Madigan gives $2M to Illinois Democratic Party, its largest donation in history

Madigan gives $2M to Illinois Democratic Party, its largest donation in history

Undaunted by his implication in a bribery scandal, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan within the past month transferred $3.25 million to the state party.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan gave $2 million from his campaign fund Sept. 18 to the Illinois Democratic Party, the largest donation in the party’s history. It followed another donation from him of $1.25 million on Aug. 25.

Madigan routinely gives from his own account to candidates, but by transferring the funds from his account to the party the funds can be spent without any limitations on contribution size and be used for direct mail to take advantage of the party’s deep discount on postage.

The funds can also be spent without giving opponents the chance to tie Democrats to Madigan’s money after he was implicated in a $1.3 million bribery scandal involving Commonwealth Edison.

Madigan is chairman of the state party as well as House speaker. He is the only legislative leader in the nation to also serve as the leader of a state party. By holding both positions, Madigan has significant control of his party members on the campaign trail and in the legislature.

Madigan has regularly transferred money to the state party, for a total of $20.8 million. He transferred $4.9 million during the fall 2018 campaigns and within the past month transferred $3.25 million, including the record-setting donation.

Madigan also maintains a significant war chest for his own campaign, although he has little competition in his elections. Friends of Madigan had $13.6 million at the end of June.

While Madigan may have a firm grip on campaign cash, his hold on his colleagues’ support has been slipping.

On Aug. 11, 53 Illinois Democrats penned an open letter calling for Madigan to resign, including former candidate for governor and former state Sen. Daniel Biss, former gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy, Pat Quinn’s Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon among many current and former Democratic leaders at the local level. The group stated “it has become clear due to the ongoing corruption scandal that Michael Madigan’s leadership is threatening Illinois Democrats’ ability to achieve [our] goals.”

Ten General Assembly Democrats have also called for his resignation as speaker and party chairman. This includes seven members of the House. A house committee is also investigating whether Madigan’s behavior was unbecoming of a state lawmaker and has called Madigan to testify in front of the committee.

In July, federal prosecutors announced ComEd had been charged with a years-long bribery scheme that sought to “influence and reward” Madigan between 2011 and 2019 by arranging for $1.3 million in jobs, contracts and payments to his political cronies. Subpoenas were served seeking information as to Madigan’s involvement with similar schemes involving AT&T and others.

Madigan was not charged as part of the case, but was identified in court documents as “Public Official A.” As part of the deferred prosecution agreement, ComEd is paying a $200 million fine, admitted seeking Madigan’s help in passing legislation worth more than $150 million to the company and will continue to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation into public corruption.

Madigan has denied doing anything wrong.

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