(The Center Square) – Republican members of the Illinois Legislature are using the cloud over Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to go after those who get Madigan-connected campaign money.
The Democratic Party of Illinois, which Madigan is the chairman of, called the Republican’s criticism “noise.” Madigan was implicated in a deferred prosecution agreement prosecutors reached with ComEd. Madigan has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime. ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine for its role in the bribery and patronage scandal designed to curry favor with Madigan to get favorable legislation passed in Springfield
Madigan, D-Chicago, controls four campaign funds. Observers have said Madigan’s influence comes from shifting that money in between funds and to Democratic party members or those looking to run for the legislature.
After rattling off Democratic legislators and former legislators who have either been arrested, charged or pled guilty to corruption in the past year, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said the Democratic Party of Illinois, or DPI, should be labeled a corrupt organization and called it Madigan Inc.
“Mike Madigan runs DPI like he runs his caucus with absolute control,” Durkin said. “A handful of his members have asked for a resignation while the majority have not and will continue to feed from the DPI trough.”
A spokesperson for the DPI called Durkin’s comments “noise.”
“We’re still trying to make sense of Leader Durkin’s comment ourselves,” DPI spokesperson Eileen Boyce said, “but one thing is certain – the Democratic Party and its leaders have fought to provide the people of our state and our country with access to healthcare, living wages, civil rights, affordable housing and clean air and water – all priorities that President Trump and former Republican Governor Bruce Rauner have worked to destroy.”
Friends of Michael J Madigan closed out the second quarter of this year with $13.6 million. The fund associated with Democratic Majority, which Madigan chairs, has $4.3 million. The Democratic Party of Illinois has $2.4 million. The 13th Ward Democratic Org has $2.2 million. That brings the total to $22.5 at the close of the most recent quarter.
State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said Madigan put a lot of money against him in the last election nearly two years ago.
“I expect to have somewhere between $2 and $4 million spent against me again this cycle, it was close to $2 million last time. I’m sure they’re going to top that,” Batinick said. “We just have to reject this. It’s disgusting.”
Batinick demanded his Democratic opponent Harry Benton denounce what Batinick called Madigan’s “ill-gotten gains.” Benton couldn’t be reached for comment.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat who used more than $150 million in the 2018 election to defeat the Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner, said he will support Democrats.
“I’ve supported candidates, state Senators, statehouse members, and others that are running and I’ll continue to do that,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker was asked Monday if he would be giving any of his money to Madigan-controlled campaign funds.
“That’s not something I intend to do,” Pritzker said.
While Pritzker has an estimated wealth of more than $3 billion, his campaign fund JB for Governor has around $745,000. However, the fund Vote Yes For Fairness, which supports the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot to change the state’s flat income tax to a structure with higher rates on higher earners got $51.5 million from Pritzker in late June.
As of the end of June, the Vote Yes for Fairness fund has already spent $461,000 in payroll, “community outreach consulting” payments of $10,000, insurance costs and marketing.