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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

SEIU member dues fund Madigan campaign's defense in sexual harassment lawsuit

Their View

By Mailee Smith, Illinois Policy Institute | Dec 16, 2019


Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan has spent nearly $900,000 defending his political machine against federal sexual harassment and retaliation claims, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. On Dec. 3 his $275,000 settlement with the plaintiff, Alaina Hampton, became public. Hampton had accused former Madigan employee Kevin Quinn of bombarding her with unwanted texts seeking a romantic relationship.

But that money doesn’t solely come out of Madigan’s pocket. Instead, he’s paying for the settlement plus $600,000 in legal fees through his election committee, Friends of Michael J. Madigan.

That committee is heavily funded by government unions. In October 2019 alone, government unions and their political action committees funneled over $255,000 to Madigan’s election committee, according to filings with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Nearly $400,000 more in October and November was funneled into other Madigan-controlled committees named in the lawsuit.

Together, SEIU Healthcare’s and SEIU Illinois Council’s political action committees funneled $113,200 to Friends of Michael J. Madigan and an additional $334,600 to other Madigan committees in October.

There’s evidence that some of this money was derived from SEIU member dues. In September 2019 alone, SEIU Illinois Council shifted $350,000 in money marked “dues” into its political action committee, according to records with the Illinois State Board of Elections. That PAC then funneled money to Madigan’s various committees.

Similarly, SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana shifted over $466,000 into its political action committee in September 2019.

SEIU members upset by the union’s spending have recourse: They can opt out of union membership and stop funding the union’s political agenda with their dues.

Workers who opt out of union membership are still guaranteed the benefits provided in the collective bargaining agreement.

That’s because decades ago, Illinois’ government union leaders lobbied for the exclusive right to represent all public employees – both members and nonmembers. And that means nonmembers retain all benefits provided in the collective bargaining agreement, regardless of membership status.

Examples may include the following:

  • Salary and raises
  • Health insurance
  • Pension benefits
  • Vacation days and holidays
  • Overtime pay
  • Seniority
  • Leaves of absence, including sick leave
To learn more or opt out online, visit

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Illinois Policy Institute