* From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch…
The longest-serving leader of any state legislative body in American history may not hold that post much longer. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan faces rebellion by his own Democratic majority for his entanglement in a federal bribery probe of utility giant Commonwealth Edison. Madigan hasn’t been charged and denies wrongdoing, but rank-and-file lawmakers are taking the once-unthinkable stance that he should lose his speakership. He should. This old-time powerbroker has become a distraction to a state that already has enough problems.
The federal government has indicted four former ComEd officials, including lobbyist Michael McClain, an ex-legislator and longtime Madigan confidante. Prosecutors allege the officials conspired to put Madigan associates and interns on ComEd’s payroll and to put a Madigan-chosen candidate on ComEd’s board of directors to curry favor with Madigan on legislation regarding rate increases and other utility issues. The four pleaded not guilty last week. ComEd itself has entered a deferred-prosecution agreement, admitting “wrongful conduct,” paying a $200 million fine and promising to cooperate with the government.
Madigan’s involvement in the case has led to defections by, to date, 19 Democratic lawmakers who say they won’t support his bid to retain his speakership next month. Unless some of them relent — which would be political suicide after publicly vowing to take that stand — Madigan won’t have the required 60 votes to keep his post. […]
Contrary to Republican mythology, Illinois’ worst-in-the nation pension debt and resulting chronic budget crisis is a mess created by both parties over decades. But Madigan has been in a key role for most of it — and now he seeks to maintain that role under the shadow of scandal. House Democrats must not allow that. It’s time to return this hammer to the toolbox.
* Meanwhile, here’s Amanda Vinicky…
Sick of Illinois’ storied history of corruption?
A pair of Republicans say they’ve got a remedy: Create a pathway for voters to initiate the recall of their elected official, midterm. […]
To recall statewide constitutional officers, the auditor general, speaker or senate president, Barickman and Batinick propose requiring signatures from 12% of the voters who cast votes for governor in the prior election in order to initiate the recall process; the question would have to clear 60% in order for an official to be ousted via recall.
It’s unlikely it’ll ever get near that point.
Lawmakers are notoriously reticent to approve measures that could imperil their own political futures.