As federal prosecutors reveal, the Illinois electric utility company, ComEd, “has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates” Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Bribery scheme smears ‘Public Official A’
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker called for the resignation of the state’s most powerful lawmaker on Friday. Michael Madigan “must resign,” if the bribery charges against him are true, the Governor laments, and it looks like they are.
Madigan is a powerful force in Chicagoland’s deep dish politics, also serving as the Illinois Democratic Party chairman. At least, for now. Everybody knows that he’s the infamous “Public Official A” named in a “deferred prosecution agreement” alleging bribery and corruption to benefit the utility between 2011 and 2019. ComEd just agreed to pay $200 million to resolve the federal criminal investigation against them. They also agreed to rat out Madigan and other Illinois government officials.
Through his office spokesperson, Maura Possley, Madigan swears up and down he did nothing wrong. His statement is carefully worded to avoid confirming bribery charges nonetheless. “He will cooperate and respond to those requests for documents, which he believes will clearly demonstrate that he has done nothing criminal or improper.” Actually, his lawyers will fill out the paperwork and generally object to the basis and need for every single item until they drag it out a few years.
A deal to go easy
The feds announced their deal to go easy on the utility company after ComEd “agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Madigan.” The company formally admitted that between 2011 and 2019 they set up bogus cushy jobs and vendor subcontracts “for various associates of a high-level elected official for the state of Illinois.” That “high-level elected official” was Madigan.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office “identified the high-level elected official” as “Public Official A” in a news release. Then, the deferred prosecution agreement for ComEd, which was filed in federal court, notes “Public Official A” is “the Illinois House speaker,” without naming his name. Madigan is the longest-serving state House speaker in modern American history. He’s been on the job for more than 32 years so was definitely in the slot since 2011. As Speaker of the House, he was in a position to grant the legislative favors alleged in the bribery charges.
“The speaker has a lot that he needs to answer for, to authorities, to investigators, and most importantly, to the people of Illinois,” Pritzker slammed. “If these allegations of wrongdoing by the speaker are true, there is no question that he will have betrayed the public trust and he must resign.” Bribery is something Chicago is famous for but they like to keep it in the back room where it belongs. Just ask Rahm Emanuel.
Something really solid
According to the federal prosecuting attorney, John Lausch, the agreement with ComEd “speaks for itself. It also speaks volumes about the nature of the very stubborn public corruption problem we have here in Illinois.” A former federal prosecutor explains that it looks like the government has been after Madigan for years and must have found “something really solid” to club him with in the bribery scheme. “To put it bluntly, they’re coming for him,” Turner said. “They’ll have some people who are very credible. With bribes, there’s a money trail, good documentation, and witness testimony corroborated by documents can make the case extremely strong.”
The way the bribery worked, Madigan “controlled what measures were called for a vote in the Illinois House of Representatives.” He was able to use his pull in political circles to exert “substantial influence over lawmakers concerning legislation affecting ComEd.” As prosecutors note, “the alleged bribery scheme was orchestrated “to influence and reward the official’s efforts to assist ComEd with respect to legislation concerning ComEd and its business. That included arranging jobs and vendor contracts for Madigan allies and workers, including for people from his political operation, who performed little or no work.”