Springfield, IL – Organized Labor is sticking with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, a long-time Labor ally, as an investigation into what prosecutors are calling a “years-long bribery scheme” swirls ever closer to the powerful speaker and chair of the Illinois Democratic Party.
A grand jury returned indictments last week against four former Commonwealth Edison executives and consultants accused of attempting to “influence and reward” Madigan by providing financial benefits to some close to him, often through lobbyist Michael McClain, a close confidant and advisor to the speaker, who is at the center of the probe.
Madigan has not been charged with any wrongdoing and says he did nothing wrong.
“If it had been known to me, it would have been profoundly unwelcome,” Madigan said of the alleged scheme.
Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, re-stated Labor’s support for Madigan, as the Illinois AFL-CIO had done previously.
“The people that you’ve worked with to help make every-day people’s lives better. You can’t just walk away from that situation,” Reiter told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Especially in a situation like this, where there’s this appearance that’s been created that may, in fact, be divorced from actual reality.”
The Illinois AFL-CIO previously expressed its support for Madigan on Nov. 10.
“Through all the challenges and threats that working families in Illinois have faced over the past years, Speaker Michael Madigan has been a firm ally in defense of our rights, our economic security, and the well-being of our families and our communities,” Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea said in a statement.
“That’s why the Illinois AFL-CIO strongly supports Michael Madigan’s continued leadership as Illinois House Speaker and Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.”
Even without charges, some have suggested it may be time for the nation’s longest-serving speaker and Illinois Democratic Party chairman to step down.
Last week, 18 House Democrats – all from the Chicago area – declared their opposition to Madigan continuing as speaker.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin also have suggested that Madigan, 78, step down. Pritzker said Republicans were able to use Madigan as a bogey man to rally voters against the proposed Fair Tax Amendment and against Democratic candidates in the Nov. 3 election.