SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — New Illinois House Speaker Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch said Saturday that he has stepped back from his role as a partner in a law firm that provides services to local governments in the state.
Welch was elected earlier this month by the House to replace fellow Democrat Michael Madigan after Madigan was implicated in an ongoing bribery investigation.
“When I was elected Speaker, I promised to model the kind of leadership we need to restore the public’s confidence in our ethics,” Welch said in a statement. “As a simple first step, I have stepped back from my role as partner at Ancel Glink. I will remain with the firm, but as of yesterday my relationship with the firm is of counsel. This is similar to the course of action taken by other leaders in the General Assembly.”
Madigan, 78, is the longest-serving legislative leader in modern U.S. history. He first was inaugurated as a House member a half-century ago.
Last summer, Madigan was identified in a Justice Department investigation as the beneficiary of a yearslong bribery venture involving ComEd. It has thus far yielded a $200 million fine on the utility giant, a ComEd executive’s guilty plea and indictments of four others, including Madigan’s closest confidante. Madigan has not been charged with a crime and has denied wrongdoing.
Welch, the first Black speaker of the Illinois House, received 70 votes from the 118-member House just days after emerging as the front-runner alternative to Madigan.
He is from the Chicago suburb of Hillside and has spent eight years in the House.