The memo of complaints about misconduct House Speaker Mike Madigan made public Tuesday should be evaluated for what it didn’t say rather than what it did. It didn’t list complaints by a member about another member. It didn’t list complaints by a member about a lobbyist. It didn’t list complaints by a lobbyist about a member. It didn’t list complaints by staff about a member regarding ill treatment or derogatory comments. It didn’t list complaints about another caucus leader, member or staff. Lastly, it didn’t list unresolved complaints.
Speaker Madigan would have the people of Illinois believe the nine complaints that he disclosed have been all tied up in a nice, neat bow. What the Democratic Party leaders don’t seem to comprehend is these complaints and the way they were handled are indicative of a profound lack of interest in accountability.
If these complaints took place over the last five years, they should’ve been referred to the Legislative Inspector General office for an independent investigation. What is the point of having a Legislative Inspector General to investigate allegations of misconduct if lawmakers are simply going to take complaints and then sweep them under the rug? If the Speaker wants to show Illinoisans “new and unprecedented action,” then he should release all complaints—including those against other legislators. Voters need to know what else is out there. There should be full disclosure and full referral to the inspector general for independent investigation.
If these complaints took place during the three-year absence of the LIG, then this makes clear Madigan was aware of the need for this position to be filled and did nothing. The veteran legislator needs to step down as speaker and the General Assembly needs to step up to select someone to fill the LIG’s position permanently. These disclosures also illustrate the need for fundamental changes to the statute governing the Ethics Commission and the LIG. In particular, the Speakers disclosure clearly sets out the case for including a duty to report misconduct to the LIG for independent investigation.
These recent revelations of sexual harassment and sexual assault give credence to Springfield being a frat house. It’s the lack of transparency and tepid response that allows improper behavior to go unchecked.
Contrary to those who believe asking Madigan to resign would be like firing a general in the midst of an important battle, in my view, the only battle the Speaker seems to be waging is the one to keep challengers to his slate of candidates from prevailing in the Democratic primary. There’s precedent, however, for taking a general off the battlefield. In an historical article I recently read it says, "Sometimes during the emergencies of war even senior officers are found to be lacking in brains, skills, or character necessary to win the war." So, I say let Madigan be the Illinois version of George S. Patton, shall we.