Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has been implicated in a long-running bribery scheme that is now the center of a federal criminal investigation.
Madigan, a Democrat, is believed to be the elected official identified as "Public Official A" in the release.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, electric utility company ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve an investigation around arranged jobs, subcontracted work, and monetary payments related to those jobs.
Though Madigan is not named specifically in the release, a deferred prosecution agreement filed in the federal court confirms that "Public Official A" is the Illinois House Speaker.
More details on the ongoing investigation below:
As Speaker of the House, Madigan has been long considered the state's most powerful lawmaker.
Now, the Governor is calling on Madigan to resign if the allegations are indeed true.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan “must resign” if allegations of corruption are true against the fellow Democrat long considered the state’s most powerful lawmaker.
Madigan, who also serves as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, denied wrongdoing through a party spokeswoman, who said he received subpoenas for documents Friday morning.
“He will cooperate and respond to those requests for documents, which he believes will clearly demonstrate that he has done nothing criminal or improper,” spokeswoman Maura Possley said in a statement.
Federal prosecutors said electric utility ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Madigan. They say the company has admitted that from 2011 to 2019 it arranged for jobs and vendor subcontracts “for various associates of a high-level elected official for the state of Illinois.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office identified the high-level elected official as “Public Official A” in a news release. A deferred prosecution agreement for ComEd filed in federal court states that “Public Official A” is the Illinois House speaker, but Madigan — who is the longest-serving state House speaker in modern American history — is not mentioned by name.
“The speaker has a lot that he needs to answer for, to authorities, to investigators, and most importantly, to the people of Illinois,” Pritzker said during a stop in suburban Chicago. “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.”
U.S. Attorney John Lausch said at a news conference that 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,” he said.
Lausch wouldn’t comment on the identity of Public Official A, saying his office doesn’t identify people if they have not been charged. But he said the investigation is “vibrant” and will continue, and he asked for people with information to contact the FBI.
Former federal prosecutor Phil Turner, now a Chicago defense attorney, said it’s likely the government has pursued Madigan for years and with the ComEd allegations, found “something really solid” to reach him.
“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.”
If the allegations are true, this would be another example of "absolute power corrupting absolutely."
Part of what makes Madigan such a formidable politician is that he also controls four campaign funds. This means that he also controls millions in contributions.
Despite managing the campaign funds, there is no current evidence or investigation of wrongdoing in that regard.
Illinois has been viewed as one of the most corrupt states in the nation.
Part of what makes this case so alarming is that the alleged crime spans nearly a decade long.
Local WGLT News confirms that the corruption scheme lasted almost 10 years:
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.
As of this writing, Madigan's office has admitted no wrongdoing and stands by the claim that:
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.
However, this appears to be the exact opposite of what federal prosecutors are claiming about "Public Offical A."
While it has not been officially confirmed that Madigan is "Public Official A," the deferred prosecution agreement for ComEd filed in federal court did state that it is the Illinois Speaker of the House.
The investigation is ongoing.