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Potential Conflicts Arise Between Ill. House Speaker's Two Jobs

This is one of our editors' picks from our ongoing roundup of Investigations Elsewhere.

Michael Madigan has two jobs: Illinois House speaker and lawyer at Madigan & Getzendanner, which specializes in property tax law. Madigan's role at the firm, according to the Chicago Tribune, is to bring in clients. But the intersection of those two careers is teeming with potential conflicts of interest, reports the Tribune today:

The Chicago firm represents banks the state regulates, investment houses that have overseen billions of dollars in public pensions, developers who want roads -- all subject to decisions made by a state House in the firm control of their tax lawyer.

Indeed, some of Madigan's clients have ended up benefiting from the lawmaker’s public actions. For instance, in 2003, Madigan sponsored a $3.5 million state transportation grant to Chicago to repave a private road behind a mall and the Tootsie Roll factory. Both Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. and the mall owner were longtime clients of Madigan at the time of the 2003 grant, reports the Tribune.

Madigan declined to be interviewed for the Tribune article, but said in a written statement that "my personal code of conduct and compliance with a wide range of government ethics provisions have ensured that I have maintained ethical standards." He denied that the Tribune had uncovered any conflicts of interest.

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