Former longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and four other officials selected another replacement for Madigan's statehouse seat following his first successor's resignation over "alleged questionable conduct" just three days after he took office.
Madigan, who remains 13th Ward Democratic Committeemen with a majority vote in the selection process, and the other committee members appointed Angelica Guerrero Cuellar to Illinois' 22nd District on Chicago's Southwest Side.
Guerrero Cuellar has most recently been working for Envision Community Services, an organization that has been focused on the response to the coronavirus pandemic in West Lawn. She said she plans to resign from that role to be a full-time lawmaker.
"My emotions right now, I'm still processing. This is a lot that's happened in last 48 hours," Guerrero Cuellar said immediately after she was sworn in. "I did submit my application just to be hopeful and provide my credentials but also let people know we should definitely give back to community and that's what I'm doing and that's what I've always done."
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Madigan, Rep. Aaron Ortiz, Chicago Alds. Derrick Curtis and Silvana Tabares and Vince Cainkar all met Thursday in their capacities as Democratic committeemen for their respective portions of district, which Madigan represented for 50 years before his resignation last week.
Madigan retained a 56% weighted vote in the selection of his successor. When the committee last met on Sunday, he threw his support behind Edward Guerra Kodatt - one of 11 candidates seeking the office. Kodatt was sworn in the same day but resigned just three days later over "alleged questionable conduct."
Kodatt, who did not immediately respond to request for comment, submitted a letter of resignation with the House clerk Wednesday morning, a spokesman for Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch said. His resignation came hours after Madigan and 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn said they had asked him to step down.
“After learning of alleged questionable conduct by Mr. Kodatt, it was suggested that he resign as state representative for the 22nd District,” Madigan and Quinn said in a joint statement on Tuesday. “We are committed to a zero tolerance policy in the workplace.”
Further details on the alleged conduct were not immediately available. Kodatt served as an infrastructure manager for the Chicago City Council for the last four years, working closely with Quinn in that role, but resigned from that position as well on Wednesday.
Madigan backed Guerrero Cuellar as his second successor on Thursday after she received the second-most votes on Sunday. She was sworn in immediately after the minutes-long nomination meeting.
Madigan previously served as speaker of the Illinois House for all but two years since 1983, making him the longest serving statehouse speaker in U.S. history. In January, he ultimately lost his bid to remain speaker for another term when Democrats in the House backed Welch to become the first Black speaker in Illinois history and the chamber’s first new leader in decades.
Madigan's loss of the speakership and his subsequent resignation came after two former ComEd executives and two consultants, one a longtime Madigan associate and confidant, were indicted in November on multiple federal charges related to the alleged scheme to influence Madigan - identified in the indictment as "Public Official A" - in exchange for legislation favorable to the utility giant, prosecutors say.
Those charges were levied months after federal prosecutors in July filed a deferred prosecution agreement with ComEd in which investigators revealed that the utility company agreed to pay $200 million dollars in fines and admitted to arranging jobs and payments for associates of an elected official, referred to only as “Public Official A," from 2011 to 2019 to curry favor with the official.
Madigan has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing and has repeatedly denied the allegations laid out by prosecutors, saying in part that if the conspiracy to influence him did occur, "it was never made known" to him and if it had been, it "would have been profoundly unwelcome."