The State of Illinois is no stranger to corruption. I wrote last fall regarding some of the shady goings-on in the Land of Lincoln.
Today, it was announced that ComEd, Illinois’ largest electric utility, would be paying a $200 Million fine in relation to a bribery charge. The criminal complaint was filed today. The charge will be dropped provided ComEd cooperates with authorities and meets certain stipulations.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
Prosecutors alleged that ComEd “admitted that its efforts to influence and reward the high-level elected official” included legislation that affected the regulatory process used to determine the electricity rates ComEd charged its customers.
Prosecutors went on to describe the alleged scheme.
“The company admitted that it arranged for jobs and vendor subcontracts for Public Official A’s political allies and workers even in instances where those people performed little or no work that they were purportedly hired by ComEd to perform,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement.
Of particular note:
In a criminal filing, prosecutors say Public Official A was the House speaker, which is Madigan. The veteran 13th Ward politician’s associates received $1.32 million from 2011-2019, prosecutors said.
As noted in an earlier piece:
Illinois has faced some serious economic woes of late. Income tax rate hikes, oppressive property tax rates (the second highest in the country), negative population growth, and a pension crisis have hurt the Land of Lincoln. Many point to the progressive blue policies emanating out of Chicago and a Mike Madigan dominated Springfield as the driver of this. (Madigan has been in the Illinois House since 1971 and served as its Speaker since 1983, aside from two brief years of Republican control in 1995-97.)
The Trib further sets out some of the issues surrounding Madigan and his cronies:
The Tribune first reported last December that federal authorities have asked questions about Madigan and his political operation as part of an ongoing investigation, according to four people who have been interviewed.
The sources, all of whom requested anonymity, said FBI agents and prosecutors asked about connections between Commonwealth Edison lobbyists and Madigan, lobbyists giving contracts to people tied to the speaker, and city, state and suburban government jobs held by his associates.
The federal investigation into ComEd’s lobbying efforts put a spotlight on one of the most exclusive rites of passage in Springfield: Democratic lawmakers and top staffers to Speaker Madigan leaving state government to push the utility giant’s agenda in the halls of the Capitol.
In 2019 alone, the lobbying team for ComEd and parent company Exelon included nine former Democratic lawmakers, including two recent members of Madigan’s leadership team and the daughter of a former Cook County Democratic chairman. Also on the list was a former Madigan political director and two of the speaker’s former legal counsels.
Though no charges have been filed against Madigan at this point, it does appear the chickens may be coming home to roost. The 78-year-old Speaker has confirmed he was served with subpoenas per this press release:
Below is a statement on behalf of Speaker Madigan. There will be no further comment.
“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.”
His fellow Democrat, State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) issued a statement regarding the probe this morning which certainly intimates she believes the investigation is liable to ensnare Madigan:
My statement. pic.twitter.com/JmdC81dlj2
— Melinda Bush (@Melinda4Senate) July 17, 2020
Will we finally see a changing of the guard in Illinois? I certainly hope so for the sake of my Illinois friends.