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Weekend Watch: Madigan Resigns from the House

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The Better Government Association first reported on a sweeping corruption probe surrounding Michael Madigan, who has been implicated, but not charged.

Video Transcript

STACEY BACA: Our Weekend Watch shines a spotlight on government activity. And this week, we are talking about the end of a political era in Illinois. Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan announcing this week that he is resigning from the House.

And all this comes more than a year after the watchdog group Better Government Association first reported on a sweeping corruption probe surrounding Madigan. Now, Madigan has been implicated, but not charged. Here to talk more about the issue now from the BGA is David Greising. So David, good morning.

DAVID GREISING: Good morning, Stacey.

STACEY BACA: What an event we witnessed this week. And this all is happening with this federal investigation still looming around Michael Madigan.

DAVID GREISING: Well, absolutely. The big fight right now is over the money that is left and campaign funds that Michael Madigan still has control over. He still leads the Democratic Party of Illinois. And with more than $13 million in that campaign fund, he's still got a lot of clout in Illinois politics.

That CD held in the 22nd district of the state House is really just almost not worth the bother for him probably. And he's still a force in Illinois politics.

STACEY BACA: Yeah. I'm interested. Looking forward and moving forward, too, when you talk about the Illinois Democratic Party, his role in that, and just his influence within the ward as well where he lives, what are we expecting from all of this as we move into the future? What do you think about Madigan's influence moving ahead?

DAVID GREISING: Yeah. I think he'll exert influence throughout the campaign [INAUDIBLE] that he can distribute. He will control the choice of his successor. He has more than half the votes for the vote that will happen tomorrow. He's under a lot of pressure to appoint a Latino representative because his district has become more Latino people living there.

As far as other politics, the big question is whether he will continue to influence his successor Speaker Chris Welch, who was a protege of Madigan's. And Madigan played a role in selecting Welch as his own successor.

STACEY BACA: Right. And that's an interesting point as well because Madigan, a polarizing figure, right? So we had-- we heard from people this week on both sides, including Speaker Welch, too, those people who support Madigan. So tackle that side, the supporters of what they actually see and his accomplishments over the years.

DAVID GREISING: Well, they give him credit for a stewardship over Illinois politics for more than 40 years. The track-- the real question there is, like, what does he have to show for it?

We have the state-- the state's fiscal issues are huge-- the worst-funded pension system in the nation, for example. We have issues with regard to equity that the Legislative Black Caucus is just starting to fix.

Madigan was good at pushing through major infrastructure bills. And the governor has a $45 billion infrastructure plan underway that Madigan helped shepherd that through the Illinois legislature. Years after years of unbalanced budgets. It's-- his allies say he has a great track record. But frankly, if you look at the outcomes, they're not very-- very encouraging.

STACEY BACA: I think you covered it there, what the allies are saying, but also the critics as well. So David, thank you so much. Appreciate your time this morning.

DAVID GREISING: Thank you.