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Convicted aide to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan will see his six-figure pension suspended

Timothy Mapes walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after being sentenced on Feb. 12, 2024. Mapes will have his annual pension of $154,409 suspended Friday as a result of his conviction.
Anthony Vazquez
/
Chicago Sun Times
Timothy Mapes walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after being sentenced on Feb. 12, 2024. Mapes will have his annual pension of $154,409 suspended Friday as a result of his conviction.

The onetime top aide to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan will have his six-figure state pension suspended Friday as a result of his conviction and sentencing for lying to a federal grand jury.

The state retirement board that oversees pension benefits for current and retired state workers also is asking Democratic Attorney General Kwame Raoul to recommend whether former Madigan Chief of Staff Timothy Mapes’s pension should be permanently revoked.

Mapes’s annual taxpayer-funded pension currently stands at $154,409, according to records maintained by the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS).

That total puts Mapes in the top one-tenth of 1% of highest-paid pensioners in the system, records show.

SERS’s moves were triggered by the mid-February sentencing of Mapes to two-and-a-half years in prison for lying while under oath to a federal grand jury as part of an effort to thwart the feds’ probe into Madigan, a Democrat.

During Mapes’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge John Kness described Mapes’s loyalty to Madigan and the ex-speaker’s convicted confidant, Michael McClain, as “gravely misguided.”

Illinois’ pension law allows for the revocation of state retirement benefits for lawmakers and other government workers if they are convicted of engaging in criminal wrongdoing arising from their official work.

How Mapes’s case fits within that legal framework is open to legal question, though.

The lying for which he was convicted occurred in 2021, nearly three years after he was forced to leave the state payroll. However, in the crime for which he was convicted, Mapes was being questioned about circumstances surrounding his employment as Madigan’s chief of staff.

Mapes’s defense lawyer, Andrew Porter, declined to comment when contacted by WBEZ about Mapes and his state pension.

And in a brief statement to WBEZ, Raoul’s office acknowledged receipt of the SERS’s request for an opinion on Mapes but declined to signal when it would render any pension recommendation to the state retirement board.

SERS records show that Mapes began drawing his state pension in July 2018, weeks after being fired by Madigan. Mapes’s termination came after an underling accused him of bullying and dismissing multiple complaints she’d brought forth to him involving sexual harassment from lawmakers against her and other women.

A 2019 report authored by former state Executive Inspector General Maggie Hickey also noted “the number of independently verified instances of Mr. Mapes’ derogatory behavior was overwhelming. Mr. Mapes had a reputation for denigrating workers and threatening their jobs.”

A top civic watchdog told WBEZ that Mapes’s conviction for lying to a federal grand jury about his tenure as Madigan’s chief of staff is sufficient reason to strip him of his taxpayer-paid retirement subsidy — regardless of the timing of the lying.

“He attached himself through his perjury in an-after-the fact way, and the message it sends to everybody is you can’t be proximate, you can’t be involved in misconduct that’s going on, and expect to escape consequences yourself,” said Joe Ferguson, president of the Civic Federation, who also was a former federal prosecutor and former Chicago inspector general.

“On the one hand, he’s going to go to jail for a meaningful amount of time,” Ferguson said of Mapes. “But for everybody else looking at this, it’s like, ‘Well, it’s not so long, and he’s keeping his pension, and at the end of the day, he’s fine.’ We can’t have that sort of calculus here. We have to say, ‘Nope, you forfeit your liberty for a period of time, and you forfeit all of your pension for having been part of all of this.’”

SERS records show Mapes has been receiving $12,867 per month in pension benefits. During his more than four-decade career in state government, Mapes contributed $176,962 toward his pension. Since 2018, he vastly recouped that contribution and more by receiving $799,480 in state pension benefits.

Raoul’s office has a record of siding with some ex-legislators convicted of wrongdoing after leaving office.

The attorney general’s office wrote opinions in support of allowing former state Rep. Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago, and state Sen. Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills, to keep their state pensions despite federal felony tax evasion convictions following their stints in the legislature.

The General Assembly Retirement System board wound up siding with Raoul’s legal arguments in both instances.

In another case with possible legal parallels to Mapes’s situation, the GARS board voted against the advice of then-Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office concluded former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert should be allowed to keep his legislative pension.

Former Attorney General Madigan’s argument was that the financial crime to which Hastert admitted and was convicted didn’t relate to his time as a state lawmaker in the 1980s. In 2015, Hastert admitted to efforts to structuring bank withdrawals to avoid disclosure as part of an effort to hide payments he was making to a man he had sexually abused decades ago, when the man was a student.

However, the state GARS board set aside Madigan’s conclusion and voted to terminate Hastert’s legislative pension anyway, a move later upheld by a Sangamon County judge.

In its opinions regarding the Acevedo and Hastert cases, the attorney general’s office cited three tests that courts have used to determine whether criminal conduct related to a public official’s duties.

The first test asks whether the person would have been in position to commit the felony “but for” that person’s status as a public official. The second asks whether the person’s service in public office “was a material element and a substantial factor” in the crime.

The second paragraph of Mapes’s federal indictment notes that he was “chief of staff to Public Official A” — the moniker given to Madigan in court.

The courts’ third test is whether the conviction was “in some way connected” with the person’s employment.

Ferguson said he hopes Raoul’s office doesn’t go the same route as his predecessor, Lisa Madigan, did with Hastert and hold that Mapes’s wrongdoing did not meet the legal threshold for pension revocation.

“As is often the case in Illinois, things were construed to sort of their minimal dimension,” Ferguson said of Lisa Madigan’s Hastert opinion, “and the pension board said, ‘No, actually, we need to bring principle here, and we need the outcome to reflect principle.’

“I think that’s exactly what’s going on here is a question of whether we’re going to approach this technically or on the basis of the vindication of a principle in which what we obviously have is effectively aiding and abetting a public corruption conspiracy after the fact,” Ferguson said.

Dave McKinney covers Illinois government and politics for WBEZ and was the longtime Springfield bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times. Jon Seidel, the Sun-Times’s federal courts reporter, contributed to this report.

Dave McKinney covers Illinois government and politics for WBEZ and was the long-time Springfield bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Jon Seidel covers federal courts for the Chicago Sun-Times.