Lisa Madigan clear choice for Illinois attorney general

LISA MADIGAN is completing her third term as Illinois attorney general and has compiled a lengthy list of accomplishments. If experience and results are the true measure by which voters judge an officeholder, then Madigan is the clear choice for re-election.

Madigan, a Democrat, worked as a litigator in a Chicago law firm and served in the Illinois Senate before she was elected to her current office in 2002. Her legal training and experiences prepared her to be an effective advocate for consumers, and her time in the Legislature provided her with the political skills necessary to get needed laws passed.

During her 12 years as attorney general, Madigan has championed laws that safeguard access to pharmaceuticals used to manufacture methamphetamine, a drug which continues to be a scourge in West-Central Illinois. She also has helped enact laws that set limits on payday loan companies and rules that mandate DNA testing of all rape kits.

She has filed lawsuits against cellphone companies, mortgage lenders and debt settlement companies -- among others -- that were involved in abusive or fraudulent practices. Recently, her office was instrumental in a $46 million refund settlement for Illinois utility customers.

Madigan in recent years has been addressing complaints about the costs of some for-profit colleges and universities, whose degrees are of questionable value and who contribute mightily to the staggering rise in student debt.

Earlier this year she proposed new legislation to allow nursing home residents and their families to use video and audio recording devices in their rooms to monitor and safeguard patient treatment.

During an earlier term, Madigan argued successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold an Illinois law that allows the use of drug dogs at traffic stops. And she investigated former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office in 2008, but deferred to federal prosecutors who later earned a conviction.

Madigan's office has 740 people on staff, including 375 attorneys. Her annual budget is about $30 million, but last year $992 million in fees, settlements and other revenues came into state coffers as a direct result of the work of the attorney general's office. That return on investment is expected to exceed $1 billion this year.

Challenging Madigan in the general election are Republican Paul Schimpf and Libertarian Ben Koyl.

Schimpf, of Waterloo and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, retired last year from the U.S. Marine Corps after a 24-year career. He was a prosecutor working with the team that conducted Saddam Hussein's trial, and was a staff judge advocate where he advised a two-star general.

Schimpf pledges to fight corruption through the attorney general's office. He said as a political outsider he can bring about changes that would not be possible for government insiders.

Koyl, of Chicago, has been licensed to practice law since 2007 and has handled hundreds of bankruptcy cases. He pledges to fight corruption, adding that fight could be carried out at the local, county and state level.

Neither of the challengers have articulated how they could match -- let alone exceed -- the incumbent's impressive record of success.

Lisa Madigan has been an effective attorney general and is highly recommended to voters.