Springfield, IL… State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) filed legislation last week to further separate political party interests and state interests. House Bill 4097 says that no member of the General Assembly shall concurrently serve as the chairperson for a statewide political party.
“For a state legislator, a public servant, to head a state political party and essentially hold the purse strings isn’t right,” Rep. McDermed said. “It is an unnecessary and improper consolidation of power. For those two roles to go hand in hand, it naturally invites conflicts of interest and possible corruption.”
According to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, among the 100 current Republican and Democratic State Party chairs in the nation, only nine also currently serve as state legislators. Of the nine, only two also serve in their party’s legislative leadership. In Illinois, House Speaker Michael Madigan has served as the Illinois Democratic Party’s Chair since 1998. He is the only statehouse chamber leader, House Speaker or Senate President, in the United States to also be the head of his state’s political party.
State party chairmen dictate the message and strategy of their party. Perhaps most importantly, they also organize party members and control millions of dollars in campaign funds. According to Illinois Sunshine, the Democratic Party of Illinois has $3.1 million in cash and the political committee Friends of Michael J. Madigan has $2.6 million on hand. As Speaker of the House, Madigan also controls the legislative process.
“The role of a state representative, especially a House Speaker, is to represent the best interests of the state, not engage in politics,” Rep. McDermed continued. “While I do believe Speaker Madigan has used his dual role to further cement his power in this state, it is not just about him. State party chairmen are focused on the next election and wherever possible we need to separate politics from governance.”