Madigan again picks his successor after first one lasted 2 days

Madigan again picks his successor after first one lasted 2 days

Mike Madigan again controlled the choice of his replacement as state representative after his first pick resigned over ‘questionable conduct.’ This pick is a community activist who manages COVID-19 contact tracing.

The quick implosion of Mike Madigan’s choice as his replacement to represent the 22nd Illinois House District was quickly followed by a new choice: Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar, who was sworn in Feb. 25.

Guerrero-Cuellar said she plans to be a full-time state lawmaker, quitting her job managing outreach work for COVID-19, including contact tracing. She is the daughter of immigrants and her husband is a Chicago police officer.

She was one of the 10 candidates from whom Edward Guerra Kodatt was initially selected by Madigan. Madigan refused to discuss the Kodatt debacle after Guerrero-Cuellar’s selection.

“She’s been anchored in the community,” Madigan told the Chicago Tribune. “She’s had good experience and understanding of the needs and the desires of the people of the Southwest Side.”

Madigan on Feb. 21 first chose Kodatt, a 26-year-old worker from the constituent services office he shares with Chicago Ward 13 Ald. Marty Quinn. Then on Feb. 23 Madigan asked Kodatt to resign after “questionable conduct” allegations. Madigan has refused to detail the allegations, but Kodatt resigned on Feb. 24.

Despite serving only two days, Kodatt is entitled to a month’s salary as a lawmaker – $5,789. He has been urged not to seek the money by several politicians and Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza used the situation to call attention to her push that lawmaker pay be pro-rated for time actually worked to avoid abuse.

That said, three people are now entitled to February pay for the same state representative seat: Madigan, Kodatt and Guerrero-Cuellar. Mendoza placed that potential cost at $17,366.

Madigan quit as representative of the district surrounding Midway Airport Feb. 18, a month after he was ousted as House speaker. He served in the House for 50 years and as speaker for 36.

His resignation as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois came Feb. 22 – a day after he said he saw no need to resign and nearly four months after he ignored demands by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth to quit as party chair. Madigan’s name and corruption were tied to Democratic causes and candidates, causing significant losses on Election Day in 2020.

Madigan was implicated in a more than $1.3 million bribery scandal involving Commonwealth Edison, which told federal prosecutors it was buying Madigan’s influence as House speaker.

U.S. Attorney John Lausch, who led the ComEd and Madigan probe along with a slew of other public corruption investigations in Illinois, may remain in his spot for some additional time after appeals by Durbin and Duckworth that he not be asked to quit along with all Trump-era appointees. A day after news that Lausch would stay, a longtime political operative, Roberto Caldero, was indicted for bribery involving a massive contract with Chicago Public Schools and a $100,000 bribe to get a street and park renamed for a business owner’s family members. Prosecutors said Caldero was also involved in getting Viagra and massage parlor visits for former Chicago Ald. Danny Solis, who was wearing a wire for the FBI and capturing conversations with fellow politicians.

Madigan will begin collecting his $7,100-a-month pension from his House service in March. His monthly pension benefit will then jump to $12,600 a month a little more than a year later, thanks to a pension sweetener Madigan helped pass that is no longer available to lawmakers.

The General Assembly Retirement System has only 17% of what it will need to pay Madigan and other lawmakers’ retirement benefits.

The system of cronyism and corruption that kept Madigan in power for so long has been costly for Illinoisans. It kills at least $556 million in economic growth every year, which between 2000 and 2018 took $830 in additional income from every Illinoisan.

A new report ranking federal corruption convictions per capita named Chicago as the most corrupt city in the nation and Illinois as the No. 2 state, behind Louisiana. The biggest headline-grabbing corruption revelations of 2019 were not even included in the latest federal data, the report released Feb. 22 by the University of Illinois at Chicago stated.

Since the federal data was first collected in 1976, Illinois has averaged nearly a conviction a week, and that is just for federal prosecutions. The total is 2,152 individuals convicted of betraying the public trust.

Madigan leaves Illinois with a culture of corruption that is the worst of the nation’s 10 largest states and a pension crisis that is the worst in the nation measured by the state’s debt-to-revenue ratio. It got that way thanks largely to his system of political cronyism and his alliance with public sector unions, trading generous benefits for campaign support.

Madigan’s legacy of pension and corruption problems will continue unless Illinois state leaders champion pension reform, ethics reform and budgeting reform.

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