A vanquished challenger to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against the longtime Democratic leader, accusing him of using dirty tactics to beat him in a March primary election.
Chicago Democrat Jason Gonzales accused Madigan of defaming him and crowding the primary with "phony" candidates to dilute his opposition.
Gonzalez named the 45-year incumbent, the speaker's political funds, a top aide and his two other opponents, among others, in a 39-count lawsuit over an alleged scheme to swing the four-way race in the speaker's favor.
"Madigan won because he engaged in dirty, illegal, fraudulent tactics," Gonzales, who finished second in his bid to topple Madigan with 27 percent of the vote, said in a telephone interview. Madigan received slightly more than 65 percent.
Madigan said in a statement that the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, was "without merit." "Voters of my district soundly re-nominated me based on my strong record of service, giving me more than 65 percent of the vote, and they emphatically rejected Jason Gonzales because they knew he couldn't be trusted," said Madigan, who is Illinois' longest-serving officeholder, representing Chicago's southwest side since 1971.
Neither Grasiela Rodriguez nor Joe Barboza, the two other candidates named in Gonzales' lawsuit, could be reached for comment.