Democratic lawmakers should insist Madigan resign

By Grant Wehrli

Guest columnist

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan's obsession with power has been well-documented throughout the years. But the recent news of how he handled sexual harassment allegations within his organization illustrates perfectly the Madigan playbook: punish those who dare to cross him, protect those who are willing to kiss the ring and sweep issues under the rug.

For example, between 2005 and 2010, Speaker Madigan successfully blocked attempts to allow McCormick Place to restructure bonds. The reason for his opposition was that the then-McCormick Place CEO had dared to fire one of his allies. Madigan's vendetta came at the cost of nearly $500 million to taxpayers.

In 2010, Speaker Madigan supported the $54 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative in a blatant attempt to bolster Gov. Quinn's re-election. To say that this program was a disaster is an understatement. This was a reckless, irresponsible, and unethical election-year move that falls directly at the feet of the speaker for allowing it to move forward unchecked.

In 2013, it came to light that Speaker Madigan asked the then-Metra CEO to give promotions and pay raises to political allies. When the CEO refused to succumb to the speaker's demands, he was forced out by the RTA Board under pressure from Madigan. This Madigan-led scandal ended up costing Metra $1.3 million by the time it was over.

In another example of sweeping an issue under the rug, Speaker Madigan has repeatedly come to the defense of Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino, who violated state campaign finance laws when he used campaign funds for personal use when he was a state representative. The speaker refuses to allow my resolution calling for Mautino's removal for a vote to protect his ally - heedless of that fact that the auditor general is supposed to provide independent oversight over the use of public funds, and thus anyone who occupies this important position must have a reputation that is beyond reproach.

And now we find that when faced with allegations of sexual harassment within his political organization, Speaker Madigan slow-rolled the "investigation," only responding to the allegations hours before the news broke. And, rather than express contrition that he failed the victim in this case so completely, his allies instead have attempted to retaliate, discredit and intimidate her.

Speaker Madigan recently sent a letter to House Democrats that said, " … I would never condone, sweep under the rug or refuse to take any step to ensure we did not eradicate any behavior of this kind." Anyone who believes this is kidding themselves. Speaker Madigan has built his kingdom on retaliation and intimidation. House Democrats who have blindly supported Mike Madigan by voting for him for speaker should be on notice: they are culpable for his transgressions. They have enabled his decades-long reign and its accompanying abuses.

The time is up for Speaker Madigan. If House Democrats want to live up to their job titles they will ask Speaker Madigan to resign immediately. Speaker Madigan says that we must "change the culture," so follow his advice and show him the door.

Republican Grant Wehrli, of Naperville, is Illinois state representative from the 41st District.

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