Republicans call Madigan indictment a ‘dark day’ in Illinois history

State Representative Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) speaks on the floor of the Illinois House.
State Representative Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) speaks on the floor of the Illinois House.(WGEM)
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 7:12 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Illinois Republicans are calling former Speaker Michael Madigan’s indictment a dark mark on Illinois’ history, but they are not surprised with the result.

Madigan is charged with 22 counts including racketeering conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and attempted extortion as laid out in a 100-plus-page document.

“Today might be the darkest day in Illinois government history,” Republican Leader Jim Durkin (Western Springs) said. “The 22-count federal indictment is the power cleaning against former Democrat Speaker Michael Madigan is the beginning of the power cleaning so desperately needed.”

Republicans say these fraud charges could have been found earlier during a legislative investigation before Madigan’s eventual resignation. Republican Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) said he was investigating alongside Speaker Chris Welch, who chaired the investigation.

In August 2020, Demmer said, the investigation began as the result of a petition filed in the House. The investigation was to see if he had acted in a way “unbecoming” to a legislator, but it was not related to a criminal charge like the current case. Demmer did say the bipartisan legislative investigative committee communicated with Attorney John Lausch to see if the investigations would get in each other’s way.

They were told it wouldn’t. However, Demmer said Democrats voted down subpoenas by the committee. He and other Republicans argue that some Democrats stonewalled the investigation in the fall of 2020.

“They willfully ignored that conduct in order to protect their own political patron,” Demmer said. “We should have been acting in late fall in 2020 instead of waiting for the criminal justice system to do it for us.”

Lawmakers voted in fall of 2020 that no charges were necessary against Madigan.

Durkin calls the charges an indictment against the entire Democratic Party, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker. They also volleyed accusations at Welch for being the “hand-picked successor” of Madigan and other Democrats who abided by the former speaker. Republicans argued the Democrats will engage in “revisionist history” regarding the former speaker.

“History will not be kind to you,” Durkin said to Democratic legislators who defended Madigan. “Your sheltering and protection of Mike Madigan during the special investigation committee was a disservice to Illinois and to all of their constituents.”

Republicans also said today’s indictment may act as the beginning of a culture change in Illinois politics. They say this and the failed Fair Tax Amendment last November mark a change in the steady Democratic leanings of the state. On the other hand, Welch said he is not worried about November as it relates to the indictment. Democrats also hold a super-majority in the House and Senate, with more than three-fifths of the members.

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