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Ethics panel to investigate Madigan's Metra role

SPRINGFIELD – House Speaker Michael Madigan will be investigated by the Legislative Ethics Commission, a move he requested.

The eight-member bipartisan commission voted Thursday to investigate whether Madigan and fellow Democratic state Reps. Luis Arroyo and Elizabeth Hernandez interfered with Metra personnel matters.

Following a Regional Transportation Authority meeting in which former Metra CEO Alex Clifford testified last week, the Legislature's inspector general Tom Homer said he planned to investigate the matter. The commission's vote gives him the formal authority to do so.

Madigan, a Democrat who's been at the House helm for 28 of the past 30 years, sent a letter last Friday encouraging the commission to investigate allegations that he pressured Clifford on jobs and construction contracts.

Madigan also wants them to look into the circumstances surrounding his involvement in supporting a Metra supervisor's recommendation to give an employee a pay boost.

"I am confident my actions were not inappropriate or violative of any applicable law or ethical rule," Madigan wrote.

In an eight-page memo, Clifford accused agency board members of retaliating against him because he refused to bow to patronage demands, among them from Madigan, who is also the state Democratic party chair and arguably the most powerful lawmaker in Illinois.

Clifford also said Arroyo pressured him to appoint a candidate for a deputy director position, and that Hernandez complained her husband, a Metra employee, was mistreated.

The commission will vote on possible sanctions, including a $5,000 fine, for the lawmakers after Homer's investigation is done, according to the state's ethics act. Homer has called the law governing conflicts and ethics standards a "toothless tiger," as there are few public disclosure requirements and lawmakers can't be suspended.


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