Madigan calls on successor to resign just two days after installing him as replacement

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Dan Petrella, Chicago Tribune
·4 min read
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Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn on Tuesday night called on Madigan’s handpicked replacement to resign just two days after installing him as a state lawmaker.

Edward Guerra Kodatt, a 26-year-old assistant in Quinn’s ward office, was appointed to the seat after Madigan stepped down from the House Thursday.

“After learning of alleged questionable conduct by Mr. Kodatt, it was suggested that he resign as state representative for the 22nd District. We are committed to a zero tolerance policy in the workplace,” the two Southwest Side Democrats said in a statement.

Through a spokeswoman, Madigan and Quinn did not elaborate on the allegations. Kodatt could not be reached Tuesday night.

As of Tuesday, Kodatt’s formal resignation had not been filed with the secretary of state’s office, a spokesman said. Should Kodatt resign, Madigan would once again have the votes to select a new House member. Madigan, the 13th Ward Democratic committeeman, holds 56% of the weighted vote cast in the 22nd House District.

Kodatt, 26, is a bilingual outreach and budget assistant in the constituent services office run by Madigan and Quinn. Kodatt, who worked in the office since 2017, earns $42,456, city payroll records show. Kodatt will earn $67,836 in accepting a post Madigan held 24 years before he was born. Kodatt, an Eastern Illinois University graduate enrolled in an online MBA program at the University of Kansas, also worked on three Democratic legislative campaigns.

Interviewed Sunday by the ward and township officials within Madigan’s 22nd District, Kodatt offered few direct responses to questions that included what his first bill would be, saying, “A lot of issues are important to me.”

“I know what the constituents are looking for. I know how to serve their needs,” Kodatt said Sunday. “I found out (about Madigan’s resignation) just like everybody else and decided to throw my hat in the ring. I’m ready for the challenge and excited to step up for this opportunity.”

As for his successor, Madigan said Sunday: “I think Mr. Kodatt will stand on his own merits. He has spoken to his background. He spoke to his aspirations for service in the General Assembly and I’m sure he’ll be judged on his actions.”

Madigan’s choice of Kodatt was opposed by state Rep. Aaron Ortiz, the 14th Ward Democratic committeeman, and Ald. Silvana Tabares, the 23rd Ward committeewoman, though their choices lacked the votes. Ortiz nominated Silvia Villa, a professor of Latino studies working in state welcoming centers for immigrants. Tabares, nominated Angelica Guerrero Cuellar, a Latino community services volunteer, to succeed Madigan.

The calls for Kodatt’s resignation represent the latest twist in Madigan’s fall from power.

In January, the nation’s longest-serving speaker gave up a bid for another two-year term running the House amid a ComEd bribery scandal investigation that ensnared his closest confidant and a Capitol #MeToo reckoning that resulted in several top aides resigning. Nineteen House Democrats refused to vote for Madigan again, and Emanuel “Chris” Welch of west suburban Hillside cobbled together the votes to replace him as speaker.

On Thursday, Madigan resigned from the House. On Sunday, Madigan selected Kodatt as his replacement in the legislature, saying he hadn’t made up his mind how long he’d stay on as chairman of the state Democratic Party.

But on Monday, Madigan resigned that post too, setting off a scramble for a new chairman. Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, previously the Democratic vice chair, will take over on an interim basis, the party announced late Monday.

Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th, has the backing of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, while U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson has the backing of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin for the state party chairmanship.

Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney John Lausch, whose office is leading the ComEd probe of Madigan and his allies, will stay on instead of resigning as scheduled at the end of the month following a White House reprieve.

It came after Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth wrote a letter to President Joe Biden hailing Lausch, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2017, as a nonpartisan corruption buster and asking that he be allowed to stay on until a replacement could be installed.