In what is the strongest action fellow legislators can initiate against a duly elected legislator, I joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and State Representative Ryan Spain as one of three petitioners requesting the formation of a Special Investigating Committee to investigate Speaker Michael J. Madigan. This is a process that has, in the past, been utilized as the first step in removing legislators from office in the Illinois House of Representatives.
Ironically, we invoked Speaker Madigan’s own House Rules (specifically House Rule 91) in initiating the Special Investigating Committee; initiated because of information from the Deferred Prosecution Agreement entered into by ComEd and the United States Attorney’s Office regarding their efforts to reward “Public Official A” with patronage and ghost-payrolling of Madigan loyalists into their corporate structure. This was done in an effort to sway public policy in favor of their corporation’s financial position in the “free market.”
This Special Investigating Committee process was initiated previously against former Democrat legislators Luis Arroyo and Derrick Smith. This is an appropriate and, thankfully, rarely used, step, in light of the fact that Speaker Madigan has not yet resigned from his position of authority. However, for the Illinois House to initiate these proceedings against the longest-serving Speaker with over 50 years of public service, is sufficient to say unprecedented and unusual.
The goal of this committee is not to interfere in any way with the ongoing federal investigation encircling Speaker Madigan. Federal prosecutors continue to do their work. Just this past Friday, a Vice President and Madigan loyalist employed by ComEd was charged criminally as Feds continue to ferret out the details and charges within this public-private partnership of self-dealing.
None of these revelations come as any surprise to most Northwest Illinois taxpayers. Even some local progressives have called for Speaker Madigan to resign. The need for ethics reform in the face of bald-faced corruption is an issue raised continually in my town hall meetings, tele-town hall meetings, phone calls and letters from Northwest Illinois constituents. One constant over the past 50 years of corrupt public policy remains- Michael J. Madigan.
I will also give credit where credit is due — Governor JB Pritzker even agreed this investigative committee should move forward and the Speaker owes taxpayers answers. We all have known for a long time that we pay a “corruption tax” in Illinois. Many assume what they think is the worst about politicians — that lobbyists own politicians. Very few, though, have considered that even worse is the notion that politicians own lobbyists and they sometimes operate covertly to jointly fleece the public. As details emerge, a picture will be painted that will have many wondering how deep the corruption goes.
May we begin to find the answer to these questions and put an end to a system that has systematically enabled this type of bad behavior. We owe a full and thorough investigation to the beleaguered taxpayers of Illinois. They demand accountability and change. Whether that accountability is delivered by the Federal Government, by the Illinois House or by both, will be at least partly determined by the appointed members of this Special Investigating Committee.