Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said Thursday he has "no plans to resign" as calls for him to step down continue to grow after he was implicated in a federal court filing alleging a bribery scheme with ComEd that lasted nearly a decade.
“I understand that the last couple of weeks have been difficult for our caucus and party, and I have had many candid conversations with members of the Democratic caucus on this matter," Madigan said in a statement.
Multiple Democratic lawmakers told NBC 5 that Madigan contacted them individually on Thursday to gauge support and ask if he should step down. NBC 5 is not identifying the lawmakers, who requested anonymity to openly discuss the ongoing developments.
"The feedback is positive and demonstrates continued support for me and my leadership roles. I have no plans to resign," Madigan's statement continued.
"I have never made a legislative decision with improper motives and any claim otherwise is unfounded. I will continue to lead the effort to defeat Donald Trump, expand the Illinois congressional delegation and the majorities in the Illinois House and Senate," he added.
One lawmaker who Madigan consulted said they told him he should not resign - expressing a similar sentiment that Democrats needed to focus on defeating Trump in November, and that a vacancy in party leadership less than 100 days before the election would harm that effort.
However, at least seven other Democrats in the legislature have publicly pushed for Madigan to resign from either his position as speaker, his role as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, or both, some citing the upcoming election specifically as a reason for him to step aside.
The calls for Madigan to step down come after federal prosecutors earlier this month filed a deferred prosecution agreement with ComEd, in which investigators revealed that the utility company 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 and ultimately pass legislation favorable to ComEd.
The court filing identifies "Public Official A" as "Speaker of the Illinois House and the longest serving member of the House of Representatives," a description that fits only Madigan.
"The company admitted that it arranged for jobs and vendor subcontracts for Public Official A’s political allies and workers even in instances where those people performed little or no work that they were purportedly hired by ComEd to perform," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement when the agreement with ComEd was announced on July 17.
In exchange, prosecutors said the General Assembly "considered bills and passed legislation that had a substantial impact on ComEd’s operations and profitability, including legislation that affected the regulatory process used to determine the electricity rates ComEd charged its customers."
ComEd acknowledged to investigators that the "anticipated benefits" of the legislation favorable to the utility company exceeded $150 million, the court filing says.
Prosecutors filed a one-count charge of bribery against ComEd, as well as a deferred prosecution agreement in which the U.S. Attorney's office will delay prosecution on the charge for three years then seek to dismiss it if ComEd abides by certain conditions. Those conditions include the payment of a $200 million fine as well as continued cooperation with "ongoing investigation of individuals or other entities related to the conduct described in the bribery charge," among other requirements.
A spokeswoman for Madigan denied any wrongdoing in a statement issued after the agreement with ComEd was announced, saying in part that "he has done nothing criminal or improper" and that his offices had received subpoenas for various documents and would cooperate with the requests.
Still, some lawmakers said the appearance of impropriety alone was enough for them to say he should step down.
Four Democrats in the Illinois House and three in the Senate - all women - have openly called for Madigan to resign. They include: State. Sen Melinda Bush, of Grayslake, Sen. Heather Steans, of Chicago, Sen. Iris Martinez, of Chicago, Rep. Anne Stava Murray, of Downers Grove, Rep. Terra Costa Howard, of Lombard, Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, of Oswego, and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, of Chicago.
"It is clear that the constant drip of corruption stories will interfere with our ability to advance a progressive agenda," Cassidy's statement, issued Thursday, reads in part. "Whether these investigations ultimately implicate him or continue to pick away at his inner circle, the damage is done.”
"It is imperative that the people of our state can trust in their representatives and that those representatives can trust in their leaders," Steans said Tuesday, adding that the allegations in ComEd's agreement with prosecutors "paint a sordid picture of bribery, influence peddling and insider-dealing at the highest levels."
Kifowit called for Madigan's resignation in a letter she posted on social media, saying she had electronically delivered it to his office on Thursday.
"While at the moment there are no legal charges against you, the actions described… did not hold the respect and dignity of the institution of the Illinois State House and the General Assembly as a whole," she wrote, identifying herself as a legislator who previously voted to elect him speaker - but noting that she will not vote for him again.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin was among several Republicans who also called for Madigan's immediate resignation as both speaker and from his statehouse seat on Thursday, saying in a statement that he planned to file a resolution to have the House "vote on a new Speaker immediately."