Former Illinois House Speaker resigns amid bribery investigation

Former Illinois House Speaker resigns amid bribery investigation
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Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) is resigning from the state legislature at the end of the month amid a bribery investigation.

“Today I am announcing that I will resign as state representative of the 22nd district at the end of the month,” Madigan said in a statement published by WGN Radio in Chicago. “It has been my great honor to serve the people of Illinois as speaker of the House and state representative of the 22nd District.”

Madigan has faced scrutiny during a federal probe over a bribery scheme in which Commonwealth Edison allegedly sought to win Madigan’s favor.

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Four people connected to the scheme, including a close confidant of Madigan, have pleaded not guilty in federal court. However, Madigan has not been charged with a crime, and has denied wrongdoing or knowledge of the scheme.

His office previously faced scrutiny amid a "Me Too” investigation involving one of his top aides.

“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,” Madigan added in his statement. “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 was House Speaker for 35 of the last 37 years, and only gave up the gavel during a two-year period in the mid-1990s when Republicans controlled the chamber.

He first began serving in the state legislature in 1971, and he currently chairs the Illinois Democratic Party

The Illinois Democrat suspended his most recent campaign for Speaker after he fell short of the votes needed to keep him in power.  Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D) is currently serving as the first Black Illinois House Speaker.

Welch acknowledged Madigan’s resignation in a statement posted to Facebook.

“As of last month, Michael Madigan has dedicated 50 years of service to the Illinois House of Representatives. I thank the former Speaker for his sincere and meaningful contributions to our state,” Welch said.

“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,” he said.

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy slammed Madigan's resignation in an emailed statement, saying his 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," he said.