Scandal-Plagued Illinois Dem Michael Madigan Drops Bid for Leadership Post

Madigan, the state's House speaker since 1983, is entwined in federal bribery investigation

Michael Madigan
Michael Madigan / Getty Images
• January 12, 2021 2:50 pm


Scandal-plagued Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D.) suspended his campaign for speaker on Monday after failing to secure necessary support from his Democratic colleagues.

Madigan fell short of the 60 votes he needed to keep his speakership in a party meeting on Sunday, preceding Wednesday's House vote for speaker. Support from his colleagues faltered after federal prosecutors implicated Madigan in a bribery scheme in July.

Commonwealth Edison, Illinois's largest electric utility provider, allegedly gave perks including jobs and contracts worth $1.32 million to Madigan's associates in exchange for his support in the state legislature, according to federal authorities. A federal court confirmed that Madigan was the "high-level elected official for the state of Illinois" that investigators referred to in their report.

Michael McClain, a close ally of the speaker, was charged in November along with former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore and two others in connection with the scheme. McClain worked with Madigan in the state house for decades before joining ComEd. Madigan has not faced charges as of yet.

The speaker is one of a handful of Democrats in Illinois's state legislature who have been implicated in crimes in recent years.

Former state senator Terry Link pleaded guilty to tax fraud in September after he underreported his income on his 2016 tax filings. State representative Luis Arroyo was charged with bribery in October 2019 after Link cooperated with the FBI and wore a wire to collect evidence against Arroyo.

In August 2019, federal prosecutors charged state senator Thomas Cullerton for an embezzlement scheme with a labor union. Months later, former state senator Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty to taking bribes from a red-light camera company.

Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker (D.), who has worked closely with the speaker over the years to pursue the Democrats' agenda in the state, faces an investigation over a $331,000 tax break scheme that involved removing toilets from his mansion prior to an inspection in order to have the house deemed uninhabitable and win a property tax break.

Madigan is the longest-serving state house speaker in American history, holding the position since 1983. He was first elected to state office in 1971 and, despite the investigation, remains the chairman of the state’s Democratic Party.

Published under: Democrats, Illinois, Michael Madigan