CHICAGO (AP) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker Thursday said Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan should step down as chairman of the state Democratic Party, agreeing with the state’s senior U.S. senator that the longtime political powerbroker’s implication in a federal bribery investigation hurt Democrats in Tuesday’s elections.
Pritzker made a more general statement Wednesday that voters jaded by a spate of corruption involving Democrats had helped sink his administration’s top priority, implementing a graduated income tax that would hit the wealthy harder and generate billions of dollars to help Illinois’ sad fiscal state. But after Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, told WTTW-TV Wednesday night that he blamed Democratic electoral setbacks on Madigan’s refusal to step aside after he was named by the Justice Department as a participant in a decade-long bribery scheme admitted to by utility company ComEd, Pritzker went further.
“I agree with Sen. Durbin that opponents were able to tap into voters)’concerns about corruption and their lack of trust in government[…],” Pritzker said of the failed tax amendment. “The Republicans and the billionaires that sided with them were able to use the speaker as their foil and that hurt our ability, our state’s ability to get things done.”
When asked if that meant he supported new party leadership, Pritzker said, “Yes.”
ComEd admitted in a deferred prosecution agreement signed with the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Illinois in July that its top administrators offered no-work lobbyist jobs and sub-contracts to allies of Madigan in exchange for favorable legislation.
Madigan is identified in the document only as House speaker. He has not been charged with a crime and denies wrongdoing.