Illinois state Rep. Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) on the House floor | repugaste.com
Illinois state Rep. Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) knows only one thing for sure regarding the ongoing federal corruption probe enveloping state government in Springfield and powerful Chicago Democrats such as longtime House Speaker Mike Madigan – where there is smoke, there is fire.
“It sounds to me like the FBI and the U.S. District Attorney for Northern Illinois, after having been looking at this for a while, aren’t doing it for nothing,” Ugaste told the McHenry Times. “That’s just how the system works.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, four different individuals have confirmed federal agents had plenty of questions about Madigan, the longest serving member in state government, when they questioned them as part of their investigation. Topics have included Madigan's connections with Commonwealth Edison lobbyists and state and local jobs doled out to some of his handpicked allies.
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago)
“They have questions they want answers to,” Ugaste said. “If there is any wrongdoing going on, this is definitely time for something like this to happen.”
Despite the cloud of scandal hanging over Springfield and a recent report placing the financial burden of corruption at $550 million per year, critics charge that Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has still been slow to act on anything that may provide meaningful change. Republican legislators have been pushing a variety of ethics-reform bills such as placing restrictions on state lawmakers becoming lobbyists and giving the legislative inspector general the power to launch investigations, but none of them have made any progress through the General Assembly.
If the allegations about Madigan are proved to be true, Ugaste hints that things could finally change.
“If charges are brought and cases filed, it’s something we all have to look at because it would involve people making policy decisions in state and that are a big part of the leadership,” Ugaste said.