Gov. Pat Quinn had the biggest and most expensive media team. His eight staffers make $475,242. Secretary of State Jesse White had the second biggest press team. His office of six staffers makes a total of $423,864. The highest paid staffer was in Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office. Her communications director makes more than $120,000 each year. The total cost of Topinka's three member staff was $239,850.
Topinka's counterpart, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, employs a two member team to respond to media inquiries. They make $174,000. An additional media staffer works strictly in the unclaimed property division and is paid from the earnings of that department.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan employs four people in her communications department. They make a total of $240,518. And Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon has the least expensive staff. Her two communication employees make a total of $110,084.
The Better Government Association of Chicago reviewed the salary data obtained by WCIA-3. It found that the salaries weren't necessarily out of line and that there weren't too many staffers.
"The key here is that all of these people are serving the public and not the public official," said Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the Better Government Association. "(we need to make sure) that they're doing our business and not the public officials business."
None of the spokesmen could talk to WCIA-3 on camera, but they were quick to point out that they provide a public service. Attorney General Lisa Madigan's staff, for instance, helped design an informational web page giving consumers information on a foreclosure settlement.
Topinka's staffers spend time responding to constituent mail and overseeing publications to give citizens a better idea of the state's financial situation. White's office is the biggest of its kind in the nation. His communication team plays a role in informing the public about new laws and safety measures.
Shaw said it's refreshing to see that state leaders are keeping their costs down. And he says it might mean that they're starting to get the message.
"There's nothing wrong with telling a good news story," he said. "There aren't too many of them being paid too much. That says that the watch-dogging is paying off, though we have a lot more to do."