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State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit To Challenge Michael Madigan For Illinois House Speaker

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego) plans to run against House Speaker Michael Madigan for his leadership post after the new Illinois General Assembly is sworn in next year.

Kifowit was one of the first Democrats in the Illinois House to demand Madigan resign as speaker, after he was implicated in the ComEd bribery scandal.

Earlier this year, federal prosecutors accused ComEd of a yearslong bribery scheme that sought to curry Madigan's favor in advancing legislation relaxing state regulation of ComEd's rates by directing $1.3 million in payments to the speaker's associates. ComEd acknowledged it stood to benefit by more than $150 million from that legislation.

ComEd has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the feds, and has agreed to pay a $200 million fine, enact a number of reforms, and cooperate with investigators in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges in 2023 if ComEd lives up to its obligations.

Madigan has not been charged with a crime, and has denied any wrongdoing.

A four-term legislator, Kifowit is running unopposed in the November election, and announced Thursday she plans to challenge Madigan for the speakership.

This summer, Kifowit called on Madigan to resign "for compromising the integrity of the office and undermining the public trust."

"The response from Michael Madigan was to double down and has remained that way. It is clear to me that he doesn't hold the same values that I do and falls short of what the public expects from an elected official. Therefore, I am announcing today that I intend to seek the democratic nomination for Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 102nd General Assembly," Kifowit said in a statement.

Kifowit said the state's elected leaders should be held to a higher standard, not simply whether they broke the law. She said the deferred prosecution agreement with ComEd makes it clear Madigan "has compromised the integrity of the Office of the Speaker of the House and undermined the public trust."

"As every day passes, the people of Illinois have put up with this corruption for far too long. Every day we are seeing more and more self-serving actions by Michael Madigan and it is my feeling that there is more to come in the upcoming days," she said in a statement.

Kifowit said during her nearly eight years in office, she has seen other lawmakers intimidated into voting against legislation they wanted to support.

"This should not be tolerated. I will dedicate 100% of my time to the position of Speaker of the IL House of Representatives and be available for the members of the House at any time. Members will no longer be marginalized and intimidated or bullied; they will be respected as valuable members of our government," she said.

Madigan issued a statement saying he is "focused on the November election and addressing the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the workers, families and people of Illinois."

"I have spent my entire career supporting Democrats, regardless of differences in perspective within our party. We are at a critical juncture in our country, and all of us should be focused on coming together to defeat Donald Trump and repair the hate and division he has sown in our communities," Madigan said in a statement.

A Special Investigating Committee of the House has begun hearings on possible disciplinary charges, but Madigan and most other witnesses Republicans have sought to question have declined invitations to testify voluntarily. The six-member bipartisan committee could potentially subpoena Madigan and other witnesses on Republicans' list, but at least one Democrat on the panel would have to agree to do so.

Madigan has been speaker since 1983, except for two years in the 1990s when Republicans briefly gained control of the Illinois House.

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