When Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan publicly pulled the plug on a run for governor, she announced that she "never planned to run" for the state's top office as long as her father remained House speaker, given the inherent conflict.
On Wednesday, Speaker Michael Madigan indicated his continued presence on the political stage shouldn't have been much of a surprise to his daughter.
"Lisa and I had spoken about that on several occasions, and she knew very well that I did not plan to retire," the speaker told reporters before delivering remarks at a closed-door meeting of real estate appraisers gathered at the Union League Club of Chicago. "She knew what my position was. She knew."
The comments by the powerful Southwest Side Democrat added some less-than-flattering context to Lisa Madigan's political maneuvering. Knowing her father's intent to stay didn't stop her from securing $1.5 million during the first half of the year from political donors who thought she might run for governor. The attorney general didn't tell the world that she had nixed a governor campaign until after the second fundraising quarter had ended.
The attorney general's re-election campaign declined to comment Wednesday. Lisa Madigan has denied that she misled donors who hoped she might challenge Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, saying she was upfront that she hadn't yet made up her mind.
It was unclear, as is often the case when political questions and the Madigans intersect, whether the speaker was offering a public brushback to his daughter, who a month earlier had laid much of the blame at his feet for deciding not to run for governor.
"I feel strongly that the state would not be well served by having a governor and speaker of the House from the same family and have never planned to run for governor if that would be the case," the attorney general said in a statement issued at the time. "With Speaker Madigan planning to continue in office, I will not run for governor."
Attorney General Madigan's decision not to run for governor came amid increasing scrutiny of Speaker Madigan's involvement in an ongoing scandal at Metra, where former CEO Alex Clifford has said he was forced out after refusing to give in to the speaker's patronage demands. Speaker Madigan maintains he did nothing wrong and has requested that a legislative ethics panel look into the matter.
Meanwhile, Speaker Madigan expressed disappointment that lawmakers would miss another paycheck before a judge rules on a lawsuit he and Senate President John Cullerton filed to overturn Quinn's decision to block lawmaker salaries.
Quinn used his veto power to eliminate lawmakers' pay last month, saying they shouldn't be paid until they send him legislation to overhaul the state's public employee pension system. Madigan and Cullerton argue that the move violates the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.
Oral arguments in the case won't be heard until Sept. 18, meaning lawmakers will miss another paycheck Sept. 1. Quinn contends that lawmakers have an easy fix: cut a pension deal and then vote to override his elimination of legislative salaries. Lawmakers contend that an override would only validate a move they say is unconstitutional, saying future governors could withhold legislative pay anytime they don't get what they want.
Some members of a special committee convened to forge a pension compromise have said the governor's action won't affect how quickly they work. According to Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, who is on the panel, there's no reason the group couldn't unveil a consensus on a pension fix as soon as next week. Brady, however, contended that Quinn's decision to eliminate salaries has gotten in the way of a resolution.
"There's no question in the public view the governor hit, if not a home run, a grand slam because no one is going to feel sorry about legislators getting paid," said Brady, a Republican governor candidate. "(But) the divide the governor has created is not going to help our efforts in trying to get members of the General Assembly to support these (pension) reforms."
Indeed, Speaker Madigan cautioned Wednesday that simply putting forth a new plan isn't enough to get a bill on Quinn's desk — it will also require 60 yes votes in the House and 30 in the Senate.
"It doesn't make much sense to go (to Springfield) and consider a bill if we don't have the required number of votes to pass it," Madigan said.
Tribune reporter Rick Pearson contributed.
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