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Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan Indicted on Racketeering, Bribery Charges

March 3, 2022 by Reece Nations
Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan Indicted on Racketeering, Bribery Charges
Then Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Ill., speaks to lawmakers while on the House floor at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman File)

CHICAGO — Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was indicted on federal charges Wednesday alleging he was involved in a racketeering conspiracy.

Madigan served as speaker from 1983 to 2021 and also held numerous other government positions, including representative of Illinois’s 22nd District, committeeman for Chicago’s 13th Ward, chairman of both the Illinois Democratic Party and the 13th Ward Democratic Organization, as well as working as a partner at the Chicago law firm Madigan & Getzendanner. Madigan allegedly used these roles to progress the goals of his criminal enterprise.

The son of a Chicago precinct captain, Madigan was first inaugurated to the Illinois House in 1971 and forged a reputation for being a savvy legislator who advocated strongly for strict party discipline. Madigan was the longest-serving state House speaker in modern U.S. history and is just the latest example of a prominent Illinois politician swept up by a federal corruption investigation.

Madigan is charged with a total of 22 counts and stands accused of leading a criminal enterprise for almost a decade that strengthened his political power and wealth, according to a copy of the indictment obtained by The Well News. The indictment alleges that Madigan directed his longtime ally and former Illinois House Rep. Michael McClain to carry out illegal activities.

McClain is himself charged with racketeering conspiracy and individual counts of using interstate facilities in aid of bribery and wire fraud. McClain represented utility company Commonwealth Edison as a lobbyist, and the two allegedly worked out an arrangement with ComEd that entailed securing jobs and contracts for Madigan’s associates in exchange for beneficial treatment in regulatory rules.

“I was never involved in any criminal activity,” Madigan said in a written statement. “The government is attempting to criminalize a routine constituent service: job recommendations. That is not illegal, and these other charges are equally unfounded.”

Madigan continued, “Throughout my 50 years as a public servant, I worked to address the needs of my constituents, always keeping in mind the high standards required and the trust the public placed in me. I adamantly deny these accusations and look back proudly on my time as an elected official, serving the people of Illinois.”

Timothy Mapes, the former longtime chief of staff of Madigan’s office, was indicted in May 2021 for lying under oath to a federal grand jury investigating ComEd. Former ComEd executive Fidel Marquez later pleaded guilty to bribery charges in September and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors and four others were indicted in November for their role in the bribery scheme.

Madigan denied any wrongdoing in a letter to his House colleagues when scrutiny over the investigation picked up. After failing to garner enough support to retain his position as speaker in 2021, Madigan resigned from the legislature and as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois in February of that year.

“The indictment also accuses Madigan of engaging in multiple schemes to secure business for his law firm, including work from parties with business before the State of Illinois and the city of Chicago,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch, Jr. said during a press conference on Wednesday.

“The indictment alleges a long-term multifaceted scheme to use public positions for unlawful gain, including no-show or low-show jobs for Madigan’s political workers and private gain for Madigan himself. The schemes describe [the] involvement of a leader of state government, one of his close confidants, top management of a large public utility, consultants and others.”

Alan Raphael, an associate professor of law and social justice at Loyola University Chicago, told The Well News that while Madigan may have seemed untouchable, close observers had expected some action to be taken against him for some time after he was named in indictments filed against his close associates in 2020.

It is likely that the reason why the charges against Madigan took so long despite others already being implicated in the same criminal scheme is that prosecutors took great effort in securing other people to cooperate in the investigation.

So far, there has been no indication that either McClain or Mapes intend to flip on Madigan and testify against him in court. The indictment alleges that many of the conversations Madigan and his associates would have about illegal activities were shrouded in a secret code to keep a low profile.

In his lifetime, Raphael said four governors of Illinois have served time in federal prison and 37 aldermen have been convicted since 1969. The case against Madigan hinges on what ComEd officials will testify to and whether prosecutors can convince the jury that conversations were in fact laced in code to obscure his wrongdoings.

“One of the things I noticed in the indictment was that it talks about how Madigan didn’t have these conversations [himself], other people did,” Raphael said. “And so, the question is, are they doing so on his behest.”

Arraignment dates have yet to be set for either Madigan or McClain.

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com.

 

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