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Pick a lane, please

Friday, Aug 25, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Center Square

At a late Thursday afternoon news conference, Deputy Illinois House Republican Leader Ryan Spain and Assistant Leader Patrick Windhorst wondered how many corruption convictions would it to take for Democrats to get serious about reform at the state capitol.

“Another day, another conviction in federal court,” Spain said, adding that “cleaning up the crisis of corruption that continues to plague the state of Illinois” needs to be a top priority.

Spain and Windhorst called for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to call a special session so lawmakers can work on comprehensive ethics reform.

“How many indictments is too many .. how many guilty verdicts is it going to take to have Democrats join Republicans” in ending the culture of corruption in Springfield, Windhorst said.

* Leader Windhorst was asked at that press conference, “What specific ethics reform would address Mapes’ case of lying to a grand jury and the problems with harassment and intimidation that happened when he was chief of staff?“…

One thing that I think is clear is that Mike Madigan exerted almost absolute control over the House of Representatives. That’s done, as leader Spain referenced, because of the rules that were in place, the laws that are in place. Those things needed to be changed and reformed. Speaker Madigan had such control over Tim Mapes that, even when offered immunity, all he had to do was tell the truth and he would escape prosecution. But instead he lied. That shows the amount of control and power Speaker Madigan had.

So we have to put things into the law and make changes to our rules that will limit the power of one person. You know, there’s the saying that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And that’s what we’re seeing, absolute power in one man has corrupted that institution and the leadership of that institution, absolutely.

I don’t disagree that more rule changes are necessary in both chambers. I have long argued that the chamber leaders should not choose committee chairs, vice chairs and minority spokespersons. That should, in my opinion, be done by a caucus vote. I’m sure we can all think of something that could be changed.

* But Mike Madigan and Tim Mapes are long gone. That sort of velvet hammer rule no longer exists. I mean, just ask House Republican Leader Tony McCombie, who said this during the Illinois State Fair last week

The session was complete chaos. And for the first time in decades - in decades - the Democrats didn’t have the capability to negotiate and navigate the budget and they gave up control to the Senate Democrats. Speaker Welch showed that he is the master of mismanagement.

Please pardon all transcription errors.


  1. - Roadrager - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:08 am:

    Illinois Republicans again following the lead of their national brethren, who will tell you that Joe Biden is a doddering, senile fool who only occasionally knows what day of the week it is, and in the next breath how he is the shadowy, cunning mastermind pulling all the strings to strip away this country from real Americans.

  2. - Roman - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:08 am:

    Good point on McCombie’s state fair jab.

    Reminds me of the often contradictory positions the Tribune would take on Madigan. They’d write editorial after editorial complaining about his dictatorial style, but then would urge him to use that power to enact policies they favored, like pension reform.

  3. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:18 am:

    Of course it was complete chaos what did you expect?

    The Illinois Democratic Party is now dominated by radical progressives

    The “reasonable and moderate” leader is now indicted

  4. - H-W - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:22 am:

    As presented here, Spain and Windhorst are not wrong in suggesting there should be consideration and intentional efforts to reign in ethics violations and abuse of authority.

    But such considerations must address all potential instances, not just some. To do otherwise makes this request political, and will only lead to “what-aboutism” claims that only assure a race to the bottom.

    IF serious, and if bicameral, bipartisan, and supported by all leaders, I think the basic request makes sense. There does in fact exist a problem that can be addressed openly and honestly without resorting to “who is worse” debates.

  5. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:22 am:

    ===The “reasonable and moderate” leader is now indicted ===


    LP defending the indicted Mike Madigan as reasonable and moderate. Now I’ve heard everything.

  6. - Flyin'Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:23 am:

    “The session was complete chaos.”

    As opposed to the rock solid, steady hand on the wheel leadership offered by the GOP.

  7. - Perrid - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:23 am:

    Just like on the national stage with Biden, the GOP accuses Democrats of both incompetence and being corrupt, Machiavellian puppet masters, all at the same time.

    Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

  8. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:28 am:

    ===leader is now indicted===

    This blog is Illinois centric, let’s not bring up things in Georgia and party leaders.

    Diversity of party brings conflicting and challenging agendas, as that party pulls in one direction.

    I dunno how healthy a party can be with 100% fealty, be it to a cult leader or the platform of that party being “whatever that leader says”

    I’m old enough to remember when 80% agreement was both “too much” and “not far enough” but never disqualifying.

    A caucus leadership can’t be an “iron fist, disorganized mess… that is rutterlessly driving in one direction”

    Here I thought only legislation had some crazy gibberish…

  9. - Gravitas - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:33 am:

    “This blog is Illinois centric, let’s not bring up things in Georgia and party leaders.”

    Amen to that.

    Yesterday, many comments tried to compare apples and orange men in relation to the trial of Tim Mapes.

    Sticking to Illinois politics is a better approach.

  10. - Annonin' - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:34 am:

    Perhaps someone could ask Rep. Spain to explain why he is still dancing around the Maypole with Confessed Congressman LaHood & Family? Or is lying and filing false documents concerning “loans” from some oil tycoon OK? Just askin’


  11. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:34 am:

    The irony against national news is top shelf.

    To us here in Illinois.

