More Democrats seek Madigan's ouster as speaker amid ComEd scandal
Two suburban state representatives joined the limited ranks of Democrats calling for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan to resign from leadership right away amid a swelling federal corruption investigation.
"I demand you to do the right thing and step down immediately," Democratic Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Aurora said Thursday in a letter to Madigan.
And Democratic Rep. Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn said Wednesday in a statement, "The corruption and unethical behavior that have been revealed by this investigation make it impossible for Rep. Madigan to continue in his leadership roles."
In a July 17 agreement with the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois, ComEd admitted to bribery and colluding with a state official, identified as the speaker, to get laws enabling rate hikes passed in exchange for hiring and awarding contracts to Madigan cronies.
Madigan says he did not commit any crimes and is hunkering down in dual roles as speaker and leader of the Illinois Democratic Party.
Madigan "has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and has engaged in no wrongdoing here," a spokeswoman said.
The political veteran has not only a massive war chest but also the legislative clout that can doom or propel a state representative's bills. Many state Democrats are either silent on his future or have sought Madigan's ouster predicated on whether he is found guilty of a crime.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday reiterated his stance that "if the allegations are true, the speaker should be called to resign. This is a standard I think is reasonable."
Kifowit said ComEd's evidence showed "that you (Madigan) have compromised the integrity of the office of speaker of the House and undermined the public trust."
Costa Howard said, "Even if he was not directly involved in this scheme, these accusations clearly demonstrate that the speaker's leadership has failed.
Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake was among the first lawmakers to call for Madigan to go. "It is clear from the contents of this case that (Madigan) was intimately involved in both the planning and execution of a long-standing bribery scheme with Illinois' largest utility company," she said July 17.
And on July 20, Democrat state Rep. Anna Stava-Murray of Naperville said ComEd's admissions were "horrifying," and Madigan "absolutely ... should step down and resign from both his positions.
Many of the Democrats seeking the speaker's resignation are women, reflecting dissatisfaction with Madigan's handling of sexual harassment problems at the Capitol previously.
This week, two high-ranking Chicago Democrats broke ranks. Sen. Iris Martinez called for Madigan to step down as Illinois Democratic Party chairman, and Sen. Heather Steans asked the speaker to resign from both positions.
Meanwhile, Republicans are seeking legislative remedies.
On Thursday, state Rep. Grant Wehrli of Naperville co-sponsored a bill to strip Madigan of his title as speaker.
"He has brought shame onto the position of speaker of the House and onto the House of Representatives," Wehrli said in a statement.
In a related move, state Sen. Don DeWitte of St. Charles is co-sponsoring a resolution to give a $200 million fine imposed on ComEd by prosecutors back to customers. The resolution urges Congress to redistribute the fine.
"It is only appropriate that these funds be paid directly to Illinois ratepayers, who ultimately paid for ComEd's illegal activity," DeWitte said in a statement.