ILLINOIS (IRN) – In light of utility company ComEd’s admissions about a broad scheme to advance its initiatives in Springfield by allegedly trading favors with House Speaker Michael Madigan, a growing chorus of lawmakers is demanding the Chicago Democrat’s resignation.
Madigan has yet to face any charges formally. However, U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. released details of a criminal complaint against ComEd Friday that describes how the utility company engaged Madigan’s allies in a vast quid pro quo that ensured legislation that ComEd favored would pass in Springfield. In a Friday statement, Madigan denied any wrongdoing.
As of Friday afternoon, few Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives would publicly call for Madigan to step down, but some spoke up.
“Corruption at any level of government is not acceptable and needs to end,” Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, said without directly calling for Madigan’s resignation. “I have watched so many work harder than any human should in order to get elected and be the voice for their community. This culture needs to end, the dark cloud over all of our heads lifted. Being an elected official is a privilege. When anyone decides it is about their own personal gain, they no longer deserve that privilege.”
The sweeping federal corruption probe has targeted state lawmakers, Springfield lobbyists and local government officials as well.
State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, was one of the first Democratic state lawmakers to call for Madigan to step down. Her Friday statement referenced the federal probe into corruption in Springfield that’s already led to federal charges against state lawmakers.
“In one of these cases, Speaker Madigan’s office ‘urged’ a state representative and member of his own caucus to ‘resign, effective immediately.’ That was state Representative Luis Arroyo, and he resigned after being charged with bribery by federal authorities,” she said. “I would encourage the Speaker to take his own advice and resign not only his speakership and legislative seat but step down as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, effective immediately.”
Several House Republicans also called for the speaker to step down.
“The allegations presented today are troubling and downright depressing,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said during a Friday news conference. “Speaker Madigan needs to ‘speak’ up on this issue, and if the allegations are true, he needs to resign immediately. Just as important, I hope that members of the General Assembly in the majority party, the Democratic Party, have the courage to finally stand up and demand an explanation of their leader that they have for decades elected to rule. The citizens of Illinois deserve so much better.”
Plainfield Republican Rep. Mark Batinick, who called for Madigan’s resignation early on in the corruption investigation, again called for the speaker to step down.
“I was the first elected official to call for the speaker to resign and that sentiment rings even truer today,” Batinick said Friday. “If we are going to truly root out corruption in our system, it starts from the top down. Elected officials need to be held the most accountable and with today’s charges, it is clear that the time has come for the speaker to answer to the people of Illinois.”
East Dundee Republican and long-time Madigan critic Rep. Allen Skillicorn said, “It is finally time for Michael J. Madigan to be held accountable for decades of abusing the public trust, starting with his resignation as Speaker of the House.”
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, responded in kind.
“At the same time Illinois Democrats are pushing for a massive tax increase, residents are again confronted with Democratic corruption at the highest levels of their state government,” Brady said, referring to a progressive income tax proposal on the November ballot. “If the allegations reported today against Speaker Madigan turn out to be true, then he should resign.”
The lawmakers joined Gov. J.B. Pritzker in demanding Madigan step away from the positions he’s held for decades, although Pritzker couched his statement depending on Madigan’s guilt.