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State Rep. Mark Batinick and other Republicans are using the bribery scheme tied to House Speaker Michael Madigan to go after their Democratic election opponents.
Batinick, R-Plainfield, has turned up his attacks on Harry Benton, a Plainfield village trustee and the Democratic nominee for the 97th House District.
The incumbent has taken advantage of the scandal, in which the utility company Commonwealth Edison admitted to handing out benefits to close associates of Madigan in exchange for beneficial legislation.
Madigan was not charged with any crime and has denied wrongdoing, although several state legislators have called for his resignation over the scandal.
Batinick has repeatedly called for Madigan's resignation over the last several months and again after the announcement of a $200 million fine imposed on ComEd for the scheme. More recently, Batinick has focused his attacks on Benton, asking if he would also call on Madigan to step down.
"Month after month, Illinoisans see Madigan’s culture of corruption play out in Springfield, yet Mr. Benton remains silent,” Batinick said in a news release. “Rather than taking a stand for the 97th District and clean up Illinois, Mr. Benton would be a loyal vote to keep Madigan in power. Enough is enough. Mr.Benton must call for Madigan’s resignation or explain to Illinoisans why he believes Madigan should remain Speaker of the House."
In a statement through a spokesman, Benton did not answer whether he thinks Madigan should resign from his House seat or speakership, but instead attacked Batinick.
"What Representative Batinick won't acknowledge is that the need to reform government is bigger than any one person — because he doesn't want to talk about how he's failed to deliver real reform, and how he's still standing alongside the president who pardoned Rod Blagojevich," Benton said in the statement.
During a virtual press conference on Monday, Batinick again called out Benton. Batinick argued any claims Democrats had that they would fight corruption are undermined by taking money from the Democratic Party of Illinois, which he called "tainted funds." Madigan is the chair of the state party and Republicans argue that role gives him influence over rank and file members.
"Accepting money from a corrupt leadership organization doesn't mean you can claim to be fighting corruption," Batinick said.
State campaign finance records show the Democratic Party of Illinois donated about $29,000 just in the last few weeks to Benton's campaign.
Benton's spokesman, Bill Gorski, declined to address Batinick's point about campaign money from the Democratic Party of Illinois. Instead, Benton said in his statement he'd demand any politicians convicted of crimes to repay any money they received from taxpayers.
"I'm ready to work with anyone on either side of the aisle who is serious about reforming the system," Benton said in a statement. "But sadly Representative Batinick is too invested in his own partisan games to say the same."