7TH HOUSE DEM CALLS ON SPEAKER TO HAND OVER GAVEL

North Shore Rep. Jen­nifer Gong-Ger­showitz, who has re­ceived nearly $247K in con­tri­bu­tions from Madi­gan, says ‘it’s the right thing to do’

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY RACHEL HIN­TON, STAFF RE­PORTER rhin­ton@sun­times.com | @rrhin­ton

A north sub­ur­ban leg­is­la­tor who has ben­e­fited from nearly $247,000 in con­tri­bu­tions from House Speaker Michael Madi­gan is now calling for the be­lea­guered po­lit­i­cal pow­er­house to step down, say­ing the Leg­is­la­ture can’t func­tion below a cloud of “dis­trac­tions, doubt or dis­trust.”

State Rep. Jen­nifer Gong-Ger­showitz is join­ing the slowly grow­ing list of House Democrats calling on Madi­gan to im­me­di­ately re­sign from his lead­er­ship roles in the Illi­nois House and the state’s Demo­cratic Party, say­ing fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions into cor­rup­tion “at the high­est lev­els have cre­ated a cri­sis of con­fi­dence and un­der­mined the in­tegrity and pub­lic trust that lead­er­ship de­mands.”

“If we are to move our state for­ward, Speaker Madi­gan must not con­tinue to serve in the role of speaker of the House or as chair of the Illi­nois Demo­cratic Party,” the Glen­view Demo­crat said in a state­ment.

“I fully sup­port due process for Speaker Madi­gan and any­one else with re­spect to on­go­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions. How­ever, whether some­one should re­tain lead­er­ship po­si­tions in the Gen­eral Assem­bly and the Illi­nois Demo­cratic Party is a ques­tion of moral, eth­i­cal and per­sonal judg­ment, not crim­i­nal process. Lead­er­ship is a priv­i­lege, and we must hold our lead­ers to a higher stan­dard.”

Madi­gan has not been charged with any crime, but last month, a fed­eral court fil­ing im­pli­cated him in an al­leged bribery scheme in which ComEd is ac­cused of send­ing $1.3 mil­lion to Madi­gan’s as­so­ciates for do­ing lit­tle or no work for the util­ity.

Madi­gan has de­nied any wrong­do­ing and said he has no plans to re­sign.

In an in­ter­view with the Sun­Times, Gong-Ger­showitz said she was calling for Madi­gan to step down now be­cause “it’s the right thing to do.”

“We’re also con­fronting some of the most con­se­quen­tial chal­lenges of our life­time, and we can’t af­ford dis­trac­tions, doubt and dis­trust to hang over our work in the Gen­eral Assem­bly,” Gong-Ger­showitz said.

Gong-Ger­showitz, who has rep­re­sented her dis­trict since Jan­uary

of last year, re­ported ac­cept­ing $246,902.81 in in-kind con­tri­bu­tions from cam­paign funds con­trolled or con­nected to Madi­gan from 2018 to June.

She said she doesn’t in­tend to give that money back be­cause it was do­nated to her be­fore Madi­gan was im­pli­cated in a fed­eral bribery scheme in­volv­ing ComEd.

“I sought sup­port from the Demo­cratic Party of Illi­nois just like Repub­li­cans seek sup­port from their party, and most im­por­tantly that sup­port has not in­flu­enced my votes or my leg­isla­tive agenda,” Gong-Ger­showitz said.

The num­ber of Democrats calling on Madi­gan to re­lin­quish his lead­er­ship po­si­tions is grow­ing, al­though the list of House Democrats mak­ing that call is grow­ing more slowly.

Gong-Ger­showitz joins six other mem­bers of Madi­gan’s cau­cus calling on him to step down im­me­di­ately: North Siders Jonathan “Yoni” Pizer and Kelly Cas­sidy, Stephanie Ki­fowit of Oswego, Lind­sey LaPointe of the North­west Side, Terra Costa

Howard of Glen El­lyn and Stava-Mur­ray of Naperville.

Demo­cratic state sen­a­tors and Chicago al­der­men have also called for Madi­gan to give up his party post and the speaker’s gavel he has held for all but two years since 1983.

The list of non-House Democrats seek­ing Madi­gan’s im­me­di­ate ouster grew markedly on Tues­day

Anne with the re­lease of a let­ter signed by more than 50 elected and party of­fi­cials.

Those sign­ing the let­ter in­cluded 2018 gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­dates Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss; Peter Janko, a com­mit­teep­er­son for the state’s Demo­cratic Party; for­mer Cook County Clerk David Orr and for­mer Lt. Gov. Sheila Si­mon.

Re­spond­ing to the de­fec­tions, Madi­gan said in a state­ment “there have al­ways been dif­fer­ences within the Demo­cratic Party.”

“I have de­voted my en­tire ca­reer to work­ing with all Democrats in Illi­nois,” Madi­gan said. “I will con­tinue to do that, es­pe­cially as we face de­feat­ing Don­ald Trump, who has a track record of sow­ing di­vi­sion and sup­press­ing mi­nor­ity voices.

“As Trump ends the cen­sus count early, en­sur­ing all of our com­mu­ni­ties are fairly and fully rep­re­sented has been and will con­tinue to be a main pri­or­ity of mine as the chair­man of the Demo­cratic Party of Illi­nois.”

“WE’RE ALSO CON­FRONTING SOME OF THE MOST CON­SE­QUEN­TIAL CHAL­LENGES OF OUR LIFE­TIME, AND WE CAN’T AF­FORD DIS­TRAC­TIONS, DOUBT AND DIS­TRUST TO HANG OVER OUR WORK IN THE GEN­ERAL ASSEM­BLY.” STATE REP. JEN­NIFER GONG-GER­SHOWITZ

State Rep. Jen­nifer Gong-Ger­showitz Illi­nois House Speaker Michael Madi­gan

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