CHICAGO, Ill. – Rep. Edward Guerra Kodatt – a handpicked successor of former Rep. Mike Madigan – officially resigned Wednesday morning, just three days after his appointment. The south-west Chicago native sent an email to the House Clerk declaring his resignation Tuesday night. However, staff received the notice Wednesday.
The longest-serving lawmaker in Illinois history suggested his successor should resign late Tuesday night. The 26-year-old received 63% of the weighted vote in order to win former Rep. Mike Madigan’s seat on Sunday.
“After learning of alleged questionable conduct by Mr. Kodatt, it was suggested that he resign as state representative for the 22nd District,” stated Madigan and 13th Ward Alderman Marty Quinn. “We are committed to a zero tolerance policy in the workplace.”
Madigan’s hand-picked successor
The former House Speaker put his 56% of the weighted vote toward Kodatt Sunday morning. But, Madigan clearly changed his mind once aware of the “questionable conduct.” No details have been released about the alleged misconduct and state leaders won’t comment on the situation. Many already questioned Kodatt’s background since he worked as an infrastructure manager for Quinn, one of Madigan’s closest allies, since 2017.
“There’s no reason I would assume, as bad as this seems to be to make a move like this, that someone in Madigan’s operation didn’t know what was in this young man’s background,” said Rep. Tim Butler.
The Springfield Republican believes the Democratic Party of Illinois (DPI) should use the full 30 days to appoint a replacement. However, the second committee hearing to pick a representative for the 22nd District will take place Thursday morning. Madigan also stated committee members will select a candidate who initially presented Sunday.
“I believe the most equitable way to proceed is to nominate the candidate who received the second-highest vote count,” Madigan stated. “It is my intention to nominate Angelica Guerrero Cuellar.”
What about the salary?
Comptroller Susana Mendoza says Kodatt could receive a full month’s salary – $5,788.66 – even though he only worked two days. Under current state law, Mendoza explained any legislator has the ability to claim the month’s salary for just one day’s work.
The Comptroller’s office delivered a letter to Kodatt’s house since his email on file no longer worked. Mendoza says he still has the opportunity to decline the salary.
“Just do the right thing for the taxpayers,” Mendoza added. “Don’t ask them to pay you for a full month’s salary for just a few hours, literally, of being a state representative and to help set the tone for the change that is necessary.”
“No Exit Bonus” proposal
Still, Mendoza emphasized the next representative could also receive the full salary if appointed Thursday. That would leave the Comptroller’s office paying a combined $11,000 to Kodatt and his successor.
“I need them to officially tell me as comptroller that they will not take the money,” Mendoza said. “Then, that way, I’m not legally obligated to pay them. Hopefully, the new representative will gladly do that.”
Mendoza stressed this is exactly why lawmakers should pass her “No Exit Bonus” proposal introduced last year. The bill had bipartisan support and would only allow lawmakers to get paid for each day they work. Butler supports Mendoza’s ideas, just as he has co-sponsored similar legislation filed by Democrats and Republicans.
“This is something that we should have taken care of a long time ago,” Butler explained. “It’s something that’s been talked about for a while now. Yet, it seems that former Rep. Kodatt – kind of humorous to say that in those terms – could be eligible for almost $6,000 in salary. That’s really insane to think about.”
Under current law, Madigan is also eligible for the full-month salary, even though his resignation was effective February 18. Several former lawmakers caught in corruption scandals received “exit bonuses” when they left office, including Rep. Luis Arroyo and the late Sen. Martin Sandoval. Mendoza noted former Rep. Nick Sauer also exploited the current law to get the larger paycheck after he faced online sex charges for sharing explicit photos of an ex-girlfiend.
“We really need to close it,” Mendoza said. “And we need to make an example of the people who abuse it.”