Governor JB Pritzker has previously spoken to federal law enforcement as part of an investigation into former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who was charged with nearly $3 million in racketeering and corruption on Tuesday, the governor’s office confirmed.
According to a statement from his office, Pritzker was told he was “only a witness” in the investigation and agreed to speak about his experiences and knowledge of Madigan.
The Illinois governor spoke to federal investigators for about an hour at his home in late February on a voluntary basis, Pritzker’s office wrote.
“He answered all the questions they asked and we encourage you to ask federal authorities any additional details they are willing to provide,” the statement said. “Federal law enforcement has asked the governor to provide information regarding his interactions with former President Madigan. He was pleased to cooperate and provide information.”
Madigan, 79, is charged with 22 counts, according to the indictment obtained by NBC 5. He “accuses Madigan of running a criminal enterprise for nearly a decade whose purpose was to improve Madigan’s political power and financial well-being while generating revenue for his political allies and associates,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
Read the full indictment here
Former NBC 5 political editor Carol Marin called it “the most thorough federal investigation we’ve ever seen come out of the Dirksens.”
“Corruption by an elected official and his associates undermines public confidence in our government,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch said in a statement. “The indictment alleges a long-term, multi-faceted scheme to use public positions for unlawful private gain. Rooting out and prosecuting the kind of corruption alleged in the indictment will always be a top priority for this office.
Following the announcement of the charges on Tuesday evening, Madigan released the following statement:
I have never been involved in any criminal activity. The government is trying to criminalize a routine service: job referrals. It is not illegal, and these other accusations are also unfounded. Throughout my 50 years as a public servant, I have worked to meet the needs of my constituents, always keeping in mind the high standards required and the trust the public places in me. I categorically deny these accusations and proudly look back on my time as an elected official, serving the people of Illinois.
Madigan was implicated in the bribery scheme in July. ComEd admitted to securing jobs, often requiring little or no work, and contracts for its associates from 2011 to 2019 for favorable treatment in the regulations. ComEd agreed in August to pay $200 million.
Madigan had previously not been charged in the investigation and described himself as “the target of vicious attacks by people who sought to diminish my many achievements”.
Previously, two former ComEd executives and two consultants, including a longtime associate and confidant of Madigan, were indicted on multiple federal charges related to the alleged scheme to influence Madigan – at the time identified only as “Public Agent A”. — in exchange for legislation favorable to the utility giant, prosecutors say.
The charges against Madigan come nearly a year after he resigned from the state legislature after nearly three decades in office.
Madigan was the longest-serving state House speaker in modern U.S. history and was nicknamed the “velvet hammer” for his insistence on strict party discipline. A host of high-profile politicians, including three governors, were indicted during his tenure, but politicians have long believed the wise Madigan would never be among them.
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’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.”