In the wake of 4 former members of Commonwealth Edison’s executive management and lobbying receiving indictments in federal court yesterday, Governor J.B. Pritzker had pointed words for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan yesterday during his daily COVID-19 press briefing.
Pritzker says that Madigan has a lot to answer for with the residents of the state: “When I took office almost 2 years ago, I knew that I needed to do at least one thing: end the massive dysfunction of the Rauner years. If that meant working with people that I disagree with – Democrats or Republicans – then, I was willing to do that and I have done that. When it comes to the law, I don’t have any ability to predict how this investigation by the U.S. attorney into Speaker Madigan’s actions is going to conclude and I would not even try. I firmly believe that anyone accused of a crime and those who face accusations of wrongdoing are innocent until proven guilty, but that is not our standard for holding higher office. Instead, here’s what we all know. The pay-to-lay, quid pro quo situation outlined in these indictments released last night are unspeakably wrong. Anyone who concludes otherwise is insulting the public. 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 the people and answer every last question to their satisfaction. Written statements and dodged investigatory hearings are not going to cut it. If the Speaker cannot commit to that level of transparency, then the time has come for him to resign as Speaker. We are at an incredibly difficult moment in our state. We are all overwhelmed with decisions of life and death and economic distress. The people of Illinois do not deserve a political circus on top of that.”
Madigan continues to maintain his innocence in written statements after being implicated in the new indictments as well as in the Deferred Prosecution Agreement between ComEd and the federal government about the decade-long bribery and patronage hiring scheme. Madigan claims he had no knowledge of the illegal misdeeds of those who have been charged, and claims his recommendations for state jobs violate no state law.
Pritzker was joined by the 17th Democrat in the Illinois House yesterday. Daniel Didech of Buffalo Grove issued the following statement last night: “Today I informed my colleagues that I believe now is the time, for the first time in four decades, for the House Democratic Caucus to choose a new Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. It is critical that our work to select a new leader begins today. Every candidate for this important office deserves a fair shot and each member deserves the opportunity for their voice to be heard and respected. I am fully confident that we can soon select a Speaker who will unite our caucus so we can continue our important work serving the people of Illinois.”
If current votes hold, Madigan is likely to lose the House Speaker seat for the first time since 1983. Madigan needs 60 votes to maintain the seat, he currently only has 57 with Didech’s defection.