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“This reflects a big change in what people in Illinois are expecting out of government,” Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, who defeated a machine-style politician two years ago, said Friday. “Basically, we have one of the last old-school political machines in the country. Madigan’s a lineal descendant of that tradition and people don’t think it works. It has caused tremendous fiscal problems in the state.”

Earlier this week, federal prosecutors charged one of Madigan’s confidants and three former ComEd executives in an alleged scheme to give no-work jobs and internships to Madigan allies in exchange for favorable legislation. Madigan has not been charged, but he was quickly identified as “Public Official A” in federal documents because the official is described as the Illinois speaker, a position only two people have held in nearly 40 years.

Madigan’s exit would bring practical concerns for Democrats, and not just in Illinois: Despite having a Democratic supermajority, the speaker’s allies in labor and in the General Assembly worry ousting Madigan now could jeopardize their control over the next redistricting process, which begins in 2021. There is also fear around being alienated from him and “The Program,” Madigan’s fundraising operation and an army of volunteers that help candidates win campaigns.

Madigan, known as the “Velvet Hammer,” could afford to lose only 13 votes in the Illinois House and hold on as speaker — a figure he hit early this week. By Thursday night, 17 had defected as he sought to defend himself (the number grew to 18 on Friday morning).

“Some individuals have spent millions of dollars and worked diligently to establish a false narrative that I am corrupt and unethical. I have publicly ignored their antics because those who know me and work with me know that this rhetoric is simply untrue,” Madigan said in a two-page statement issued Thursday.

The Illinois GOP struggles to fund campaigns in a state dominated by Democrats, but the ComEd angle — and it’s connections to Madigan, who also chairs the Illinois Democratic Party — gave them a clear target. Republican candidates across the state capitalized on the investigation, which was announced in July, using it to slam Democratic incumbents and newcomers alike in the Nov. 3 election.

Although President Donald Trump is credited with turning out his base all over the country, some Democrats say the specter of corruption in Illinois helped tank Democratic campaigns for Congress and the General Assembly. And as the election fallout ripples and news of the investigation trickles out, a growing number of high-profile Democrats have called out Madigan.

Earlier this month, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) stunned political veterans in the state with a television interview in which he laid Betsy Dirksen Londrigan’s House loss at Madigan’s feet.

“All across our state — and the advertising told the story — we paid a heavy price for the speaker’s chairmanship of the Democratic Party,” Durbin told WTTW on “Chicago Tonight.” “Candidates who had little or no connection with [Madigan] whatsoever were being tarred as Madigan allies who are behind corruption and so forth and so on.”

Londrigan fell short in her rematch this year against Republican Rep. Rodney Davis after she’d lost by just 2,000 votes in 2018. This year, Davis ran an attack ad

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trying to tie Londrigan to Madigan, saying “Betsy Londrigan would make Washington more corrupt.”

Similarly, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) has called for Madigan to step down as party leader.

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker blamed the cloud of corruption for influencing voters to reject a progressive income tax ballot initiative. The measure was a signature piece of Pritzker’s plan to help turn around the state’s financial ship and further cement his liberal credentials.

“If Speaker Madigan wants to continue in a position of enormous public trust with such a serious ethical cloud hanging over his head, then he has to at the very least be willing to stand in front of the press and the people and answer every last question to their satisfaction,” Pritzker told reporters Thursday.

Strong as his statement was, the governor didn’t call outright for Madigan’s resignation and instead gave him something of an out. Written statements, Pritzker said, “are not going to cut it. If the speaker cannot commit to that level of transparency, then the time has come for him to resign as speaker.”

Pritzker must weigh his own political ambitions as he looks to reelection in 2022; Republican campaigns are sure wield Madigan as a top talking point.

But it’s the lawmakers in the state House who have the most power to decide Madigan’s future in the face of his denials of wrongdoing.

The cracks in Madigan’s veneer started before the ComEd investigation. Two years ago, his office came under scrutiny for sexual harassment. A few veteran aides were fired, but female lawmakers haven’t forgotten and have led much of the opposition to Madigan staying on as speaker.

“Women are tired of the system being rigged against them, tired of the old boy network and tired of having to put up with bad behavior, ethical challenges and a complete disregard for a higher standard of ethics and morality when you’re in a position of leadership,” said state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, who so far is the only representative who’s put her hat in the ring to run against Madigan as speaker.

Madigan still has his supporters and some legislators have hinted at supporting the speaker in January if he commits to make it his last. Union leaders and others credit Madigan with pushing back against Bruce Rauner, a one-term Republican governor whose austerity measures added to a budget morass that the state is still struggling with today.

“We have a raging pandemic, a precarious economy, a huge budget hole, and we might be coming into one of the toughest budget-making sessions we’ve ever had,” Michael Sacks, a top Democratic donor and supporter of Joe Biden, said before the latest drip of the ComEd scandal. “The idea that we don’t have all of our best players on the field protecting social services, education, working families and other things Democrats care about is nonsensical.”


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Capitol Police turned attention from ’200’ Proud Boys gathered on Jan. 6, lawmaker says

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“Why did the department decide to monitor the … counterdemonstrators but apparently, according to this timeline, not to monitor the Proud Boys?” Lofgren asked Bolton. “What happened to these 200 Proud Boys over the course of the day?”

