In 2020, the Chicago Democrat was embroiled in a long-running corruption scheme involving the state’s largest electric utility, ComEd. Documents filed in court at the time did not name Madigan directly, but clearly indicated that he was the person in the documents referred to as “Public Official A”.
ComEd admitted in court filings that it secured jobs and contracts for associates of Public Official A from 2011 to 2019 for favorable treatment in regulatory rules affecting the public service. ComEd agreed in August 2020 to pay $200 million as part of a settlement to defer prosecution, although this agreement does not prevent criminal charges against anyone.
The federal complaint came after more than half a dozen Democrats — including Madigan’s longtime chief of staff and other confidants — were charged with crimes or had their offices and homes raided by federal officers.
As a speaker, the ever-confident Madigan tended to ignore the political scandal of the time. A spokeswoman for Madigan last year denied the ComEd-related allegations and said Madigan would cooperate with the investigation “which he says will clearly demonstrate that he did nothing criminal or improper.” .
That wasn’t enough for the members of his House Democratic caucus, many of whom weren’t born when Madigan was first inaugurated in 1971. Despite his determination to win a 19th term as president in January , support waned and he was unable to garner the 60 votes needed to retain the gavel. Relegated to the rank and file of the 118-member House, he resigned his seat effective February 28, 2021. He resigned as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party on February 22.
Madigan, the son of a Chicago precinct captain, became Speaker of the House in 1983. He was a throwback to the machine style of politics that Illinois was once famous for, especially during the reign of 22 years as Richard Daley’s mayor of Chicago, when patronage and partying connections controlled who was hired and what projects were built.
Madigan wielded power through tight control of his caucus and meticulous knowledge of legislation, determining which bills were heard and which died quietly. His loyalists received choice legislative assignments and campaign money. He controlled the drawing of district boundaries after a census.
Madigan’s former chief of staff, Timothy Mapes, was indicted in May for lying under oath to a federal grand jury investigating ComEd. The indictment says Mapes was granted immunity to testify and that his words or evidence cannot be used against him in a criminal case unless he has committed perjury.
Four people, including a Madigan associate, were indicted in November for orchestrating a bribery scheme with ComEd.
Among them was Michael McClain, who served with Madigan in the House in the 1970s and early 1980s before becoming a lobbyist. One of his clients was ComEd.
Other defendants included former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggirore; lobbyist and former ComEd executive John Hooker; and Jay Doherty, consultant and former director of the nonprofit City Club of Chicago.
All have pleaded not guilty.
In addition to jobs and contracts, the defendants were accused of conspiring to get ComEd to hire a law firm favored by Madigan and of accepting students who resided in Madigan’s 13th Ward into ComEd’s internship program. , although some did not meet his requirements, according to the indictment.
Former ComEd executive Fidel Marquez pleaded guilty to bribery in September, agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
Madigan held the gavel in the House for nearly two years from 1983 to 2021, leading the political agenda regardless of which party controls the governor’s office or other legislative body. He served the terms of seven governors. One, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, complained that Madigan, not him, was in charge of the state.
His power base was a middle-class neighborhood near Midway International Airport in southwest Chicago, where his loyalists, many of whom were government employees, reliably traveled to solicit neighborhoods and enroll the electors. With an eight-figure campaign fund, he could choose Democratic candidates from all over Illinois to run for office and fund their races. The Chicago Tribune in 2014 found over 400 current and retired state and local government employees with campaign ties to Madigan. Madigan’s daughter Lisa served as Illinois attorney general from 2003 to 2019.
Pay-to-play allegations were raised against Madigan, but he denied them and none resulted in criminal charges. In 2013, the head of Chicago’s Metra Rail transit system claimed after he was kicked out that Madigan pressured him to give jobs and raises to political frontrunners.
In September 2019, FBI agents raided the state capitol office of a Madigan ally, then-state senator Martin Sandoval. Sandoval’s Senate district encompassed Madigan’s, and a federal subpoena sought to establish communications between Madigan and Sandoval.
The former chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee pleaded guilty earlier in 2020 to taking thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from a red-light camera company in exchange for blocking legislation that would detrimental. Sandoval had agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their ongoing corruption investigation as part of his plea deal, but died in December of complications from COVID-19.
Mistakenly unsealed court documents in a separate case have revealed the FBI placed a recording device on a businessman to covertly record a conversation with Madigan in 2014.
Prosecutors have brought charges against another veteran Chicago Democrat, City Councilman Ed Burke, accusing him of taking official action for private gain. He pleaded not guilty.
In October 2019, former Democratic state Rep. Luis Arroyo, a Madigan lieutenant, was accused of bribing a fellow legislator with an offer of $2,500 a month in exchange for the state senator’s support. to the legislation relating to lotteries. He pleaded guilty and resigned.
Madigan has a reputation for despising the media and rarely speaking in public. But when reporters asked in 2019 if he was a target of investigation, Madigan was adamant.
“No, I’m not the target of anything,” he said.
As Madigan’s scrutiny intensified, he also penned a letter to House colleagues denying any wrongdoing or personal knowledge of any corruption schemes. He said he never expected anyone to be hired for a job in exchange for an action they took. “Helping people find jobs,” he said, “is not a crime.”
O’Connor reported from Springfield, Illinois.