DOWNERS GROVE – Dan Cronin's county board administration has signed several contracts with companies connected to high-powered state lawmakers, and that has some saying the dealings are intended to warm the Republican's relationship with statehouse Democrats ahead of a run for a higher office in the future.
Since 2010, when Cronin was elected, the county has hired at least four companies that previously did little-to-no businesses with the county but have ties to powerful Democrats in Springfield, according to a Better Government Association article posted April 17.
In 2011, the county hired Mesirow Financial, a firm that employs Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's son, the article states. Other businesses hired since 2010 include Thompson Coburn LLP, a law firm that has state Senate President John Cullerton as a partner; Burke Burns & Pinelli Ltd., a law firm with state Sen. Don Harmon as a partner; and Mahoney, Silverman & Cross LLC, a law firm with Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross as a partner, according to the article.
Cronin told the BGA that the businesses were hired based on merit, not politics. He also said that two of the four companies were selected through competitive bidding.
"We look at the qualifications – period," he told the BGA. "It’s a merit-based selection."
In the case of the Mesirow hiring, they were not the cheapest company to bid, but were deemed "most qualified" by county staff and the board, according to the BGA story.
The other firm hired through competitive biding was Mahoney, Silverman & Cross LLC, which serves as the general counsel to the DuPage Housing Authority.
The law firms of Thompson Coburn LLP and Burke Burns & Pinelli Ltd. were hired without bids, which is common for professional services contracts, the article states.
To read the BGA report, click here: http://www.bettergov.org/bga_exclusive_cronins_cronies/