Madigan’s Houdini act may be at an end

The deferred prosecution agreement announced today in which Commonwealth Edison will pay a $200 million fine could not be more devastating to the Illinois House Speaker, the longest-serving leader of any legislative body in American history.

Without naming him, U.S. Attorney John Lausch in the agreement and a statement of facts made it clear as could be that Madigan is at the center of a bribery scandal of stunning reach, even by Illinois corruption standards.   

No-work jobs to political associates, a hoped-for seat on ComEd’s board, internships for children associated with a friendly ward political organization, campaign cash, contracts to designated vendors, all and more were demanded by “Public Official A”—who, lest there be any doubt, also is identified as “the speaker of the Illinois House of representatives and the longest serving member of the Illinois House of Representatives.” 

Guess who that is?

Says the statement of facts attached to the deferred prosecution agreement: “In an effort to influence and reward Public Official A’s efforts, as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, to assist ComEd with respect to legislation concerning ComEd and its business, ComEd arranged for various associates of Public Official A, including Public Official A’s political allies and individuals who performed political work for Public Official A, to obtain jobs, vendor subcontracts, and monetary payments associated with those jobs and A-4 subcontracts from ComEd, even in instances where certain political allies and workers performed little or no work that they were purportedly hired to perform for ComEd.”

And ComEd didn’t just stumble on such a tactic to win approval of utility rate hikes and other ducats out of Springfield, the feds allege. No, Madigan and “Individual A”—who, by all accounts is former ComEd lobbyist and top Madigan legislative associate Michael McClain—“sought to obtain … jobs, vendor subcontracts and monetary payments” for precinct captains and others.”

Like for a retiring alderman, apparently Mike Zalewski, 23rd, who got $5,000 a month as a consulting subcontract for “Company A.” Company A wasn’t named, but according to the charges was paid $1.324 million over several years to hire friends and associates of Madigan and McClain. That sounds an awful lot like former City Club of Chicago chief Jay Doherty, who resigned after never explaining what he did to earn a reported $3.1 million in fees from ComEd.

Or the law firm reportedly retained by ComEd at the request of Madigan and associates.

No individual charges against anyone were announced. But the deferred prosecution agreement states that ComEd “will cooperate fully” in further investigations. Adds Lausch’s office in a statement: “The company will continue to provide such cooperation until all investigations and prosecutions arising out of the charged conduct are concluded.”

Madigan hasn’t said anything yet today. Even so, there is no immediate sign of rebellion in Madigan’s Democratic caucus.

The only ones as of this writing who have commented are representatives of the Republican Party of Illinois, which in a statement pointed to both the Madigan news and a Sun-Times report that the feds started asking about the controversial rehab of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Gold Coast mansion, in which the tax value of the property was slashed after the building’s toilets were removed.

“Even for a state with a history of corruption, this is unprecedented,” GOP chairman Tim Schneider said. “Crimes of bribery and tax fraud cannot be tolerated from our elected officials.”


via Crain’s Chicago Business

July 17, 2020 at 01:26PM

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