America’s longest-serving state House speaker has been caught in what federal authorities called a “bribery scheme.”
According to Breitbart, Democrat Mike Madigan, who serves as speaker of the Illinois state House, “was implicated Friday in a years-long bribery scheme involving power company ComEd.”
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois revealed that a criminal investigation into the “years-long bribery scheme” has ended in a “deferred prosecution agreement” that requires ComEd, “the largest electric utility in Illinois,” to pay some $200 million in fines. According to Breitbart, the release didn’t identify Madigan by name, but made clear that the top Democrat was involved.
The release noted, however, that prosecution won’t be pursued unless ComEd, short for Commonwealth Edison Company, “fails to completely perform or fulfill each of its obligations under the agreement during the three-year term.”
Corruption in Illinois
According to the release, the alleged bribery scheme spanned from 2011 to 2019. “During that time,” the U.S. attorney’s office said, “the Illinois General Assembly considered bills and passed legislation that had a substantial impact on ComEd’s operations and profitability, including legislation that affected the regulatory process used to determine the electricity rates ComEd charged its customers.”
The scheme “to influence and reward the official’s efforts to assist ComEd with respect to legislation concerning ComEd and its business” all occured under the watch of “Public Official A,” who Breitbart indicated was clearly Madigan. According to The New York Times, “Madigan’s associates indirectly received $1,324,500 from the program between 2011 and 2019.”
“He must be removed”
The reaction from lawmakers has been mixed. According to the Chicago Tribune, many Democrats indicated that they wanted to wait for further evidence before forcing out Madigan, who has served as the Illinois House speaker since 1983.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, for his part, wasn’t among them. “The speaker has a lot that he needs to answer for, to authorities, to investigators, and most importantly, to the people of Illinois,” the Democrat said in Chicago last week, according to the Associated Press. “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.”
A similar sentiment was expressed by Democrat State Sen. Melinda Bush. “We can’t allow this shameful behavior to continue — especially from someone who has a lead role in both the General Assembly and throughout the state,” she wrote in a statement cited by the Tribune. “The continuous ethics and legal violations have been swept under the rug for far too long.”
Bush said if Madigan is indicted, “he must be removed from leadership and resign immediately. Anyone in the Illinois General Assembly with ties to this ComEd scandal has betrayed the trust of the public. They must be held accountable,” she concluded.
“No wrongdoing here”
It remains to be seen if such accountability will ever materialize, however. Madigan, for his part, has released a statement denying all wrongdoing.
“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,” his office said, according to The New York Times. “He has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and has engaged in no wrongdoing here. Any claim to the contrary is unfounded.”