection to Burke suffered the political consequences.
Will it happen again? Lightfoot’s team hopes so. She’s already poked at Garcia’s connection to Madigan in a TV ad and in debate forums. And over the weekend her campaign emailed supporters, pointing to the Tribune’s “bombshell” report, saying Garcia is “embroiled in the federal ComEd conspiracy case that led to the indictment of Michael Madigan. I ran against machine politics — and won — in 2019. I’ve beaten corrupt insiders before, and I’m ready to do it again.”
A tale as old as time. The story of Garcia’s Madigan connection goes back to 2016. That’s when Garcia endorsed Madigan in the then-speaker’s contested re-election campaign after making a deal with “the big papa of machine bosses.” Garcia has called it a practical relationship that saw Madigan support Garcia’s allies and former staffers in their bids for public office.
In 2018, after accusations of sexual harassment surrounded Madigan’s operation, Garcia continued to stick by his ally. His loyalty was rewarded later that year with a $5,000 donation from the state Democratic Party, which Madigan controlled.
And in 2020, when Madigan faced a leadership challenge after being identified as “Public Official A” in a yearslong federal bribery case, Garcia stayed quiet.
Now here we are. Lightfoot and other challengers, including progressive candidate Brandon Johnson, will use those Madigan connections to paint Garcia as a “machine” politician.
Tides already be turning: A poll released Friday by Fox, shows Paul Vallas, the former Chicago Public Schools CEO, edging out Garcia for front-runner status. FOX’s Mike Flannery has that story.
Garcia’s other challenge. Should he make it into the April 4 run-off election, he would be campaigning in March — the same time the corruption trial will be making headlines.
— RELATED: Chicago’s Latino voters could be key in the mayor race: “Will they back ‘Uncle’ Chuy García or a rival?” ask the Tribune’s Alice Yin, A.D. Quig and Gregory Pratt
Former Congresswoman Cheri Bustos has joined Mercury, the public affairs firm that counts corporations and countries as clients. Bustos, who was a Democratic House leader, will serve as co-chair of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office and will split her time between operations in Chicago, Springfield and D.C.
“I’ve spent decades solving complicated problems and working to build consensus both in and out of government,” the Illinois Democrat said in a statement.
Before working in government, Bustos was VP of comms for UnityPoint Health, the fifth largest nondenominational health system in America. And before that she worked as a journalist.
She says all combined, it’s the kind of experience that allows her to provide “strategy and value” to clients.
If you are Michael Madigan, we’d like to know your take on the mayor’s race.Email [email protected].
No official public events.
At the Little Italy Library on Taylor Street at 9:30 a.m. for Roosevelt Square groundbreaking.
No official public events.
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— Chicago radio’s Lin Brehmer, a longtime WXRT DJ, has died at 68: “The 68-year-old had previously spoken publicly about his treatment for prostate cancer. Sunday morning, fellow WXRT host and friend Terri Hemmert informed listeners of his death,” by Tribune’s Rick Kogan.
— Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, director of Illinois State Museum, passes away: “Catlin-Legutko recently had been appointed by President Joe Biden to the Route 66 Centennial Commission,” by State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie.
— Larry Rogers Sr., injury and medical malpractice attorney, dies at 75, by Sun-Times’ Zack Miller
— William Thomas Hart, 93, a U.S. District Court judge for nearly 40 years, has died.
— Hotelier Bruce White, deep-pocketed backer of Catholic school students, dies at 70, by Crain’s Steven Strahler
Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock served as guest preacher Sunday at Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s South Side. Warnock and Trinity Senior Pastor Otis Moss III have known each other since they were teenagers and attended Morehouse College together.
Warnock gave a shout-out to the high-profile names in the crowd, including fellow Sen. Dick Durbin, Gov. JB Pritzker, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Warnock also gave props to Pritzker and Durbin for correctly “clapping on the two and four” during the musical numbers ahead of his sermon.
— Effingham County judge temporarily blocks assault-style weapons ban: “Judge Joshua Morrison wrote in his 11-page decision announced just before 5 p.m. on Friday that the state did not ‘follow the procedural requirement’ in passing House Bill 5471, also known as the Protect Illinois Communities Act. The order would only apply to the more than 850 defendants in the case.”
Gov. JB Pritzker, who’s named in the lawsuit, said he’s not surprised: “The Protect Illinois Communities Act takes weapons of war and mass destruction off the street while allowing law-abiding gun owners to retain their collections,” he said in a statement after the decision was announced. “I look forward to the next steps in this case and receiving the decision this case merits.” State Journal-Register’s Patrick Keck reports.
— Too naughty to drive: Why Illinois rejected nearly 400 license plate requests in 2022: “The secretary of state’s office bars obscene words, allusions to obscenities in any language and messages targeting politicos. Even backwards curses are a no-no,” by Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin.
— State Rep. La Shawn Ford introduces psychedelic therapy legislation, by WMBD’s Shabnam Danesh
— Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been endorsed by Emily’s List in her bid for reelection.
— JUICE: Paul Vallas has received $100,000 from DRW Holding’s Don Wilson, $25,000 from philanthropist Jennifer Pritzker and $5,000 from bankruptcy attorney Peter Geraci in his bid for mayor.
