Madigan Loses Key Support To Keep Speaker’s Gavel After Allies Indicted, But Again Defends Himself

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Credit Hannah Meisel/NPR Illinois

House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) is in jeopardy of losing his bid for a 19th term as speaker when the new General Assembly is inaugurated in January after three more members of his caucus publicly said they wouldn’t support him Thursday morning.

The additional loss in support comes after U.S. Attorney John Lausch dropped an indictment on longtime Madigan confidante and Commonwealth Edison lobbyist Mike McClain, along with two other longtime ComEd lobbyists and the ex-CEO of ComEd’s parent company. The Wednesday evening indictment further clarifies a widespread bribery scheme dating back to at least 2011, which was first made public in a deferred prosecution agreement between the feds and ComEd in July.

According to both the deferred prosecution agreement and Wednesday’s indictment, prosecutors allege McClain and the others — including ex-ComEd Vice President Fidel Marquez, who pleaded guilty in September — orchestrated the bribery scheme in order to curry favor with Madigan.

More: Key Madigan Ally, ComEd Lobbyists And Official Indicted In Federal Bribery Scheme

The three new defectors bring the number of House Democrats who say they won’t support Madigan to an insurmountable 15 if they all stick to their prior statements about the speaker needing to step aside. When the 102nd General Assembly is seated early next year, House Democrats will number 73; Madigan needs 60 to win another term as speaker.

Beginning after ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement was dropped in July, a contingent of House Democrats began publicly saying they could not support Madigan as speaker anymore.

So far, those members include:

Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago)
Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego)
Terra Costa Howard (D-Lombard)
Anne Stava-Murray (D-Naperville)
Maurice West (D-Rockford)
Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview)
Lindsey LaPointe (D-Chicago)
Bob Morgan (D-Deerfield)
Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park)
Ann Williams (D-Chicago)
Anna Moeller (D-Elgin)
Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston)
Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago)
Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook)
Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake)

Guzzardi, Carroll and Yingling made their positions known on Thursday morning. Conroy, Williams, Moeller and Gabel recently sent Madigan a letter asking him not to run again. On Thursday, the four clarified they would not vote for Madigan as speaker in January.

Kifowit last month announced she would challenge Madigan for the speaker’s gavel, but she has not garnered much public support from any of her House colleagues.

Madigan on Thursday morning issued a lengthy and defiant statement, repeating much of what he wrote in a September letter to members of a Special Investigative Committee initiated by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), which is meant to look into any potential wrongdoing by Madigan in connection with the ComEd bribery scheme.

Madigan declined to appear in front of the committee, and so far the body has only held one substantive hearing, during which ComEd’s compliance officer was grilled for hours, revealing few new insights into the investigation.

The Speaker again Thursday defended himself, characterizing the indictment as no smoking gun pointing back to him, and claiming that if he had known about any attempts by ComEd or its lobbyists to influence him, he “would have made every effort to put a stop to it.”

“After a lengthy investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged, but of course has not proven, that certain ComEd employees, consultants, and lobbyists allegedly conspired with one another in the hope of somehow influencing me in my official capacity,” Madigan wrote. “Let me be clear: if that attempt ever happened, it was never made known to me. If it had been known to me, it would have been profoundly unwelcome. Nothing in either this indictment or in the earlier filings by the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges otherwise.”

The Speaker did not address his defectors, but did direct words to his detractors.

“I anticipate some will be disappointed that I was not a party to this indictment and find it difficult to swallow the fact that I have not been accused of or charged with any wrongdoing,” Madigan wrote. “These same individuals will likely claim this indictment should end my tenure as a public official, even though it alleges no criminal conduct on my part, nor does it allege I had knowledge of any criminal conduct by others."

This post will be updated.