Daniels honored in Springfield
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SPRINGFIELD — Former House Speaker Lee Daniels of Elmhurst was honored Wednesday in Springfield, where a portrait of him will now hang permanently in the Illinois Capitol.
Daniels, who hadn't been back to the House since his final term ended in 2007, expressed gratitude for the recognition.
"Normally it's after you're gone that you're heaped with honor," the longtime Republican said.
His portrait will hang in the Illinois House chamber for the time being. He helped pull a piece of red fabric off the frame, unveiling the picture Wednesday.
Daniels is known for his work on issues to aid the developmentally disabled, and in his speech to the House Wednesday, he urged lawmakers to help Illinoisans who can't help themselves.
"Government needs to be there for them," he said.
Daniels was the only House speaker in Illinois to break up Democrat Michael Madigan's reign, which started in 1983. Daniels was speaker from 1995-1997 and served as House Republican leader for far longer.
Madigan complimented Daniels on the House floor as a "competent, effective leader." And Rep. Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst, who replaced Daniels in the House, called him one of the "icons of state government" in Illinois.
Daniels left his post as leader of the Republicans in the House after a controversy that resulted in his former chief of staff Michael Tristano being convicted of doing campaign work on state time.
Though some of Daniels' family and former colleagues were in attendance Wednesday, Tristano wasn't among them.
"No, we haven't really talked," Daniels said.
"I'm saddened by what happened to Mike," he said. "He was a great public servant. He did his best. I really don't know too much about what happened to him, but I was saddened by that."
Daniels now works in real estate and teaches government at Elmhurst College.
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