Illinois House Republicans renew calls for ethics reform following Madigan arraignment

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 8:42 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Illinois House Republicans are renewing calls for ethics reform in Springfield after former House Speaker Michael Madigan and lobbyist Mike McClain were arraigned on superseding corruption charges Tuesday morning. Neither man appeared for the court hearing as they waived their right to appear for the arraignment and pled not guilty last week to the conspiracy charges related to a corruption scheme with AT&T Illinois.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said two of the largest publicly held employers in Illinois have now admitted to bribing the former Speaker. Durkin said it is fascinating that the entire House Democratic Caucus “chose to bury their heads in the sand” and block any attempts to see the truth of the corruption allegations.

Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch chaired the Special Investigative Committee looking into Madigan’s alleged involvement in the corruption scheme with Commonwealth Edison. Durkin noted that Welch denied requests to subpoena Madigan and McClain to appear before the committee even though U.S. Attorney John Lausch approved having both men testify.

“Speaker Welch has been conspicuously silent about these charges against his political mentor. Welch was handpicked by Madigan,” Durkin said. “How convenient was that based on his blocking for Madigan at the special investigation committee?”

Durkin feels that it is time to revisit the ethics reform bill that was passed and signed into law last year. While the law addresses concerns over corruption and conflicts of interest, House Republicans say it is a sham and lawmakers should be out of the business of lobbying.

While Madigan is no longer Speaker, Durkin said the 80-year-old will continue to “call the shots” for House Democrats. Leader Durkin said most people across the state believe that enough is enough. He stressed that all lawmakers need to walk away from the culture of corruption.

Welch stated on March 2 that the allegations against Madigan needed to be handled in a court of law, completely separate from the legislature.

“As is evident by this federal indictment, the full weight of the justice system was needed to ensure all charges are investigated properly and thoroughly,” Welch stated. “At my direction, the Office of the Speaker has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so.”

Rep. Mike Marron (R-Fithian) said he is glad Madigan and McClain have been exposed for corruption as he argues the people of Illinois deserve much better from their leaders in Springfield. Marron is the lead sponsor of a proposal to ban lawmakers from serving as lobbyists and empower the Legislative Inspector General to have subpoena power for any investigation without approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission.

“Part of the problem is the rules that we pass empower one person to bottleneck all this stuff that a majority of the public believes in,” Marron said. “These are nonpartisan issues. This isn’t Republican versus Democrat. Everybody should be able to get behind good government.”

Marron said he believes that there are good people on the Democratic side of the aisle who would like to see his plan move forward. Although, House Bill 2575 only received support from 13 Republican co-sponsors last year. The proposal has been locked in the House Rules Committee since March 27, 2021. Marron said he wishes Democrats had the courage to stand up with Republicans and make reforms possible.

The next court date for Madigan and McClain is Nov. 17.

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