Madigan quits as party chair day after picking his House successor

Madigan quits as party chair day after picking his House successor

Mike Madigan quit as Democratic Party of Illinois chairman a day after picking his successor for the Illinois House, four days after resigning as representative and one month after he was ousted as the nation's longest-serving Statehouse speaker.

Mike Madigan is out as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, and his successor for the Illinois House is in.

Madigan resigned as party chair a day after saying he had no intention of doing so.

On Feb. 21 he was asked about when he planned to resign and said: “I have no idea. I don’t feel a need to step down.”

On Feb. 22 the need was suddenly there: “Over the last two decades, we have elected a diverse array of Democrats across Illinois and helped send a hometown Chicago leader to the White House, turning Illinois into a Democratic stronghold in the Midwest. Together, we faced conservative extremism and stood up for working men and women. I’m confident the Democratic Party of Illinois will continue to cement our place as a beacon of progressive values.”

The resignation was immediate. Karen Yarbrough moves up as interim party chair after serving as vice chair.

Madigan chose his House successor Feb. 21, controlling 56% of the vote. It was Edward Guerra Kodatt, 26, who since 2017 has worked in the constituent services office Madigan shares with Chicago 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn. Kodatt makes $42,456 as a bilingual outreach and budget assistant in the office.

Madigan’s district, which surrounds Midway Airport, has the state’s third-largest Latino population, according to the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus. Kodatt is Ecuadorian-American.

After the selection process, Madigan made the comment about seeing no need to resign as party chairman. But both U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, along with Gov. J.B. Pritzker, saw a need. They called for Madigan’s resignation as party chair two days after Pritzker’s “fair tax” was defeated, a Democrat wasn’t retained on the Illinois Supreme Court and other ground was lost by Democrats in the Nov. 3 elections.

They blamed opponents’ ability to tag Democrats and their issues with corruption labels after Madigan was implicated in an over $1.3 million bribery scandal involving Commonwealth Edison. They asked that he resign immediately, but he refused then as well.

Madigan’s term as party chair would have expired in a little more than a year. He’s held the spot since 1997.

Madigan was ousted as House speaker Jan. 13, failing to receive a single vote after serving for 36 years. On Feb. 18 he resigned his House seat after 50 years.

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

A new report ranking federal corruption convictions per capita names 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.

“Bombshell corruption news reports [in 2019] dethroned the city’s most powerful alderman, upset Chicago’s mayoral election campaign, torpedoed the most powerful and well-known candidate, and threatened the political existence of Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and Chairman of the State Democratic Party, Michael Madigan.”

Madigan said his life is improving with “less to do.” Next month, Madigan will begin collecting his legislative pension, receiving monthly pension benefits worth $7,100. Just a little more than a year later, his pension will be worth $12,600 a month. That spike is due to a pension sweetener Madigan helped passed that is no longer available to lawmakers.

He will draw from a pension system with only 17% of the money it needs and leaves Illinois with 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 alliance with public sector unions and 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.

“A lot of issues are important to me,” Kodatt said when asked what his first bill would be.mad

Considering the cost of the culture of corruption and cronyism created by his predecessor, some issues stand out.

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