Madigan suggested Michael T. Del Galdo, describing him as an experienced lawyer and an expert on municipal finance who could help Justice in its ambitious development plans.
"I am very happy the speaker has taken such an interest in our small village," Mayor Krzysztof "Kris" Wasowicz said in a recent interview. "He calls me every four to six weeks, and always a first question is about the tollway project."
Now the growing promise of tollway ramps is spurring new interest in the blue-collar town from some major developers — including two longtime clients of Madigan's private legal practice.
And Del Galdo's law firm, which got the job after Madigan's recommendation, is poised to advise the village on everything from shaping incentive packages for developers to deciding which law firms get contracts to help finance the projects.
It is not the first such confluence of public and private interests for Madigan, whose high-profile role as Springfield's premier power politician typically overshadows the quiet clout he wields at the smallest of village halls.
As speaker, he is the last stop in the suburban clamor for state resources. As the state's top Democrat, he cultivates a network of loyal public officials. And as a name partner in Madigan & Getzendanner, Chicago's pre-eminent real estate tax law firm, he earns a living representing the biggest players in local commercial development.
Madigan maintains there is no connection or conflict in his many roles.
Del Galdo, whose firm took over as village legal counsel in October 2009, said he's had no contact with Madigan about Justice and has had no dealings with developers who are Madigan clients.
"I understand how it might look," said Del Galdo, 37. "But when you have been involved in government as long as I have, and I presume as long as Madigan has, you develop all kinds of relationships that periodically overlap. I know you are trying to connect all the dots, but I can assure you all this is purely a coincidence."
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the speaker called the mayor "because Mr. Del Galdo asked him to make the call." Brown declined to say how Madigan knows Del Galdo.
He emphasized that Madigan's personal code of conduct precludes the speaker from having any involvement in development in the village, "so, no, that did not happen."
The Tribune earlier this year detailed how Madigan recommended a new village attorney for Oak Lawn, where law firms with connections to the speaker stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in bond fees from a water-main project he backed in Springfield.
In Justice, the development plans could be years away.
But even as the development effort gains steam, FBI agents have come to town asking questions about how Del Galdo's law firm won the village contract.
Del Galdo said he has enjoyed a steady rise as an attorney for suburban governments, and he acknowledged some of them, such as Cicero and Melrose Park, have come under scrutiny by federal corruption investigators. Neither he nor his firm has been accused of any wrongdoing.
He called the federal inquiry in Justice "completely absurd" and suggested it was "sour grapes" from political infighting at Village Hall.
Former Justice Trustee Mike Murray said he approached the FBI about Del Galdo after resigning from the Village Board in a residency dispute earlier this year. Murray said he told agents about Del Galdo making campaign contributions to village officials and about the call from Madigan to the mayor.