WBEZ: Politics and Murder: Another Embarrassment for Madigan’s Organization BONUS MADIGAN MONDAY EDITION

Mike Madigan’s political organization is once again embroiled in scandal and controversy after it was revealed that top Madigan lieutenants assisted and collaborated with an alleged murderer, months after he committed the crime.

Instead of coming clean about unknowingly associating with a suspected killer, Madigan’s spokespeople denied any involvement with Michael Pelko’s petition challenge that aided a Democratic candidate in a legislative race. But WBEZ’s reporting directly refutes their denials. Key figures in Madigan’s organization, including Tim Mapes and Kevin Quinn, assisted Pelko by reviewing the petitions at the center of his challenge. Longtime Madigan ally Michael Kasper represented Pelko before the State Board of Elections. It is just the latest example of questionable people working in and around Madigan’s operation.

Madigan’s political arm has repeatedly proven that they will do what is required to keep the Machine running and keep Madigan in power, even if it means misrepresenting the truth.

Take a look at WBEZ’s coverage:

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s political organization is again on the defensive — this time over possible links to an accused killer who was involved in a Democratic push to unseat the state’s top House Republican.Politics and murder don’t typically intersect outside of fiction. But those themes came together in a southwest suburban legislative campaign to topple House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, one of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s top allies.

The little-known circumstances surrounding a short-lived, party-backed effort to reorder the Democratic field against Durkin poses a new embarrassment for Madigan’s once-untouchable political operation, which is still reeling from unrelated charges of sexual harassment and bullying. 

A lead character in this story reported exclusively by WBEZ is a former Willow Springs Little League coach and stock trader named Michael Pelko, a married father of two now in Cook County Jail on murder charges.

The brief role Pelko played in this year’s 82nd House District race was blessed by Madigan’s inner circle and, in the end, wound up contributing to the abrupt withdrawal earlier this year of a promising candidate Democrats had hoped to run against Durkin.

…But three top current and former Madigan aides left their political fingerprints either on the challenge to Chlystek’s spot on the ballot or to Elyse Hoffenberg’s candidacy, state records show.

Madigan election lawyer Michael Kasper represented Pelko before the state election board.

State records show ex-House Clerk Timothy Mapes, a former Madigan chief of staff and state party executive director, inspected Chlystek’s nominating petitions five days before Pelko’s complaint was filed. Mapes was ousted from his state and party jobs in June after harassment and bullying allegations were lodged against him by an employee.

And Elyse Hoffenberg’s own nominating petitions were notarized by another ex-staffer in Madigan’s political organization, Kevin Quinn. The brother of Ald. Quinn (13th), Kevin Quinn was jettisoned from the speaker’s political organization in February for his role in a sexual harassment texting scandal. 

Landek, a Madigan confidante and Lyons Township Democratic committeeman, said the order to challenge Chlystek’s nominating petitions came from the state Democratic Party, and the local political organization responded by suggesting Pelko as an objector.

…Dorf said the lack of vetting in the Pelko case leaves a blemish on Madigan and the state Democratic Party, particularly given all of the upheaval that has existed this year as the speaker has been forced to clean house because of sexual harassment and bullying allegations within his inner circle.

“This is a huge embarrassment. This is the drip, drip, drip that’s just wearing away the stone. I can’t believe that if they were paying attention, they’d have allowed something like this to happen,” Dorf said.

Over his lengthy career in state election law, Dorf said this case stands out.

“We’ve had objectors who have been unsavory and people who are total party hacks,” he said. “But I guess I’ve never seen one who became an objector in the middle of a murder investigation.”