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Editorial: Mike Madigan’s pot o’ gold

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

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Updated: July 21, 2012 6:20AM

The thing is, they’ve got a point.

Republicans this summer are going after the most powerful Democrat in Illinois, House Speaker Michael Madigan, like growling pit bulls.

They are calling him a “tyrant.” They are saying he is “ethically challenged,” especially in the way his law firm makes its money. They are mocking the way he set up his daughter, Lisa, in politics, first making her a state senator and then attorney general.

Over the weekend, the state GOP released a mock Father’s Day letter in which they have Lisa writing to her dad, “Thanks for having all your union friends be real nice to me, they send me tons of campaign money at Christmas time, they must be rich!”

State Republican Chairman Pat Brady has even called Madigan a “self-serving leprechaun,” which seems rather rude. Let’s stick to the facts: He’s self-serving.

Now some Democrats are expressing concern, according to an Associated Press story, that all this Republican vitriol could make it more difficult for Madigan and GOP leaders to sit down this summer and negotiate a solution to the state’s public employee pension crisis.

No worry. If the pension talks blow up, which they probably will, it most likely will be because nobody on either side had enough political courage, not because Madigan’s feelings were hurt.

So let the truth flow.

Madigan does run a property tax law firm that enjoys a blue-chip list of clients who arguably benefit from having a powerful ally in Springfield. It’s more smoke than fire, but the smoke is thick.

And it is true, as the GOP says, that Madigan holds Democratic state legislators in a powerful grip by dictating, as head of the state party, who gets millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

And it is true that if Madigan ran a shoe store instead of the state of Illinois, his daughter might be working in the shoe store. In fairness to both of them, Lisa Madigan has proven to be an excellent attorney general.

But leprechaun?

Mike Madigan has, come to think of it, gathered up quite a pot o’ gold.

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