Ben Szalinski

Bio

Ben is The Daily Line's legislative reporter covering Illinois state government. He came to The Daily Line in January 2022 from Shaw Media where he covered local government in McHenry County for the Northwest Herald. Ben is a graduate of the Public Affair
MAR 03, 2022
Then-House Speaker Mike Madigan during a floor session in 2020. [Justin Fowler/pool/SJ-R]

Former House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) was indicted Wednesday on 22 counts of bribery, racketeering and wire fraud in the culmination of a multi-year federal corruption probe that has already ensnared multiple people in his inner circle.

The 106-page indictment handed down by U.S. Attorney John Lausch described details of an intricate "enterprise" through which Madigan used his powers as speaker and 13th Ward Democratic committeeperson to dole out personal favors to allies.

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Indictment details 'Madigan enterprise' devoted to paying off former speaker and his allies

Then-House Speaker Mike Madigan during a floor session in 2020. [Justin Fowler/pool/SJ-R] Former ...
JUN 24, 2022
Gov. JB Pritzker speaks at a news conference in Chicago Friday. [Blue Room Stream] 

Gov. JB Pritzker will call the General Assembly into a special session in the “coming weeks” to tackle reproductive legislation and shore up abortion protections in Illinois after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday, he announced.  

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Pritzker teases special session on abortion rights as Illinois politicians react to Roe ruling

Gov. JB Pritzker speaks at a news conference in Chicago Friday. [Blue Room Stream]    Gov. JB P...
JUN 24, 2022
Secretary of State Jesse White, middle, speaks about his support for Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia’s nomination for secretary of state at an event in Waukegan Thursday. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line] 

Secretary of State Jesse White turned 88 Thursday and spent his day voting early in Chicago with Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia and calling on voters to choose her as the next Democratic nominee for secretary of state.

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Valencia hoping White’s endorsement will propel her to Democratic nomination to succeed the long-time secretary of state

Secretary of State Jesse White, middle, speaks about his support for Chicago City Clerk Anna Vale...
JUN 24, 2022
Sen. Dick Durbin, second from left, speaks during a presentation in front of the Democratic National Committee Thursday alongside from left to right, Ron Holmes, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, Comptroller Susana Mendoza, Abby Witt and Jake Lewis. [DNC/YouTube

The Democratic Party of Illinois made a formal pitch to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Thursday to hold one of 2024’s first Democratic presidential primaries by highlighting the state’s diversity and significant position in the Midwest.

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Illinois Democrats pitch state’s diversity to national committee in bid to host one of 2024’s first primaries

Sen. Dick Durbin, second from left, speaks during a presentation in front of the Democratic Natio...
JUN 23, 2022
A mailer by the Democratic Party of Illinois describes Republican attorney general candidate Tom Devore. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line]

Democratic organizations have weighed into the Republican gubernatorial primary through TV commercials and direct mailers targeting Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin and highlighting Sen. Darren Bailey’s (R-Xenia) conservative credentials. Now the Democratic Party of Illinois is extending the tactic to weigh into the Republican attorney general primary.

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Kim upset with Democratic Party mailer used “to mislead voters” in race against downstate attorney DeVore 

A mailer by the Democratic Party of Illinois describes Republican attorney general candidate Tom ...
JUN 23, 2022
Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, and Norma Hernandez of Melrose Park are competing in the Democratic primary in the 77th House District. [House Democrats and Norma Hernandez/Facebook]

Veteran Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison) made headlines in 2021 when she was one of three Democratic women to publicly announce she was mounting a run for speaker against former House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago). Now Willis is fighting off a challenger to her own legislative career from Triton College Trustee Norma Hernandez of Melrose Park.

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Former Madigan challenger Willis trying to fight off primary challenge from Chuy ally in west suburbs

Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, and Norma Hernandez of Melrose Park are competing in the Democra...
JUN 23, 2022
More than 200,000 Illinoisians have already cast their ballot for the June 28 primary. [Mauricio Pena/Block Club Chicago]

With the June 28 primary less than a week away, more than 210,000 people have already cast their ballots in Illinois, which is less than half the number of people who voted early before the 2018 primary, records show.

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In-person early voting numbers lagging, but mail-in voting remains a popular option

More than 200,000 Illinoisians have already cast their ballot for the June 28 primary. [Mauricio ...
JUN 22, 2022
Gregg Johnson, left, and Thurgood Brooks, right, are competing in the Democratic primary for the 72nd House District. [Campaign websites]  

A pair of East Moline Democrats and a former Rock Island mayoral candidate are vying for the Democratic nomination in the 72nd House District after Rep. Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island) decided to a pursue a seat in the Illinois Senate.

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Open Quad Cities House seat presents opportunity for a fresh face in the Illinois House

Gregg Johnson, left, and Thurgood Brooks, right, are competing in the Democratic primary for the ...
JUN 22, 2022

Former Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) was sentenced Tuesday to one year in prison after he pleaded guilty to multiple corruption charges. House Republicans are calling for a hearing into fraudulent unemployment payments made during the pandemic. Democratic House candidate Michael Rabbitt responds to his father and former Missouri House Speaker Richard Rabbitt’s 1977 corruption conviction. And the Illinois Fuel and Retail Association is making their own signed to comply with the state’s sticker requirement on gas pumps.

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JUN 21, 2022
Former U.S. Attorney for Central Illinois John Milhiser, left, and Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), right, are running in the Republican primary for Secretary of State. [Milhiser and Brady websites] 

Modernizing and improving the public’s interactions with the Secretary of State’s office is the top priority for Republicans John Milhiser and Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) in their bids to replace Jesse White after over two decades of service.

