J.B. Pritzker said embattled Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan either needs
to answer questions or quit.
Pritzker’s call for Madigan’s resignation came as more House Democrats pledged
they would not support him for another term as speaker. Madigan was trying to
survive his implication in the ComEd bribery scandal so he could secure his 36th
year in January and oversee the once-a-decade legislative redistricting.
After new charges dropped against members of Madigan’s inner circle, the number
of House Democrats who will not support his leadership has grown to 18. With 73
Democrats in the House, Madigan is now five votes below the 60 votes he would
need to win another term as speaker.
On Nov. 20, state Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado added her name.
On Nov. 19 after four more defendants were charged in the ComEd
bribery scandal, and new allegations emerged against Madigan, state Reps.
Jonathan Carroll, Sam Yingling, Will Guzzardi, Daniel Didech and
representative-elect Margaret Croke added their names to the list of those
wanting Madigan to quit and allow someone else to lead the House.to
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State Reps. Kelly Cassidy, Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, Terra Costa Howard, Maurice
West, Bob Morgan, Anne Stava-Murray, Stephanie Kifowit and Lindsey LaPointe
previously said they would not re-elect Madigan, with Kifowit announcing she
would challenge him for the speakership. State Reps. Deb Conroy, Robyn Gabel,
Anna Moeller and Ann Williams sent Madigan a letter asking for new leadership.
Pritzker came out with his strongest rebuke of Madigan yet.
“If speaker Madigan wants to continue in a position of enormous public trust
with such a serious ethical cloud hanging over his head, then he has to, at the
very least, be willing to stand in front of the press and answer every last
question to their satisfaction,” Pritzker said.
“If the speaker cannot commit to that level of transparency, then the time has
come for him to resign.”
The four defendants were charged with bribery in a case that outlined how hard
they worked at ComEd to satisfy Madigan. Charged were: Michael McClain, a
longtime Madigan confidant and ComEd lobbyist; former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore;
former ComEd lobbyist Jay Hooker; and Jay Doherty, former president of the City
Club of Chicago.
The charges in the case outline how decisions were
made at the very top of the company to satisfy “our Friend,” the
name used to cover that they were really talking about Madigan.
The charges state the four defendants worked “to
corruptly solicit and demand, and to accept and agree to accept from
another person things of value, namely, jobs, contracts, and
monetary payments associated with those jobs and contracts, for the
benefit of Public Official A and his associates, intending that
Public Official A, an agent of the State of Illinois, be influenced
and rewarded in connection with any business, transaction, and
series of transactions involving things of value of $5,000 or more,
namely, legislation affecting ComEd.” Public Official A is
identified as the Illinois House speaker, although Madigan is not
charged and has denied wrongdoing.
Madigan responded by denying he did anything wrong, and again
stating he believes getting people jobs is part of his job. “I
believe a large part of my duty as an elected official is to help
people, and I’ve made that a priority since the day I took the oath
ComEd previously admitted to federal prosecutors it provided more
than $1.3 million in bribes to Madigan cronies to gain his backing
for legislation worth $150 million to the electric utility. Company
leaders agreed to cooperate with investigators and pay a $200
With Madigan on the edge of losing a position he
has held for the better part of four decades, it’s unclear who in
the Democratic Party would replace him as speaker. While Kifowit has
said she is mounting a challenge, no one has yet emerged as the
State lawmakers have an opportunity to replace Madigan with another
Madigan, or to reform the system that allowed him to gather more
power than any other lawmaker in the nation. Illinois needs to
reform how the legislature operates by taking the redistricting
process out of the hands of lawmakers, by reforming the House Rules
to limit the speaker’s power, by strengthening ethics rules to
mandate transparency and hold lawmakers accountable for their
conflicts of interest, and by freeing the legislative inspector
general to investigate and publicize wrongdoing without obstruction
To miss this opportunity would be a crime.
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