The dethroned Illinois House President Michael Madigan received good news on Friday.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a lengthy appeal in a federal court case over whether Madigan fielded bogus candidates to help him win the 2016 Democratic primary for the seat of Southwest Side Illinois House he had occupied for decades.
Madigan’s challenger Jason Gonzales has asked for up to $ 2 million in damages in a federal lawsuit in which the president and his Democratic organization backed two candidates with Hispanic names in the primary to dilute the vote for opposition and give the Democratic leader a clearer path to victory. A United States District Court judge closed the case.
Madigan won the primary with 65% of the vote.
The high court refusing to consider the appeal request ended a years-long fight that shed light on the inner workings of Madigan’s political organization through dozens of depositions, including the only one that the speaker stated to have never made.
“We are extremely disappointed,” said Tony Peraica, lawyer for Gonzales and a former Republican member of Cook County Council.
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Peraica noted that the High Court has often “hated dealing with political matters,” but said he had hoped the conservative-leaning court would have made an exception this time around.
A spokeswoman said Madigan had not commented on Friday’s decision.
Madigan failed to retain the presidency in January when a faction of his own House Democrats refused to grant him another term at the helm despite his national record of 36 years as head of a legislative body in the state.
During his final year as a speaker, Madigan had been embroiled in the vast ComEd bribe scandal in which the company paid a federal fine of $ 200 million. He has not been charged with a crime and has denied committing any wrongdoing.
In the trial, Gonzales argued that the lower courts incorrectly dismissed the case on the grounds that voters knew about the alleged fictitious candidates because he raised the issue several times during the campaign, effectively giving voters a chance to ” assess the question when filling out their ballots.
Gonzales had maintained that such logic had “a chilling effect on future campaign discourse.” He did not seek to annul the election, but argued that damages should be awarded because of Madigan’s alleged “deception on the face of the ballot”.
In his testimony, Madigan denied ordering anyone who worked for him or was associated with him to recruit candidates to run against Gonzales.
But even initially dismissing the case, US District Judge Matthew Kennelly called it “undisputed” that some members of Madigan’s political organization worked to put the two alleged shams – Grasiela Rodriguez and Joe Barboza – on the ballot.
Kennelly also wrote that “the evidence supports a reasonable inference that Madigan authorized or at least was aware of the recruiting effort.”
But Kennelly explained that Gonzales made Madigan’s “deceptive tactics a central issue in his campaign” and the media publicized the allegations. Such publicity “put the alleged misconduct directly into the political realm, allowing voters to berate Madigan in electing his challenger,” Kennelly wrote.
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