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Milhiser, Brady pushing to modernize secretary of state in campaign between a slate candidate and long-time lawmaker

Former U.S. Attorney for Central Illinois John Milhiser, left, and Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington)...
JUN 20, 2022
Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake), left, and former Rep. Mary Edly-Allen (D-Libertyville), right, are facing off in the Democratic primary for the 31st Senate District. [Sam Yingling/Facebook and Mary Edly-Allen website]

Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) decided to end her Senate career after 10 years in Springfield and is now backing former Rep. Mary Edly-Allen (D-Libertyville) to be her successor in a competitive primary against veteran lawmaker Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake).

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Edly-Allen hoping to revive political career with victory over former colleague in race for a Lake County Senate

Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake), left, and former Rep. Mary Edly-Allen (D-Libertyville), right, a...
JUN 17, 2022
Gov. JB Pritzker speaks during a bill signing ceremony at Rush University Medical Center Thursday. [Ben Szalinski/The Daily Line]

Illinois lawmakers closed a major loophole in state law after Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill that ensures sexual assault victims can file charges against their abuser in cases when the victim drank voluntarily is too drunk to give consent.

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New law ensures sexual assault victims can press charges against assailants if they had been drinking voluntarily

Gov. JB Pritzker speaks during a bill signing ceremony at Rush University Medical Center Thursday...
JUN 17, 2022

Illinois’ film industry notched a record year of revenue in 2021 as the industry continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. And a new study finds most governors have positive approval ratings in their states, but Gov. JB Pritzker’s popularity is among the lowest in the nation.

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News in brief: State reaps record film revenues; Poll finds Pritzker on thinner ice with Illinois voters than most other governors

Illinois’ film industry notched a record year of revenue in 2021 as the industry continues to reb...
JUN 16, 2022
Kent Gray of Leland Grove, left, and Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield), right, are running in the Republican primary in the 95th House District. [Kent Gray/Facebook and Blue Room Stream] 

Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) is facing his first challenge from a member of a major party since he was appointed to his House seat in 2015. Butler will face off against former President Donald Trump’s Illinois campaign manager Kent Gray in an almost entirely new district in the June 28 primary. 

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Butler faces primary challenge from Trump campaign alum displeased with gas tax vote

Kent Gray of Leland Grove, left, and Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield), right, are running in the R...
JUN 16, 2022

Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill Wednesday requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of glucose monitors. A new poll shows a tight race between two candidates for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race while nearly half of voters remain undecided. And Pritzker insisted he’s not considering running for president as he heads to East Coast campaign events.

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JUN 15, 2022
Grayslake Trustee Laura Faver Dias, left, and Waukegan Director of Government Operations Tom Maillard, right, are running in the Democratic primary for the 62nd House District. [Campaign websites] 

Rep. Sam Yingling’s (D-Grayslake) decision to run for Senate has opened the door to three local government leaders in Lake County who are hoping to advance their political careers with a nomination from Democratic voters in the 62nd House District.

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Open Lake County House seat presents opportunity for local leaders to step forward 

Grayslake Trustee Laura Faver Dias, left, and Waukegan Director of Government Operations Tom Mail...
JUN 14, 2022
$13 million from outside Illinois has been contributed to the Republican race for governor — mostly to candidates Jesse Sullivan and Gary Rabine

Business friends, supporters and many Florida residents make up $13 million from 86 large contributions delivered to date from people outside Illinois to Republican candidates for governor, according to State Board of Election records.

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Sullivan, Rabine lead out-of-state money race as cash pours into governor’s contest from coast to coast

$13 million from outside Illinois has been contributed to the Republican race for governor — most...
JUN 13, 2022
Gov. JB Pritzker signs the mental health omnibus bill at Family Guidance Centers in Chicago Friday. [Blue Room Stream]

Illinois will have a new tax credit for employers that hire people recovering from substance abuse, reinstate expired licenses for mental health professionals and require insurance companies to cover prostate cancer screening under new laws Gov. JB Pritzker signed Friday.

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JUN 13, 2022

A new poll conducted Monday and Tuesday by the Sun-Times and WBEZ found Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) has a double-digit lead in the Republican primary for governor as Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin reassesses his advertising strategy. And a Better Government Association report found former Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike is under investigation for a potential ethics violation.

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News in brief: Poll shows Bailey new front-runner in GOP gubernatorial primary; former IDPH head Ezike under ethics investigation  

A new poll conducted Monday and Tuesday by the Sun-Times and WBEZ found Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Xen...
JUN 10, 2022
Sen. Eric Mattson (D-Joliet), left, and Will County Board Member Rachel Ventura [Provided by Eric Mattson & Ventura website] 

Illinois’ newest lawmaker Sen. Eric Mattson (D-Joliet) is still settling into his new role after being appointed to fill the seat of former Sen. John Connor (D-Lockport) in May. But Mattson is also in the middle of fending off a primary challenge from Will County Board Member Rachel Ventura of Joliet.

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Joliet Democrats wrapped up in tense primary battle for 43rd Senate seat

Sen. Eric Mattson (D-Joliet), left, and Will County Board Member Rachel Ventura [Provided by Eric...
JUN 09, 2022
Gov. JB Pritzker meets with members of the Associated Firefighters of Illinois in Springfield Wednesday. [Pritzker campaign]

One of Gov. JB Pritzker’s initiatives to reduce pension burdens on local governments is progressing well and producing better investments, a state firefighter’s union told the governor Wednesday at a campaign event.

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Pritzker highlights pension consolidation, mental health funding as shows of support for first responders

Gov. JB Pritzker meets with members of the Associated Firefighters of Illinois in Springfield Wed...

Bio

Ben is The Daily Line's legislative reporter covering Illinois state government. He came to The Daily Line in January 2022 from Shaw Media where he covered local government in McHenry County for the Northwest Herald. Ben is a graduate of the Public Affair