    =absolute power in one man=

    His own party did eventually vote him out of his leadership spot.

    Did it take too long? Maybe. Sure. But it happened. Madigan was shown the door by his own.

  12. - Big Dipper - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:35 am:

    If all the ILGOP can offer is blasting people who have been out of office for years then they are not making a compelling case for voters to replace current elected officials.

  13. - TNR - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:36 am:

    It seems Speaker Welch is giving his caucus, the media, and to a certain extent the Republicans, exactly what they called for in the wake of Madigan: a less controlling and more transparent form of leadership. That will lead to less decisive conditions where the trains often don’t run on time, which is annoying. But it’s better than the alternative.

  14. - Pundent - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 10:51 am:

    The ILGOP is once again proving the prophecy that they wouldn’t know what to do once Madigan was gone. They miss him more than the Dems do. Seems more than a bit ironic considering National events.

  15. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 11:11 am:

    ===Sticking to Illinois politics is a better approach.===

    … and without any irony, you missed that I did passively make a point to the national.

    Reading for comprehension is important to understanding where irony is… like the gibberish that allows two lanes of thought, almost “rudderlessly driven in one direction of silly”.

  16. - Payback - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 11:27 am:

    Sen. Curran’s comment is legit, “We must do more to empower local law enforcement officials with the same investigative tools that Federal Authorities possess, including wiretapping and grand jury authority.”

    Illinois is corrupt by design, because the state AG is weak, by design. With leaders Welch and Harmon both lawyers, they should be able to draft a statewide grand jury act for political corruption. AG Raoul’s chief of staff Nathalina Hudson is supposedly a former AUSA, I’m sure she could help out.

  17. - Hannibal Lecter - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 11:33 am:

    === With leaders Welch and Harmon both lawyers, they should be able to draft a statewide grand jury act for political corruption. ===

    At a time where the legal system is being used to achieve political ends, this seems to me to be a risk for abuse. I don’t trust the political bodies to do this impartially.

  18. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 11:44 am:

    === I have long argued that the chamber leaders should not choose committee chairs, vice chairs and minority spokespersons. That should, in my opinion, be done by a caucus vote. ===

    To Rich’s point, there is nothing prohibiting House Republicans from unilaterally adopting this reform, and probably most reforms to the legislative body.

    It’s fake outrage, all for show.

  19. - Big Dipper - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 12:07 pm:

    ==Nathalina Hudson is supposedly a former AUSA==

    Are you questioning the credentials of a Black woman for some reason?

  20. - Lurker - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 12:17 pm:

    “ LP defending the indicted Mike Madigan as reasonable and moderate. Now I’ve heard everything.”

    Don’t take it too far Rich as LP thinks a recently former president is “reasonable, moderate, and sane” LOL

  21. - Back to the Future - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 12:29 pm:

    Thinking Hannibal Lecter makes a good point. Best to leave these corruption investigations in hands of the Feds and local elected States Attorney Offices.
    This constant corruption is embarrassing and certainly harmful to the public. Of course, guilt by association is not a good road to go down; but In terms of state corruption issues, I think we should keep in mind that Pritzker would not be Governor and Welsh would not be Speaker without Madigan’s support. Hope not, but I suspect that we will find lot’s of “bones” buried in those yards for the Feds to dig up over the coming years. Also thinking it will be more ”legacy” stuff than those two having corruption issues.
    One glimmer of hope was when Team Pritzker sent Mike McClain out the door. The state sure could use more judgment calls like that one. That was a good call by the Governor’s staff and should have send a strong message to the government folks and lobbyists that times were changing.

  22. - Give Us Barabbas - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 1:39 pm:

    Those legislators didn’t get away with their corruption: they were tried and convicted, both Dems and Republicans. Which could make the case that the system works. At least some of the time. Can we do things to be proactive against more corruption, sure. Members of *both* parties could have done that all along. The fact they haven’t, suggests the complainers don’t mean it, really, and are just using the event to promote themselves so *they* can be the ones controlling the spigot once they con enough voters.

  23. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 2:56 pm:

    From the Center Square piece:
    – In a statement, House Republican Leader Tony McCombie echoed his colleagues comments. –

    Perhaps someone could tell Center Square their pronouns are wrong.

  24. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 3:35 pm:

    === Illinois is corrupt by design, because the state AG is weak, by design. With leaders Welch and Harmon both lawyers, they should be able to draft a statewide grand jury act for political corruption ===

    Google “Operation Safe Roads.”

  25. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 3:50 pm:

    ===the state AG is weak, by design===

    An AG can at any time ask a local state’s attorney to use a grand jury for any purpose. Lisa Madigan did that in Adams County, for instance.

    Also, I think the feds have stopped every AG probe into corruption during my career. Lisa Madigan, for instance, was building a case against Rod Blagojevich involving very real corruption. The feds asked her to stop and had her send them all her files. She complied and they took the easy way out by putting a wire on RRB and all of LM’s work was disregarded.

  26. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 25, 23 @ 3:54 pm:

    If you see corruption, be it in your agency, in state government, county/local government… call the Feds.

    This idea, “boy if they knew”

    Just tell them.

    “But then there’s retaliation”?

    Cops always are asking for anonymous tips.

    You know sometin’, yet say nutin’, you’re part of the problem.


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