Indictment details 'Madigan enterprise' devoted to paying off former speaker and his allies
Then-House Speaker Mike Madigan during a floor session in 2020. [Justin Fowler/pool/SJ-R]
Former House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) was indicted Wednesday on 22 counts of bribery, racketeering and wire fraud in the culmination of a multi-year federal corruption probe that has already ensnared multiple people in his inner circle.
The 106-page indictment handed down by U.S. Attorney John Lausch described details of an intricate "enterprise" through which Madigan used his powers as speaker and 13th Ward Democratic committeeperson to dole out personal favors to allies.
"The purposes of the Madigan Enterprise included but were not limited to: (i) to exercise, to preserve, and to enhance Madigan's political power and financial well-being; (ii) to financially reward Madigan' political allies, political workers, and associates for their loyalty, association with, and work for Madigan; and (iii) to generate income for members and associates of the enterprise through illegal activities.," the indictment reads.
Madigan and his longtime confidante lobbyist Michael McClain were at the head of a multi-faceted racketeering conspiracy going back to at least 2011 and continuing through 2019, the indictment alleges. It detailed previously surfaced allegations that Madigan was advancing legislation favorable to ComEd in return for now-show jobs and other perks for his allies, plus new allegations that the speaker used his role in government to attract business to his private law firm.
"The indictment accuses Madigan of leading, for nearly a decade, a criminal enterprise whose purpose was to enhance Madigan's political power and financial wellbeing, while also generating income for his political allies and Associates," U.S. Attorney John Lausch said during a news conference announcing the indictment on Wednesday. "The charges allege that Madigan used his various elected and professional positions to further the goals of the criminal enterprise."
Madigan released a statement Wednesday saying he “never involved in any criminal activity."
“The government is attempting to criminalize a routine constituent service: job recommendations," the former speaker wrote. "That is not illegal, and these other charges are equally unfounded. 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.”
Madigan was the longest serving legislative leader in U.S. history until he resigned his seat in the Illinois House in February 2021 after giving up the speakership in January. A group of Democrats pledged not to vote for Madigan to serve another term as speaker after he became wrapped up in a wide-ranging public corruption investigation in 2020.
He was replaced in the speaker role by Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside), and Southwest Side Democratic party officials appointed Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar to finish Madigan's term in the House. Within weeks, Madigan stepped down as chair of the Illinois Democratic Party and was replaced in the political post by U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.)
- Welch elected speaker as Illinois enters new era of government
- Kelly elected chair of the Illinois Democratic Party despite fundraising questions
ComEd bribery allegations
Madigan was named as “Public Official A” in a July 2020 indictment against energy provider Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) that alleged the company worked to influence Madigan and win his favor on energy legislation.
Four people close to Madigan were indicted on public corruption charges in a subsequent November 2020 indictment: McClain was charged along with former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd executive John Hooker and consultant Jay Doherty.
The November 2020 indictment alleged the group worked to secure “do-nothing jobs” for people close to Madigan “for the benefit of [Madigan] and his associates, intending that [Madigan]...be influenced and rewarded in connection with any business, transaction, and series of transactions of the State of Illinois involving things of value of $5,000 or more, namely, legislation affecting ComEd and its business.”
With support from the powerful speaker, ComEd was able to move legislation that benefited them and ultimately resulted in higher rates for customers.
The indictment handed down on Wednesday renews the allegations against McClain and ComEd executives, saying Madigan worked to "pass legislation that was favorable to ComEd," including the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act. In return, "for the purpose of influencing and rewarding Madigan," McClain and other associates "arranged for various associates of Madigan, including Madigan's political allies...to obtain jobs, contracts, and monetary payments," including in "instances where such associates performed little or no work that they were purportedly hired to perform for ComEd."
The indictment further alleges that Madigan "created and caused the creation of false contracts, invoices, and other books and records to disguise the true nature of certain of the payments and to circumvent internal controls."
Long known for his caution and aversion to technology, Madigan and his confidantes arranged for the payments and jobs "through third-party intermediaries," prosecutors allege.
Driving business to law firm
The indictment alleges that Madigan tried at one time to compel Pritzker to land disgraced former Chicago Ald. Danny Solis (25) a position on a state board following his retirement from the City Council. Prosecutors say Madigan "agreed to accept business steered by" Solis, who chaired the City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards, to Madigan's property tax firm, Madigan & Getzendanner. In return, Madigan allegedly agreed in his capacity as speaker to pressure Gov. JB Pritzker to appoint Solis to a state board that would pay nearly $94,000 per year.
Solis "assured Madigan that 'there’s a lot of good stuff happening in my ward' and that he would help Madigan obtain legal business for his private law firm," according to the indictment. Madigan allegedly responded, "Just leave it in my hands."
Lausch clarified on Wednesday that the indictment includes "no allegation...against the governor or his staff."
Lausch suggested on Wednesday that Madigan was caught on a wiretap, saying the indictment "includes conversations that are directly quoted." Solis avoided prosecution after agreeing to wear a wire to help prosecutors nab evidence on his colleague Ald. Ed Burke (14), who was similarly indicted in 2019 on racketeering charges.
A separate count in the indictment recounts Solis telling Madigan about a developer who needed zoning approval, saying, "I think they understand how this works, you know, the quid pro quo," to which Madigan allegedly responded, "OK, very good." Days later, Madigan "falsely suggested a pretext" for Solis' recommendation of Madigan's law firm, saying, “You’re just recommending...because if they don’t get a good result on their real estate taxes, the whole project will be in trouble...Which is not good for your ward. So you want high quality representation.”
The most serious of the 22 charges carry maximum legal prison sentences of 20 years each, prosecutors said.
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