CHICAGO (CBS) — Little more than a month after surrendering the gavel as Speaker of the Illinois House, Michael Madigan has resigned his seat as a state representative.
Initially, Madigan released a statement saying his resignation would be effective at the end of February. But Madigan has since issued a letter saying his resignation was effective immediately.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Weekend Warmup
CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported it is not clear why Madigan abruptly changed his resignation date. He declined an interview request.
“It has been my great honor to serve the people of Illinois as speaker of the House and state representative of the 22nd District. This journey would not have been possible without my wonderful wife, Shirley, and children, Lisa, Tiffany, Nicole and Andrew, who have stood by my side year after year, providing their love and support despite the pressure of growing up in the public spotlight. I am fortunate to have them in my life,” Madigan said in an earlier statement.
A spokesperson confirmed Madigan plans to keep his position as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.
Last month, after it became clear he did not have the votes to be elected to another term as Speaker, Madigan suspended his campaign for another term leading the Illinois House, opening the door for Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a close ally, to be elected the new Speaker.
“I thank the former Speaker for his sincere and meaningful contributions to our state. Under him, we’ve had strong, sustained Democratic leadership in Springfield. We legalized same-sex marriage, abolished the death penalty and solidified abortion rights. Illinois also became the first state in the Midwest to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. These laws gave underserved populations a new sense of hope,” Welch said in a statement on Madigan’s resignation from the House. “Now we must build on that with a new generation of leadership focused on racial and gender equity in all dimensions, improving government transparency, and leading with the kind of conviction, compassion and cooperation expected by our constituents. I truly appreciate his contributions and I join Illinoisans across the state in wishing him well.”
Madigan, 78, has been a state representative for 50 years, and led the chamber for 36 of the past 38 years before stepping down last month as the longest-serving state House Speaker in U.S. history.
“Fifty years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to public service. Simply put, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I believed then and still do today that it is our duty as public servants to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and help hardworking people build a good life. These ideals have been the cornerstone of my work on behalf of the people of Illinois and the driving force throughout my time in the Illinois House,” Madigan said in a statement. “As speaker, legislator and member of the Illinois Constitutional Convention, I worked to make the General Assembly a co-equal branch of government, ensuring it acted as a check on the power of the governor and the executive branch, especially around a governor’s abuse of the amendatory veto. Many heated battles were fought to keep governors from rewriting legislation sent to them by the General Assembly.”
In a statement, Gov. JB Pritzker said, “Madigan and his family dedicated countless hours to serving Illinois families, particularly during the Rauner years, when he served as the bulwark against constant cruelty to the most vulnerable.”
The governor also praised Madigan for helping pass important legislation such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, gradually increasing the Illinois minimum wage to $15 per hour, expanding voting access, and protecting women’s reproductive rights.
“The people of Illinois have much to be grateful for thanks to his dedicated public service, and the many sacrifices he and his family made to make a difference in our lives. I know how dearly he loves his wife Shirley, their children and grandchildren, and I hope that in this next chapter, his family can begin to make up for lost time,” Pritzker said in a statement.
Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton also released a statement touting Madigan’s achievements.
“Michael Madigan has retired after 50 years as state representative of the 22nd district. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the residents in his southwest side district, and fought for the rights of all Illinoisans when it came to advancing resources and rights in gaining fair wages, voting, women’s empowerment, and more. He leaves a legacy of service and sacrifice that is to be admired and is deserving of our gratitude” Stratton said in the statement.
She continued: “It is simply not possible to give so much to the people of Illinois without sacrifice. From my family to his, I wish him and his wife Shirley happiness and joy as they enjoy these retirement years together after a long career in public service.”
However, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy countered that “Madigan’s legacy is that of presiding over the decline of a once great state, ballooning pension liabilities by hundreds of billions of dollars, and the accumulation of historic political power that primarily benefited government insiders and special interests.”
“Chairman Madigan may no longer be a state representative, but he is still Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois where he personally controls over $15 million in campaign cash,” Tracy said in a statement.
Madigan lost his seat as Illinois House Speaker only after he was implicated last year in the sweeping ComEd bribery scandal.
“It’s no secret that I have been the target of vicious attacks by people who sought to diminish my many achievements lifting up the working people of Illinois. The fact is, my motivation for holding elected office has never wavered. I have been resolute in my dedication to public service and integrity, always acting in the interest of the people of Illinois,” Madigan said in a statement.
Despite Madigan’s nearly 40-year reign as Speaker, during which he became seen as the most powerful politician in the state, it had appeared certain for weeks he would not get another term, after 19 House Democrats announced last year that they would not vote to re-elect him due to the ComEd scandal, leaving him short of the 60 votes he needed.
