Springfield, IL… Today Illinois House Democrats voted to reaffirm Speaker Michael Madigan as the longest-serving legislative leader in Illinois history and in the United States. In response, State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) has announced her intention to again file legislation that bars members of the General Assembly from concurrently serving as the chairperson for a statewide political party.
“This is simply too much power in the hands of one individual,” Rep. McDermed said. “During his decades in office, Speaker Madigan has used Machiavellian means to consolidate power over his party and over the legislative process. Speaker Madigan now presides over a supermajority of legislators, can dictate the House rules as he sees fit, and use his party’s purse strings to silence any dissent. Can Illinois truly be said to be a representative democracy if one man, elected by only 21,000 Illinoisans, wields such unchallenged power?”
The legislation, first filed in the 100th General Assembly as House Bill 4097, seeks to separate political party interests and state interests. As Speaker of the House, Madigan controls the legislative process and sets the rules that ultimately dictate how a bill will become a law. In addition to this substantial power, 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 hold the position as the head of his or her 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 $10.8 million on hand and Speaker Madigan is the chairman of two additional campaign funds that together total $29.1 million.
“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. “State party chairmen are focused on the next election and for those two roles to go hand in hand, it naturally invites conflicts of interest and possible corruption. Wherever possible we need to separate politics from governance. Illinois is not known for its political ethics. This unnecessary and improper consolidation of power is just one example of ‘insider baseball’ that needs to end.”
The bill, once filed, will be sent to the Rules Committee where it will likely be purposely disregarded as the committee is presided over by Speaker Madigan’s closest allies.