CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan plans to run for another term leading the chamber in January, despite a growing number of his own members saying they won’t vote for him due to the latest revelations in the ComEd bribery scandal.
At least 18 House Democrats have said they won’t back another term for Madigan when the new Illinois General Assembly is sworn in after the new year. Madigan needs at least 60 votes to keep his leadership position, and Democrats are expected to hold 73 seats, so if the lawmakers who’ve said they won’t support him hold firm, he’d be five votes shy.READ MORE: Chicago Culture Celebrates The City While Giving Back To Youth For Black History Month
That doesn’t appear to faze the embattled speaker, who has led the Illinois House for all but two years since 1983.
“The decision on the next speaker of the Illinois House will be made at a caucus, after a full discussion of the issues facing our state and the qualifications of the candidates,” Madigan said in a statement Friday night. “I plan to be a candidate for speaker, and today I confirmed that I continue to have support from a significant number of House Democratic caucus members.”
Madigan is the longest-serving legislative leader in U.S. history, and is the only current House Speaker to double as his party’s chairman.
His announcement that he will seek another term comes just days after longtime confidant Michael McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, ex-ComEd executive and lobbyist John Hooker, and former ComEd consultant Jay Doherty were indicted in the ComEd bribery case.
This week’s indictment virtually mirrored the case laid out against ComEd itself earlier this year, accusing the company of a yearslong bribery scheme that sought to curry Madigan’s favor in advancing legislation relaxing state regulation of ComEd’s rates by directing $1.3 million in payments to the speaker’s associates. ComEd acknowledged it stood to benefit by more than $150 million from that legislation.
Wednesday’s indictment accuses McClain, Pramaggiore, Hooker, and Doherty of using their influence to reward “Public Official A” – not specified by name as Madigan but referred to in the indictment as Speaker of the Illinois House – for about eight years beginning in 2011.
The indictment claims the four defendants conspired to influence and reward the speaker by arranging for jobs and contracts for his political allies and workers. The jobs sometimes involved little or no work, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.READ MORE: Mother And 10-Year-Old Daughter Dead, 4 Family Members Hospitalized After House Fire In Auburn Gresham
The defendants are also accused of creating false contracts, invoices, and other records to disguise some of the payments and get around ComEd internal controls, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Further, the defendants are accused of making other efforts to try to influence Madigan, including having ComEd retain a law firm that was favored by the speaker, and accepting a certain number of students from the official’s Chicago aldermanic ward into the ComEd internship program, prosecutors said.
Pramaggiore and McClain are also accused of working to have someone appointed to the ComEd Board of Directors at the request of the speaker and McClain.
Madigan himself has not been charged with a crime, and has denied any wrongdoing. While he has issued written statements defending himself and lashing out at critics, he has yet to speak publicly about the ComEd case.
Gov. JB Pritzker this week said Madigan must come forward to answer questions about the case, or step down as Speaker.
“If Speaker Madigan wants to continue in a position of enormous public trust with such a serious public cloud hanging over his head, then he has to at the very least be willing to stand in front of the press and the people and answer every last question to their satisfaction,” Pritzker said Thursday afternoon. “Written statements and dodged investigatory hearings are not going to cut it. If the Speaker cannot commit to that level of transparency, then the time has come for him to resign as Speaker.”
Since the latest charges in the ComEd case were announced, 10 House Democrats announced they would not vote for Madigan for speaker in January. Eight other House Democrats had previously said they would not support Madigan for another term, including Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, of Oswego, who has said she will run for Speaker in January.
If Madigan expects to keep his seat, he must convince at least five of those Democrats to change their minds in the coming weeks; more if other Democrats come forward to call on him to step down.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Warm But Wet Sunday Morning Ahead Of Cold Front
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