CHICAGO — Powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is accused of putting “sham” candidates on the 2016 ballot to increase his chances of winning.
Madigan won the race with 65 percent of the vote. Challenger Jason Gonzales took home 27 percent. Two others candidates had 8 percent combined.
Gonzales filed a civil suit claiming Madigan recruited phony candidates with Latino-sounding last named to confuse voters and take away votes from Gonzales. The gambit increased Madigan’s chances of winning, the suit alleged.
Gonzales also claims the two other candidates in the race never had any intention of actually running.
The Chicago Tribune obtained a copy of Madigan’s deposition in the case. According to the newspaper, Madigan was asked directly whether he tried to load the ballot with candidates.
“I don’t remember that.”
Gonzales’ attorney asked: Is it possible you did?
The lawyer then asked: Are you certain you didn’t?
“I don’t remember.”
Over the course of a five-hour testimony, Madigan said “I don’t recall,” “I don’t know” or “I have no memory” more than 100 times.
As for the two candidates in question, neither filed financial reports with the state to indicate they raised — or spent — money, according to the Tribune. The money would’ve indicated the candidates had active campaigns.
Court depositions show that Madigan political workers collected signatures to get one of the candidates on the ballot, the Tribune is reporting.
A Madigan lieutenant testified that he drove the nominating paperwork for both candidates in question to Springfield.
Both candidates were deposed. One said no one connected to Madigan urged him to run. The other said she didn’t remember.
During his own deposition, Madigan acknowledged that his odds of winning improved when there were more candidates in the contest.
When questioned by his attorney, Madigan said he did not direct anyone who works for him or is associated with him to recruit candidates to run against him.