Former Speaker Michael Madigan resigns from Illinois House

Chicago News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan released a statement Thursday saying he will resign as state representative at the end of the month.

He didn’t say explicitly why he was resigning the post he has held for 50 years, but blamed a whispering campaign for the loss of trust in him.

Madigan, 78, represents the 22nd District in Chicago and is the longest-serving legislative leader in U.S. history.

He was tarnished by a federal investigation of Statehouse bribery announced last summer that implicated him. Madigan has not been charged with wrongdoing and maintains his innocence.

But he lost his bid for a 19th term as speaker to Hillside Democrat Emanuel “Chris” Welch, who is the first African American to ever hold the position.

The following is the full statement from Michael Madigan:

“Today I am announcing that I will resign as state representative of the 22nd district at the end of the month. It has been my great honor to serve the people of Illinois as speaker of the House and state representative of the 22nd District. This journey would not have been possible without my wonderful wife, Shirley, and children, Lisa, Tiffany, Nicole and Andrew, who have stood by my side year after year, providing their love and support despite the pressure of growing up in the public spotlight. I am fortunate to have them in my life. 

“Fifty years ago, I decided to dedicate my life to public service. Simply put, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I believed then and still do today that it is our duty as public servants to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and help hardworking people build a good life. These ideals have been the cornerstone of my work on behalf of the people of Illinois and the driving force throughout my time in the Illinois House. 

“As speaker, legislator and member of the Illinois Constitutional Convention, I worked to make the General Assembly a co-equal branch of government, ensuring it acted as a check on the power of the governor and the executive branch, especially around a governor’s abuse of the amendatory veto. Many heated battles were fought to keep governors from rewriting legislation sent to them by the General Assembly.

“I am particularly proud of our work to increase the diversity of voices in the House Democratic Caucus to include more women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. In my tenure as Illinois House speaker, we worked to elect representatives across all backgrounds and beliefs to truly represent the interests of the people of our state.

“With the partnership of this diverse and talented group of Illinois Democrats and with our colleagues across the aisle, we were able to level the playing field and strengthen the middle class while workers in other states saw their wages diminished.

“We achieved school funding reform to increase investment for schools in need and address inequalities in our state’s education system. We made Illinois a welcoming state by passing the Illinois Dream Act and providing drivers’ licenses for undocumented residents. 

“We strengthened the rights of workers, increased the minimum wage, expanded access to health care for Illinois’ most vulnerable residents, and protected a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. 

“We upheld the rights of all Illinois residents by passing marriage equality, finally recognizing the rights of men and women to marry the people they love. We enacted criminal justice reforms to break down laws that too often target people of color and led the country in expanding voting rights as other states weakened them.

“Collaborating with leaders in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing, health care and other industries, we built a partnership with job creators to encourage economic development and address crises in our unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems. We also expanded opportunities in the tourism and film industry, created the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority that reinvented McCormick Place and Navy Pier, and established the Illinois Sports Facility Authority that kept the White Sox in Chicago. 

“When were confronted with the Rauner administration and the interests of the wealthy, who sought to weaken unions and the labor movement in Illinois, we stood up for working people.

Rauner went on to plunge our state into a budget crisis, nearly bankrupting social service agencies, eliminating funding for higher education, and racking up billions of dollars in state debt in the process. House Democrats stood as the last line of defense to protect our state from collapse. 

“Under my leadership, we increased transparency of state and local government by creating the Freedom of Information Act and protecting it from attempts to water it down, impeached Rod Blagojevich and repeatedly strengthened the state’s ethics and campaign finance laws.”

“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. 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.”

“My achievements would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of many members of my staff through the years. I thank them for their efforts on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus and the people of Illinois. I also want to thank the many volunteers and supporters who worked on behalf of the residents of the 22nd District. It is with the collective support of many that we have made Illinois a bastion of Democratic values. 

“I leave office at peace with my decision and proud of the many contributions I’ve made to the state of Illinois, and I do so knowing I’ve made a difference.”

Michael J. Madigan

WGN Investigates looked at what he stands to collect in retirement.

Madigan is eligible to collect nearly $7,100 per month, or just over $85,000 a year, according to state records obtained.

The amount is based on his salary and years in office and could increase if Madigan’s other years of government service are included.

Last summer, Madigan was identified in a Justice Department investigation as the beneficiary of a yearslong bribery venture involving ComEd. It has thus far yielded a $200 million fine on the utility giant, a ComEd executive’s guilty plea and indictments of four others, including Madigan’s closest confidante.

Last summer, Madigan was identified in a Justice Department investigation as the beneficiary of a yearslong bribery venture involving ComEd. It has thus far yielded a $200 million fine on the utility giant, a ComEd executive’s guilty plea and indictments of four others, including Madigan’s closest confidante.

Shortly after the Justice Department announced the deferred prosecution agreement with ComEd in July, legislators began backpedaling from Madigan, saying they could not support him. Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other prominent Illinois Democrats blamed him for Election Day losses and sought his ouster as state Democratic Party Chairman.

But Madigan’s leadership had been questioned even before the ComEd allegations surfaced. The scrutiny included his handling of sexual harassment allegations and a scathing report he commissioned that detailed the environment of bullying and intimidation in the speaker’s office under his chief of staff of 25 years.

Madigan’s resignation brought reaction from across the political landscape. Governor J.B. Pritzker praised the former speaker.

“I wish Chairman Madigan, former Rep., former Speaker Madigan well,” Pritzker said. “One thing I will say is when you serve as long and as dedicated a fashion, just in the sheer number of hours the man put into the job, the family can really suffer. It’s a challenge for the spouses and children and grandchildren, and I really want to call them out today and say they deserve kudos for the service that former speaker Madigan did.”

State Republicans who criticized Madigan offered less praise Thursday, saying the former speaker’s control of the state legislature led to political corruption and fiscal crisis.

“For the most part, the Speaker presided over a House of representatives that has led Illinois to have the lowest credit rating of any state, the highest level of unfunded pension liability, unpaid bills, a number of unbalanced budgets and Illinois is a state where people are leaving – our population is declining,” said Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon.

New Illinois House Speaker Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch posted a statement on Twitter that thanked Madigan for his public service, writing in part, “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.”  

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