Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that House Speaker Michael Madigan’s declaration that he would not resign after being implicated in ComEd’s federal bribery scandal wasn’t a sufficient response and that he owes the public a full explanation.
“Look, he continues to have unanswered questions hanging out there. He needs to stand up and answer those questions,” said Pritzker, who has called on Madigan to resign if it is proven he played a role ComEd’s efforts to gain political influence with him by offering jobs, contracts and payments to close allies.
“I believe people who serve the public interest, people who get elected to public office, have a duty to be transparent and to live up to the integrity that’s demanded by the public for their public service,” Pritzker said. “He needs to stand up and answer these questions because people have serious questions about those things and any public servant who isn’t willing to do that. And I’ve made that clear.”
Pritzker’s comments at an unrelated news conference in the Little Village neighborhood came a day after Madigan, long the state’s most powerful politician and the nation’s longest-serving statehouse speaker, vowed he would not step down from his governmental role or from his state Democratic Party chairmanship after polling members of his 73-member House majority by phone.
Last month, ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine and cooperate with federal prosecutors after they alleged a near-decadelong bribery and influence scheme aimed at winning favor with Madigan. The Southwest Side Democrat, who is not charged with any wrongdoing, was identified as “Public Official A” in the federal documents against ComEd.
In a statement issued Thursday night after contacting members of his caucus, Madigan said, “I have never made a legislative decision with improper motives and any claim otherwise is unfounded.”
“I understand that the last couple of weeks have been difficult for our caucus and party, and I have had many candid conversations with members of the Democratic caucus on this matter. The feedback is positive and demonstrates continued support for me and my leadership roles,” he said.
“I have no plans to resign,” said Madigan, 78, who has held the speaker’s gavel since 1983 with the exception of two years in the mid-1990s when Republicans gained control of the chamber.
Madigan has seen increasing calls for him to resign from his legislative post, his state party chairmanship or both. On Thursday, two members of his House majority said Madigan was polling members asking if they agreed with Democratic state Reps. Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn and Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego, who both asked Madigan to step down from his governmental post. Costa Howard also said Madigan should resign as state Democratic chair.
Overall, seven Democratic legislators -- Reps. Costa Howard, Kifowit, Kelly Cassidy of Chicago and Anne Stava-Murray of Naperville; and Sens. Melinda Bush of Grayslake, and Heather Steans and Iris Martinez of Chicago -- have called on Madigan to at least resign his speakership.
On Friday, Democratic state Rep. Jonathan “Yoni” Pizer of Chicago, called for Madigan to step down as speaker and Democratic chair.
“I urge my fellow members of the Illinois General Assembly to join me in calling for Speaker Madigan’s resignation,” Pizer said. “This is a principled position which should be met without threats of political retribution from House leaders or staff. With the speaker’s resignation, I believe we can focus on the critical issues that matter most to our state and our nation.”
Pizer was appointed to the House in February and lost a primary bid in March for election to the North Side seat.
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