Pritzker says Madigan indictment is abhorrent, calls for more ethics reform

Gov. JB Pritzker responds to questions about former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan's...
Gov. JB Pritzker responds to questions about former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan's indictment.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 2:59 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Gov. J.B. Pritzker faced many questions Thursday morning about the indictment of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. While he initially addressed reports of the charges Wednesday afternoon, the governor took time to stress that “pay to play” politics must end in Illinois.

Pritzker said Madigan must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The Democrat feels the indictment is an important step in cleaning up Illinois and restoring public trust in government.

The governor said he last spoke with Madigan on March 1 to let the former Speaker know there would be changes to the Illinois Arts Council. Madigan’s wife, Shirley Madigan, has chaired that council since 1983.

Pritzker also explained that he was interviewed by federal prosecutors to discuss interactions he had with Madigan in the past. The governor said he fully cooperated and answered all of their questions.

“Ultimately, every person in elected office is responsible for doing the right thing and not lining their own pockets,” Pritzker said. “I’m fully committed to eradicating the scourge of corruption from our political system.”

The governor also defended current Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch who chaired the special legislative investigation into Madigan’s alleged wrongdoing in 2020. He feels lawmakers were right to defer the investigation for federal authorities to make a case against Madigan.

Pritzker also said he never had interactions with Madigan outside of discussions about legislation moving within the General Assembly. Meanwhile, the governor emphasized that the culture of corruption in Springfield must come to an end. He called Madigan’s actions abhorrent.

“If we run into situations where we think something is being done that is improper, please call it out. Please let people know,” Pritzker said. “And of course, vote those people out. If they’re not caught doing something wrong, they need to go.”

Pritzker also said lawmakers need to address ethics and lobbying in the Capitol. Both chambers passed a plan last year prohibiting executive branch officials and legislators from lobbying for six months after they leave office. It also closed the consultant loophole and created a uniform statement of economic interests form.

Pritzker said Madigan’s indictment made it clear that there is still more work to do.

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