Madigan is stepping down from Illinois Home with quick impact

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect Madigan’s immediate resignation and additional comments from Republicans and political experts. Our Friday print editions went to press before we received this updated history from CRF.

Former House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, 78, announced Thursday that he will be stepping down from the state’s House of Representatives after 50 years in office.

“I will leave my post in peace with my decision and I am proud of the many contributions I have made to the state of Illinois and I know that I have made a difference,” Madigan wrote in a long e-mailed statement.

His original statement said he planned to retire by the end of the month, but a letter he sent to the Illinois House secretary late Thursday said his resignation was effective immediately, a spokesman confirmed. His current term, which he won in November, would have ended in January 2023.

Madigan, the longest-serving House Speaker in the country, did not get enough support to win another term as speaker, leading to the election of Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch last month.

Madigan’s support within the Democratic faction began to crumble after federal prosecutors announced last July that utility giant Commonwealth Edison admitted its executives had bribed Madigan employees in a year-long plan to ensure legislation favorable to the company.

Although he has not been charged and he denies wrongdoing, Madigan was put on the defensive after Republican lawmakers set up a special committee to investigate his involvement in the scheme. That committee ended with a partial determination that Madigan has not committed any conduct that is inappropriate for a lawmaker to act.

“It’s no secret that I have been the target of vicious attacks from people trying to undermine my many accomplishments in order to benefit the working population of Illinois. The fact is, my motivation to hold an elected office has never diminished in commitment to civil service and integrity, always in the interests of the people of Illinois, “Madigan said in the statement.

Madigan, who grew up in the Clearing neighborhood of southwest Chicago, is a graduate of Notre Dame University and Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

In 1969, just two years after graduating from law school, Madigan was elected a Democratic Committee member for the city’s 13th district and was appointed a delegate to the 1970 Constitutional Convention. In 1970 he was first elected to represent the 22nd district, which includes part of the southwest side of Chicago.

Madigan has been a partner in his Chicago tax firm Madigan & Getzendanner since it was co-founded in 1972.

He was elected House Speaker for the first time in 1983 and served every but two years until January 2021. In 1998 he was elected chairman of the state Democratic Party, a position he continues to hold.

His term as party leader ends in March 2022. A spokesman for Madigan did not comment on his plans for the role. As party chairman, Madigan retains control of the Illinois Democratic Party’s committee fund, which has nearly $ 2 million available.

Even after leaving the House of Representatives, Madigan will control two other massive political committee funds: The Friends of Michael J. Madigan with more than $ 13.5 million and the 13th Ward Democratic Organization with more than $ 2.6 million -Dollar.

Kent Redfield, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said Madigan could continue to accept contributions to the friends of Michael J. Madigan and the 13th Ward group, and distribute money from those committees to the committees of other candidates.

Redfield said Madigan’s sources of power came from overseeing the legislative process in the House of Representatives and “being able to raise and distribute money, which gave him tremendous control over who ran for office and how it impacted those campaigns” .

“That was the key to his power,” said Redfield. “He’s losing spokespersons and stepping down from the legislature – he’s in a significantly weakened position and it’s not clear how much influence he’ll have on the (Illinois Democratic Party).”

Madigan’s oversight of a huge war chest as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, as well as his unilateral power over the House of Representatives, led some, particularly the Republicans, to demonize him as a corrupt machine boss who, with the support of organized labor and trial lawyers, controlled the Illinois State Government.

Former Governor Bruce Rauner, who campaigned for the dissolution of unions in Illinois, ran ads during his tenure plagued by a two-year budget blockade that marked Madigan as a power-hungry puppeteer.

Western Springs Republican minority leader Jim Durkin, who opened the Special Committee’s investigation into Madigan, reiterated this characterization of Madigan, describing the former spokesman’s tenure as “autocratic rule” that “has not made Illinois a wealthier or more competitive state. “

Durkin said in his written statement that Madigan’s resignation marks a “new day” in Illinois that he has looked forward to for many years.

“I urge the Democrats in both chambers and the governor to think about how we can use this opportunity to improve Illinois,” said Durkin. “Our state is in ruins – financially, structurally and ethically. New ideas and sincere cooperation between the parties are the only way forward.”

During his five decades on the General Assembly, Madigan oversaw significant legislative achievements, including passing a law on same-sex marriage and raising the minimum wage to $ 15 by 2025.

Welch, D-Hillside, said in a written statement that he appreciates Madigan’s contributions and wishes him well.

“Under him, we had strong, enduring Democratic leadership in Springfield. We have legalized same-sex marriage, abolished the death penalty and entrenched abortion law. Illinois was also the first state in the Midwest to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. “These laws gave underserved populations a new sense of hope,” Welch said.

“Now we need to build on that with a new generation of leaders who focus on racial and gender equality in all dimensions, improve government transparency, and lead with the kind of conviction, compassion and cooperation expected from our electorate.”

Governor JB Pritzker also expressed his gratitude for Madigan’s services and thanked his family as well.

“One thing I’m going to say is that when you work so long and so hard, his family can really suffer, just as far as the number of hours the man puts into the job,” Pritzker said in an independent public Appearance in Belleville Thursday.

“It is a challenge to the spouses, children, and grandchildren of someone who has put so much into the public service, and I really just want to challenge them today and say that they really deserve public service praise that the former Spokesperson Madigan did it because it’s the family that often suffers from being away from home when they want it to be. “

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