(The Center Square) – Despite growing calls for his resignation, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said late Thursday that he has no intentions of stepping down.
“I understand that the last couple of weeks have been difficult for our caucus and party, and I have had many candid conversations with members of the Democratic caucus on this matter,” Madigan said in a statement according to multiple media reports, referring to a sweeping federal corruption probe in which ComEd admitted to currying favor with him in exchange for favorable legislation.
“The feedback is positive and demonstrates continued support for me and my leadership roles," Madigan said. "I have no plans to resign. I have never made a legislative decision with improper motives and any claim otherwise is unfounded.”
The statement was made after several lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle said it was time for the longtime Democratic speaker to step down.
“I have long been an outspoken critic of Speaker Madigan, but I have always stopped short of calling for his resignation, deferring to many of my colleagues’ concerns about due process," state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said in part in a Thursday statement.
"I cannot pretend that we have another minute to wait and see, or look the other way and hope for the best," Cassidy continued. "The stakes are too high. Speaker Madigan must step down from his leadership roles, both in the House and in our party.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois released a deferred prosecution agreement with utility ComEd that implicated Madigan.
Madigan has not been charged with a crime.
The federal investigation brought renewed focus on the state's public corruption problems. ComEd agreed to pay $200 million and cooperate with prosecutors and investigators.
Democratic state Reps. Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn and Anne Stava-Murray have also called for Madigan's resignation along with Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego.
Illinois House Minority Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, released a statement Thursday calling on Madigan, D-Chicago, to step down immediately from his legislative seat and for the legislature to vote on a new speaker.
“Federal charges outlined in the ComEd prosecution highlight a scheme solely for the benefit of Speaker Madigan,” Durkin said. “Madigan is unable to execute his responsibilities as Speaker of the Illinois House.
“I call for the immediate resignation of Speaker Madigan from the Illinois House of Representatives, and will be filing a resolution to have the House Chamber vote on a new Speaker immediately,” Durkin said.
That would require a special session, which can be called by either the governor, the Senate President or the Speaker of the House.
Asked Thursday if he would rely on Madigan to call a special session, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he’s not relying on Madigan but didn’t say if he would call one to focus on ethics.
“There’s also more that we need to learn and the U.S. Attorney clearly is on a path here. We’re going to learn more,” Pritzker said. “There’s no doubt about it. And from that information, it will inform us on how to write the laws that will prevent that in the future.”