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Illinois House Speaker Implicated In ComEd Bribery Scheme

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan
Credit Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

The U.S. Attorney’s office says electric utility ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. 

Federal prosecutors announced Friday that ComEd had admitted that it arranged jobs, subcontracted work and made monetary payments related to those jobs. That elected official is identified as “Public Official A” in the release.

A deferred prosecution agreement for ComEd filed in federal court states that “Public Official A” is the Illinois House Speaker, but Madigan is not mentioned by name.  "Public Official A controlled what measures were called for a vote in the Illinois House of Representatives and also exerted substantial influence over fellow lawmakers concerning legislation affecting ComEd," said U.S. Attorney John Lausch.  

Madigan's office issued a statement: “The Speaker has never helped someone find a job with the expectation that the person would not be asked to perform work by their employer, nor did he ever expect to provide anything to a prospective employer if it should choose to hire a person he recommended.

 He has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and has engaged in no wrongdoing here. Any claim to the contrary is unfounded."“This morning the Speaker accepted subpoenas related to his various offices for documents, asking for, among other things, documents related to possible job recommendations. He will cooperate and respond to those requests for documents, which he believes will clearly demonstrate that he has done nothing criminal or improper."

Speaking at an event Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he was furious reading the allegations.   As for Madigan, Pritzker said "If it turns out these things are true, he's going to have to resign."

A House Democrat, Kelly Cassidy of Chicago, made a similar statement. "The conduct alleged is outrageous, and comes at the end of a long chain of unacceptable breaches of the public trust not unlike the pattern of 'lather, rinse, repeat I referenced a few years ago in discussing the allegations of sexual harassment in his office," said Rep. Cassidy. "I agree with the Governor. If any of these allegations are true and Speaker Madigan or those closest to him are involved, then he must resign."

Lausch said this case speaks volumes about the nature of the "stubborn public corruption problem" in Illinois.

"The admitted facts detail a nearly decade long corruption scheme involving top management of a large public utility, leaders in state government, consultants and several others inside and outside state government," he said. 

Republicans have been quick to weigh in. “At the same time Illinois Democrats are pushing for a massive tax increase, residents are again confronted with Democratic corruption at the highest levels of their state government.  If the allegations reported today against Speaker Madigan turn out to be true, then he should resign," said Illinois Senate GOP Leader Bill Brady. 

"The announcement against ComEd and “Public Official A” and the ongoing investigation of Cook County Property tax corruption are another sad commentary on the state of our state. The deep federal investigations into the highest members of the Democratic Party and their abuse of the Cook County property tax system is finally coming to light," Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said.  

"For too long, one man, Speaker Madigan, has held so much power, and the old axiom holds true: power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The allegations presented today are troubling and downright depressing.  Speaker Madigan needs to “speak” up on this issue, and if the allegations are true, he needs to resign immediately.  Just as important, I hope that members of the General Assembly in the majority party, the Democratic Party, have the courage to finally stand up and demand an explanation of their leader that they have for decades elected to rule. The citizens of Illinois deserve so much better,” Durkin added.

Lausch added the investigation is ongoing. 

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2020 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

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