After multiple votes by the House Democratic Caucus last month, Welch emerged victorious, becoming the first Black person to become House Speaker in Illinois.READ MORE: Northwestern Alums Create 'The Seeker,' A Highly Accurate Football Thrower They Call A Robotic QB
Madigan has been under fire for months over the ComEd bribery scandal. Last July, federal prosecutors accused ComEd 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.
ComEd has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the feds, and has agreed to pay a $200 million fine, enact a number of reforms, and cooperate with investigators in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges in 2023 if ComEd lives up to its obligations.
In November, longtime Madigan confidant Michael McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd executive and lobbyist John Hooker, and former lobbyist Jay Doherty were charged with bribery conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd books and records. They have pleaded not guilty. That followed the September guilty plea by a former ComEd vice president, Fidel Marquez.
Madigan, 78, has not been charged with a crime, and has denied any wrongdoing.
You can read Madigan’s full statement below. This statement said his resignation would be effective at the end of the month and was issued prior to the subsequent letter:
“Today I am announcing that I will resign as state representative of the 22nd district at the end of the month. It has been my great honor to serve the people of Illinois as speaker of the House and state representative of the 22nd District. This journey would not have been possible without my wonderful wife, Shirley, and children, Lisa, Tiffany, Nicole and Andrew, who have stood by my side year after year, providing their love and support despite the pressure of growing up in the public spotlight. I am fortunate to have them in my life.
“Fifty years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to public service. Simply put, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I believed then and still do today that it is our duty as public servants to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and help hardworking people build a good life. These ideals have been the cornerstone of my work on behalf of the people of Illinois and the driving force throughout my time in the Illinois House.
“As speaker, legislator and member of the Illinois Constitutional Convention, I worked to make the General Assembly a co-equal branch of government, ensuring it acted as a check on the power of the governor and the executive branch, especially around a governor’s abuse of the amendatory veto. Many heated battles were fought to keep governors from rewriting legislation sent to them by the General Assembly.
“I am particularly proud of our work to increase the diversity of voices in the House Democratic Caucus to include more women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. In my tenure as Illinois House speaker, we worked to elect representatives across all backgrounds and beliefs to truly represent the interests of the people of our state.
“With the partnership of this diverse and talented group of Illinois Democrats and with our colleagues across the aisle, we were able to level the playing field and strengthen the middle class while workers in other states saw their wages diminished.
“We achieved school funding reform to increase investment for schools in need and address inequalities in our state’s education system. We made Illinois a welcoming state by passing the Illinois Dream Act and providing drivers’ licenses for undocumented residents.
“We strengthened the rights of workers, increased the minimum wage, expanded access to health care for Illinois’ most vulnerable residents, and protected a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.
“We upheld the rights of all Illinois residents by passing marriage equality, finally recognizing the rights of men and women to marry the people they love. We enacted criminal justice reforms to break down laws that too often target people of color and led the country in expanding voting rights as other states weakened them.
“Collaborating with leaders in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing, health care and other industries, we built a partnership with job creators to encourage economic development and address crises in our unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems. We also expanded opportunities in the tourism and film industry, created the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority that reinvented McCormick Place and Navy Pier, and established the Illinois Sports Facility Authority that kept the White Sox in Chicago.
“When were confronted with the Rauner administration and the interests of the wealthy, who sought to weaken unions and the labor movement in Illinois, we stood up for working people.
Rauner went on to plunge our state into a budget crisis, nearly bankrupting social service agencies, eliminating funding for higher education, and racking up billions of dollars in state debt in the process. House Democrats stood as the last line of defense to protect our state from collapse.
“Under my leadership, we increased transparency of state and local government by creating the Freedom of Information Act and protecting it from attempts to water it down, impeached Rod Blagojevich and repeatedly strengthened the state’s ethics and campaign finance laws.”
“It’s no secret that I have been the target of vicious attacks by people who sought to diminish my many achievements lifting up the working people of Illinois. The fact is, my motivation for holding elected office has never wavered. I have been resolute in my dedication to public service and integrity, always acting in the interest of the people of Illinois.”
“My achievements would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of many members of my staff through the years. I thank them for their efforts on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus and the people of Illinois. I also want to thank the many volunteers and supporters who worked on behalf of the residents of the 22nd District. It is with the collective support of many that we have made Illinois a bastion of Democratic values.MORE NEWS: Cariacature Artist, Substitute Teacher Says She Keeps Trying To Reach Illinois Unemployment Office -- Only To Have Calls Dropped
“I leave office at peace with my decision and proud of the many contributions I’ve made to the state of Illinois, and I do so knowing I’ve made a difference.”