Illinois GOP Slams Press Corps for Failure to Press Democratic Governor on Corruption of Top Ally

Federal investigators say that Illinois House speaker Michael Madigan took bribes from top utility

J.B. Pritzker
J.B. Pritzker / Getty Images
July 25, 2020

The Republican Party of Illinois slammed the Chicago press corps for the news media's failure to press the state's Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, about his relationship with the Illinois House speaker at the center of a federal bribery investigation.

The open letter from the state GOP argues that the news media is holding the state's high-ranking democratic politicians to a "different standard" than it has Republicans mired in scandal, pointing to their relentless coverage of the corruption that engulfed former governor Rod Blagojevich.

"More than a decade ago, when we learned that [former governor] Rod Blagojevich was ‘Public Official A,’ the Chicago press corps was relentless," the letter said. "But for some reason, a decade later, Mike Madigan and J.B. Prtizker get a different standard."

Blagojevich was convicted on federal corruption charges and President Donald Trump commuted his sentence earlier this year.

The Illinois GOP argues that the scandal inching closer to Madigan deserves similarly aggressive media coverage.

Federal prosecutors revealed in mid-July that the state’s largest public utility, Commonwealth Edison, bribed the House speaker, Michael Madigan with an estimated $1.32 million in benefits in exchange for pushing legislation that benefited the company. Madison is the longest-serving House speaker in the country and also chairs the Illinois Democratic party.

Pritzker is a close Madigan ally -- the two worked together to push a Democratic agenda through the state legislature last year -- and the state GOP is expressing outrage at the news media's failure to press Pritzker for answers about his relationship with Madigan.

"He is a political ally of Mike Madigan who has invested millions of dollars in Madigan-controlled campaign funds," the GOP said of Pritzker. "He is the highest-ranking Democrat in a party that Madigan chairs ... The people of Illinois need a press corps that will hold their leaders accountable."