In 1988, American economist Robert Klitgaard boiled down corruption into a simple formula:

Corruption equals monopoly, plus discretion, minus accountability.

Klitgaard’s formula came to mind when reading attorney Maggie Hickey’s recent report on House Speaker Mike Madigan’s office and the Illinois House of Representatives. And Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s muddled reaction to it.

Madigan hired Hickey to conduct an investigation into his operation’s workplace culture following the ouster of his longtime second-in-command Tim Mapes last year due to harassment allegations. The report explores specific claims of harassment and bullying through interviews with more than 100 people with ties to Madigan’s office and the General Assembly.

Mapes gets considerable ink. The report details his use of fear, intimidation and even physically threatening behavior to keep staff in line.

“People believed that Mr. Mapes attempted to motivate workers through fear and that a few other supervisors throughout the years emulated this practice,” Hickey wrote.

“Some people also raised the additional concern that, given Mr. Mapes’s political ties, he could make or break their careers outside of the Speaker’s Office as well.”

In this way, the report sketches a silhouette of Madigan’s power over Illinois.

Madigan is the only legislative leader in the nation who also serves as the state party chairman. He has chaired the Democratic Party of Illinois since 1998, longer than anyone else in state history. That means he controls policy and politics, so Mapes straddled both worlds, too. Mapes wasn’t just Madigan’s chief of staff. He was also clerk of the House of Representatives and executive director of the party organization.

Austin Berg is a Chicago-based writer with the Illinois Policy Institute who wrote this column for The Center Square. Austin can be reached at

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