Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has been indicted on federal corruption charges.
The 106-page, 22 count indictment laid out by Federal prosecutor John Lausch says that Madigan used his Chicago 13th Ward power base as a center of criminal activity: “The indictment accuses Madigan of leading for nearly a decade a criminal enterprise whose purpose was to enhance Madigan’s political power and financial well-being while also generating income for his political allies and associates. The charges allege that Madigan used his various elected and professional positions to further the goals of the criminal enterprise. Those positions included Speaker of the Illinois House, Representative of Illinois’ 22nd District, committeeman for Chicago’s 13th Ward, Chairman of both the Illinois Democratic Party and the 13th Ward Democratic organization, and partner for the Chicago law firm of Madigan & Getzendanner.”
For the past four years, federal investigators and prosecutors have been encircling the former Democrat powerhouse of Illinois politics. Prosecutors all but named him outright in Commonwealth Edison’s deferred prosecution agreement in the summer of 2020 as “Public Official A” – in which the public utility admitted to a bribery scheme that gave Madigan associates do-nothing jobs, money, and contracts to curry his favor at the Illinois Capitol.
Madigan resigned his seat as a state representative in February 2021, little more than a month after he surrendered the gavle as Illinois Speaker of the House and as Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. Madigan had served in the Illinois House since 1971, and save for a few years, served as Speaker of the House since 1983.
Also charged in the indictment was Madigan’s longtime confidant, Michael McClain of Quincy, a former state legislator and lobbyist who is facing separate charges alleging he orchestrated an alleged bribery scheme by ComEd. McClain was charged along with former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd executive and lobbyist John Hooker, and former lobbyist and president of Chicago’s City Club Jay Doherty in November 2020. The charges allege that the 4 Madigan associates orchestrated a scheme at the utility through bribery conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd’s books and records to further curry favor and push money to Madigan and his associates. All 4 have plead not guilty and are scheduled to go to trial in September. The inner circle’s indictment followed a September 2020 guilty plea by a former ComEd vice president, Fidel Marquez.
Madigan’s indictment yesterday also accused Madigan of illegally soliciting business for his private property tax law firm during discussions to turn a state-owned parcel of land in Chinatown into a commercial development. Though the land deal never was consummated, it’s been a source of continued interest for federal investigators, who in 2020 subpoenaed Madigan’s office for records and communications he’d had with key players. According to the Chicago Tribune, it was former Chicago Alderman Danny Solis, who was secretly cooperating with the investigation, recorded numerous conversations with Madigan as part of the Chinatown land probe, including one where the speaker told Solis he was looking for a colleague to sponsor a House bill approving the land sale.
Further cracking of Madigan’s inner circle came in May of last year when his former chief of staff Timothy Mapes was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury about Madigan’s relationship with McClain as well as other matters involving the ComEd scheme. Mapes’ indictment alleged that he lied to the grand jury about McClain allegedly obtaining private jobs, contracts, and payments for others from ComEd in order to influence and reward Madigan.
In addition to the criminal charges, the indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation against both Madigan and McClain seeking $2.8 million in alleged ill-gotten gains. In the press conference yesterday, John Lausch says that Madigan’s tenure in politics was yet another sign of the state’s problems with public corruption: “Unfortunately, this type of criminal conduct drastically undermines the public’s confidence in our government. Simply put, it’s not a good thing.”
In a reaction statement released yesterday, Madigan again proclaimed his innocence to the charges, saying that prosecutors were “attempting to criminalize” legal political actions such as job recommendations. Madigan’s criminal defense lawyers, Sheldon Zenner and Gil Soffer, said in their own statement that the charges were “baseless” overreach by prosecutors and that the evidence would prove so in court.
Madigan and McClain are set to be arraigned on the charges March 9th before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole.