Madigan's $100M Obama Library Pledge Gets Seal of Approval

The wily Illinois House Speaker prevails in a re-vote of his controversial plan

The sky is blue, grass is green and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan managed to secure enough votes to push his unpopular pledge to earmark $100 million in state funds toward President Obama's library and museum.


The House Executive Committee re-voted Wednesday to approve Madigan's plan for a nine-figure incentive to tempt the library away from potential competitors Hawaii (the president's home state) and New York (his collegiate stomping grounds).

A second hearing had been called after the Chicago Democrat sparked Republican outrage -- and lots of eye-rolls from his many loyal constituents -- for masterminding a strategy to pass the spending bill through the committee when Congress was on spring break last month. At the time, no GOP politicians on the panel were present to say "yay or nay," but they were still recorded as giving their approval. Madigan reluctantly agreed to a re-vote amid uproar over his wily tactics.

"The state of Illinois has participated in the construction of university buildings, libraries at universities, public structures all over the state,” said Madigan, according to the State Journal-Register. "This is a building, it will be located in the state of Illinois. It will become an international tourist attraction."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel argues the same. Meanwhile, opponents are questioning the decision to use taxpayer money for the library's construction when Illinois' fiscal future is in crisis. Why not, they ask, rely on private donations like previous presidential libraries?

Given all the opposition, how did Madigan pass that bill through the House Executive Committee?

Easy: He pulls the strings, trades the favors and knows where all the bodies are buried. Figuratively speaking.

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