Bolton said he didn’t have the answer to Lofgren’s questions, but said he hoped to have answers after his next report.

“We have the same kind of concerns,” Bolton said.

He also questioned the timeline’s accuracy and said these questions were part of why he moved up a report on command and control and radio traffic to June from later this summer.

Representatives for the Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Evidence filed by the Justice Department suggests coordination between groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia network, ahead of then-President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 rally. In a debate in September, when asked to condemn white supremacists, Trump called on the Proud Boys

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, a self-described “Western chauvinist” group, to “stand back” and “stand by.”

The department’s highest-ranking on-the-ground commander, Eric Waldow, urged officers to look out for anti-Trump demonstrators among the sprawling pro-Trump crowd, POLITICO previously reported. Lawmakers have expressed fears that the department didn’t take seriously enough the threat that pro-Trump extremists posed to Congress.

Bolton issued a report in April that found the department’s unit for responding to violent protests is antiquated enough that officers “actively find ways to circumvent getting assigned there.”

Bolton also said on Monday that the department didn’t “adequately” put out guidance for countersurveillance and threat assessment, and had communications procedures that could have “led to critical countersurveillance information not being appropriately communicated” in the department.

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.


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Trump super PAC to hold first fundraiser at Bedminster

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A pro-Donald Trump super PAC is holding its first fundraising event on May 22 at the former president’s Bedminster golf club, according to two people familiar with the planning.

The event will benefit Make America Great Again Action, a super PAC spearheaded by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Trump is expected to attend the event, which will include reception and a dinner. The minimum price for entry is $250,000.

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Trump tapped Lewandowki earlier this year to oversee the super PAC as part of his post-White House political operation. It’s the second big money group Trump has formed. Shortly after the election, he launched Save America PAC, a leadership PAC that has raised tens of millions of dollars.


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Pierre ‘Pete’ du Pont IV dies; ran for president in 1988

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“I was born with a well-known name and genuine opportunity. I hope I have lived up to both,” du Pont said in announcing his longshot presidential bid in September 1986.

As a presidential candidate, du Pont attracted attention for staking out controversial positions on what he hoped would reverberate with voters as “damn right” issues. They included random drug testing for high school students, school vouchers, replacing welfare with work, ending farm subsidies, and allowing workers to invest in individual retirement accounts as an alternative to Social Security.

Some of those ideas have since become more mainstream.

He won the endorsement of New Hampshire’s largest newspaper but failed to gain traction among voters. He ended his campaign after finishing next-to-last in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Afterward, du Pont remained engaged in politics. He frequently wrote opinion pieces for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and co-founded the online public policy journal IntellectualCapital.com. He also served as chairman of Hudson Institute, the National Review Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan public policy research organization.

Pierre du Pont IV was born Jan. 22, 1935, in Delaware. After attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he graduated from Princeton University in 1956 with an engineering degree. Following a four-year stint in the Navy, he obtained a law degree from Harvard University in 1963.

He joined the Du Pont Company, where he held several positions, resigning as a quality control supervisor in 1968 to begin his political career.

After running unopposed for a state House seat in 1968, he immediately set his sights on Congress, running as a fiscal conservative and winning the first of three terms in 1970.

Elected governor in 1976, du Pont fought successfully to restore financial integrity to a state he had declared “bankrupt” shortly after his inauguration. He presided over two income tax cuts; constitutional amendments restricting state spending and requiring three-fifths votes in the legislature to raise taxes; and establishment of an independent revenue forecasting panel.

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After a rocky start with Democratic legislators, including an embarrassing override of a 1977 budget veto, du Pont forged successful relationships with lawmakers from both parties to tackle thorny issues including prison overcrowding and corruption and school desegregation. He was re-elected in a landslide in 1980, winning a record 71 percent of the vote and becoming the first two-term governor in Delaware in 20 years.

In his second term, du Pont signed landmark legislation that loosened Delaware’s banking laws, including removing the cap on interest rates that banks could charge customers. The Financial Center Development Act made Delaware a haven for some of the country’s largest credit card issuers.

Under du Pont’s leadership, Delaware also established a nonprofit employment counseling and job placement program for Delaware high school seniors not bound for college. It served as the model for a national program adopted by several other states.

Prohibited by law from seeking a third term, du Pont briefly withdrew to the private sector, joining a Wilmington law firm in 1985. A year and a half later, he announced his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, becoming the first declared candidate in the 1988 campaign.

During an appearance at the Hotel du Pont in downtown Wilmington, where du Pont announced he was abandoning his presidential campaign, he praised an electoral process that gave a shot at the White House to a former small-state governor with unorthodox ideas.

“You’ve given me the opportunity of a lifetime. You listened, you considered and you chose. I could not have asked for any more,” du Pont said. “For in America, we do not promise that everyone wins, only that everyone gets a chance to try.”

Du Pont is survived by his wife of over 60 years, the former Elise R. Wood; a daughter and three sons; and 10 grandchildren.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a memorial service will be held at a later date, Perkins said.


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