Oct 6, 2021 - Politics

Oral history on Illinois' most powerful politician launches

Politician at a podium.

Michael Madigan, former speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, speaks in 2015. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Justin interviewed several Illinois politicians and journalists to help tell the story of former Illinois speaker Michael Madigan, the longest serving state house speaker in U.S. history. The podcast comes out today in association with the Better Government Association.

  • It includes stories from four governors, lawmakers and former staffers inside the Madigan organization.

Why it matters: Madigan stepped down as representative earlier this year and is currently the focus of a federal investigation stemming from the bribery scandal at ComEd, though he has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Flashback(s): He was notorious for understanding the rules of the Illinois government better than anybody. This might be because Madigan wrote many of the rules and was a delegate at the Illinois Constitutional Convention in 1970.

  • Former Governor Jim Edgar named his heart attack after Speaker Madigan. He also recounts stories of lunches at the governor's mansion where all Madigan ate was an apple, cut up on a plate.
  • Former Governor Bruce Rauner goes into detail about their monumental political fights, including a breakfast where Madigan said, "Bruce, I do two things. I manage power and make money from managing power."

The five-part series launches today and continues through October.


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