— O’Hare has become a nighttime refuge for homeless: “While sheltering at the airport isn’t new, said Jessica Dubuar, director of health and specialty services of Haymarket Center, which has conducted outreach operations out of O’Hare to address homelessness in public transportation since 1990, the steadily increasing number of people doing it is,” by Tribune’s Adriana Pérez
— Confidential document reveals key human role in ShotSpotter gunfire detection system: “A report by a widely used gunshot detection firm says human employees are given broad discretion to decide whether a sound is a gunshot, thunder or nothing,” by The Associated Press’ Garance Burke.
— $5.5M grant aims to expand tourism in 12 more underrepresented neighborhoods, by Tribune’s Laura Rodríguez Presa
— New runway plans for Waukegan National Airport starting to take off; ‘This will keep the airport viable for the next 50 years,’ by Lake County News-Sun’s Steve Sadin
— Are backyard chickens the solution for shellshocked egg shoppers? Daily Herald Rick West reports
— Brookfield Zoo offers opportunity to name hissing cockroach after an ex for Valentine’s Day, by Sun-Ties’ Emmanuel Camarillo
— Outcome Health founders head to trial in Chicago over alleged $1 billion fraud scheme, by Tribune’s Lisa Schencker
A BIG CROWD and big names came out for Larry Suffredin’s retirement party from the Cook County Board on Saturday at the Levy Center in Evanston. Suffredin served 20 years as a commissioner under four different county board presidents. He praised current President Toni Preckwinkle for stabilizing county government and referred to John Daley at the “Stealth Daley” for his role on the county board. Former Senate President John Cullerton joked about when he and Suffredin worked together as Cook County public defenders.
Also in the room: Sen. Dick Durbin, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Illinois Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis, former state Sens. Carole Ronen, Jeffrey Schoenberg, Heather Steans, Dan Katowski and Billy Marovitz, Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss, Illinois House Majority Leader Robyn Gabel, state Reps. Stephanie Kifowit and Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, state Sen. Ram Villivalam, Chicago Alds. Debra Siverstein (50th), Maria Hadden (49th), Harry Osterman (48th), Tom Tunney (44th) and Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), MWRD Commissioners Mariyana Spyropoulus and Dan Pogorzelski and State Central Committee member Mike Cabonargi.
Suffredin’s fellow Cook County commissioners were there, too, including Brandon Johnson, Bridget Gainer, Donna Miller, Scott Britton, Kevin Morrison, Frank Aguilar and Josina Morita, who was elected in November to Suffredin’s seat.
We asked where you last volunteered:
Janet Mathis: “The River Bend Food Bank, where I’m board chair. I packed food backpacks for area school children who are food insecure.”
Robert Christie: “Ronald McDonald House in Winfield preparing meals for families of patients at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.”
Ed Epstein: “Illini Media Co., which owns the Daily Illini and WPGU-FM at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”
Kelly Kleiman: “I did voter protection in Milwaukee during the General Election, making sure all mail-in votes were counted.”
Michael Lieber: “The New Trier Caucus, a 72 year-old institution that interviews vets and slates highly qualified candidates for the school board.”
Edward Mazur: “The Chicago Police Foundation to provide funding for lifesaving LEMARK Tourniquet kits to save lives for civilians and law enforcement personnel.”
Gail Purkey: “Nourishing Hope Pantry (formerly Lakeview Pantry) gathering clients’ food orders for pickup.”
John Straus: “The Moran Center for Youth Advocacy legal clinic in Evanston. I’m not an attorney. I just play one on TV.”
What is the single event that put you on your current career path? Email [email protected]
Cheesecake photo: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Chicago on Friday. He talked to immigrant and refugee employees at Eli’s Cheesecake, above, toured the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art and spoke at an event at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. In a one-on-one with NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern, he talked about the war in Ukraine.
— Pete Ricketts will be sworn in as the junior senator of Nebraska today by Vice President Kamala Harris.
— Ken Griffin’s Citadel makes $16B to top Paulson’s ‘greatest trade ever’,: via Bloomberg
— Adam Kinzinger, the CNN political commentator and former Illinois congressman, talked about his place in the Republican Party during a visit to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
— Mike Childress, a member of the DuPage County Board has been appointed vice chairman of the board. Childress is the first Black man elected to the county board in the county’s history.
— What kind of chief of staff will Zients be? Look at his stint as Covid czar, by POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn
— House GOP weighs the ultimate ‘tit for tat’ in conducting investigations, by POLITICO’s Jordain Carney and Kyle Cheney
— Election deniers mostly lost in 2022. Their ideas still have a foothold anyway, by POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro
— When politicians climb down the ladder, by POLITICO’s Madison Fernandez
FRIDAY’s ANSWER: Congratulations to Lawrence Falbe for correctly answering that Dennis Farina was the Chicago police detective who went on to appear in dozens of movies and TV shows.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Who was the inventor known as “The Thomas Edison of Rockford” for having 130 patents? Email [email protected]
Former Congressman Marty Russo, former Cook County Associate Judge Stephanie Miller, Purple Strategies co-founder Alexander Castellanos, political consultant and Calumet City Ald. James “J.R.” Patton and LaTonya Lumpkin, senior adviser on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the state of Illinois.
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