A former state Senate staff attorney turned lobbyist is being paid $10,000 a month to work on state pension reform.

Eric Madiar is Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s former chief legal counsel. Madiar is now under contract to deal with pension reform.

Cullerton Spokesman John Patterson said Madiar is “just researching the pension clause and really becoming the state's leading authority on that.”

Patterson also said Madiar has been combing over recent rulings from the state Supreme Court and “analyzing those opinions, interpreting what they mean, understanding how we can learn from what the court has ruled and incorporate it into a model that we think is constitutional moving forward.”

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Patterson said Madiar’s work on pension reform could be part of a compromise package and save taxpayers billions of dollars.

“I think the Senate president has left the door open for that, if you’re putting together what’s been referred to as a grand bargain, that this could be part of that,” Patterson said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has for months asked for Cullerton to put his pension reform plan up for a vote. Both Cullerton and Rauner have said the plan could save taxpayers $1 billion a year.

Madiar also lobbies for a variety of industries such as telecommunications, energy and gaming. Patterson said there’s no reason for concerns over possible conflicts of interest.

“Mr. Madiar is the former ethics officer for the Senate and was the parliamentarian during the Blagojevich impeachment trial, so I think it’s pretty clear that he has always operated with the highest ethical standards,” Patterson said.

Madiar’s $10,000-a-month contract is up for renewal at the end of June. It’s possible he could stick around.  

“Now that he’s left staff, it would seem to be foolish to not consult that knowledge base,” Patterson said.