Democratic state senator calls on Madigan to resign

Democratic state senator calls on Madigan to resign

Madigan was implicated in bribery charges filed against ComEd. Calls for his resignation are starting.

Six hours after news broke that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was implicated in federal bribery charges against Commonwealth Edison, one Democratic state senator called for his resignation.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, called for Madigan to resign based on his actions as a state lawmaker, even though charges have not been filed against him. Bush said Madigan’s involvement with ComEd’s bribery scheme is enough for him to resign from office.

“I would encourage the Speaker to take his own advice and resign not only his Speakership and his legislative seat, but step down as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, effective immediately,” Bush said in a statement.

Bush cited Madigan’s own words from last fall when former state Rep. Luis Arroyo was charged with bribery. At that time, Madigan “urged” Arroyo to resign immediately.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker also expressed deep concern about Madigan’s implication in the scheme and said he has a lot to answer for.

“If these allegations of wrongdoing by the Speaker are true, there is no question that he will have betrayed the public trust and he must resign therefore,” Pritzker said.

While some Democrats start to pressure Madigan to quit an office he has held since 1971, others were dodging that question.

Former federal prosecutor and current Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said “that’s not really for me to say” when asked if Madigan, who represents the southwest side of her city, should resign.  Lightfoot has been vocal about political corruption in her city, calling out the main players and securing reforms.

As for Madigan, a statement from his office said he has no plans to go anywhere. It said he will cooperate with the grand jury subpoena, believing it will prove his innocence.

“He has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and has engaged in no wrongdoing here,” Madigan spokeswoman Maura Possley said in the statement. “Any claim to the contrary is unfounded.”

Federal investigations have again put a spotlight on corruption during Madigan’s tenure as House speaker. While his resignation would be a critical step toward reforming the state, it would mean little without leadership on corruption and ethics reforms, topics on which Pritzker has been essentially silent.

Lawmakers must pursue ethics reform to stifle the system that has allowed Madigan to accumulate power for nearly 50 years. This includes shutting the state’s revolving door that allows lawmakers to become lobbyists after leaving office, requiring lawmakers to disclose conflicts of interest before taking action on a bill, banning General Assembly members and their immediate household from working as lobbyists at the same time and allowing the Legislative Inspector General to investigate ethics violations without influence from state lawmakers.

But it can’t stop with ethics reform. Madigan’s reign has blocked critical reforms to help state taxpayers, as he’s refused to let pension reform bills reach the House floor and allowed a property tax relief task force to wallow and achieve nothing. Lawmakers must now demand pension reform to save the state’s crippled systems and work to lower property taxes on residents.

So long as Mike Madigan remains House speaker, he stands in the way of reforms to problems that have plagued the Land of Lincoln. His resignation would be a start to the cure.

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