The Legislative Black Caucus has come out in support of embattled Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. But one caucus member says he stands by his previous dissent.
While he hasn’t been charged with a crime, Madigan has been implicated in federal bribery charges against five others. One former ComEd official pleaded guilty to bribery charges in September. Four others, two other former ComEd officials and two Madigan associates, pleaded not guilty last month.
ComEd admitted it paid $1.3 million over nine years in jobs and contracts to Madigan associates in an effort to influence the longtime speaker. Madigan denies knowing anything about attempts to influence him.
The Legislative Black Caucus held a speaker forum last weekend ahead of the new General Assembly set to be seated the second week of January. Madigan and state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, were the only two to appear. Kifowit is running against Madigan for the speakership.
The first vote of the new House will be for speaker, but Madigan has at least 19 House Democrats against him.
“We believe our caucus is in a more advantageous position under the leadership of Speaker Madigan to deliver on our priorities,” the Black Caucus said in a statement published to a political blog. “We have a daunting task ahead of us to repair harm done to black communities.”
After the forum, but before the announcement, state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said he has yet to consider the cloud over Madigan.
“I’ve never really dealt with his legal trouble,” Ford said. “I’m waiting on the feds. If the feds have something, it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers that they come forth.”
Ford said Madigan was the only of the two candidates to address the caucus with a plan for revenue increases instead of cuts to services he said would hurt the most vulnerable.
But state Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, released a statement after the caucus announcement.
“My position hasn't changed,” he said.
In October, West told WIFR he wants a speaker who believes in term limits and immediate ethics reform to regain trust in state government.
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