Updated: Will Mike Madigan Be Toppled in the ComEd Bribery Investigation?

US Atty John Lausch - Associated Press
Can Lausch bring down Madigan?
Will this federal investigation be the one to finally bring down Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan?

Wait. Pause. This is a story about utility company ComEd agreeing to pay $200 million in fines for bribery, right? Yes. 

But the Madigan aspect is actually bigger (in my opinion) than whatever crimes were committed by ComEd employees. It has the potential of upending Illinois politics as we've known them for half a century. The end of the Madigan Age may be near.

From the Chicago Sun-Times report, June 17 (emphasis added):
Federal prosecutors implicated Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on Friday in a brazen, Chicago-style bribery scheme involving ComEd that allegedly went on for years and involved payments to Madigan associates exceeding $1.3 million. 
Though the stunning, lengthy details were revealed in documents that charged only ComEd — and not Madigan — with bribery, they said ComEd has agreed to “fully and truthfully cooperate” with federal prosecutors. The company has agreed to pay a $200 million fine and acknowledged that it sought Madigan’s help for legislation that could be worth more than $150 million to the utility company. 
Madigan is not identified by name in the documents, rather as “Public Official A.” But there is no doubt it is him, as the documents identify that person as Illinois’ house speaker. No one in the country has held that title as long as Madigan. 
Mike Madigan - The Devil Lives In Springfield
Mike Madigan
U.S. Attorney John Lausch’s office held a news conference early this afternoon with the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation division. The purpose of the presser is, as the Sun-Times's Jon Seidel put it, "to discuss what could be one of the most significant prosecutions in Illinois history."

I want to note, for accuracy, that the Sun-Times report was not presumptive. Quoted above, it said that "Madigan is not identified by name in the documents, rather as 'Public Official A'." U.S. Attorney Rausch was asked about Madigan in his press conference today, and his response was to not name Madigan (watch full presser on YouTube).

An excellent report by CBS2 Chicago says that "Madigan, 78, has not been charged with a crime, but sources confirmed to CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov that Madigan’s office was served with a subpoena on Friday for documents related to the bribery charge against ComEd."

During his press conference today, Rausch was asked why Madigan has not been named since his own office specifically refers to him as "the Speaker of the House of Representatives" of Illinois. His response was that individuals are not named in ongoing investigations and that no charges have been brought against Public Official A.

The charges against Commonwealth Edison include the following passage (emphasis added).
Public Official A was the Speaker of the House of Representatives and an elected member of that body. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, Public Official A was able to exercise control overwhat measures were called for a vote in the House of Representatives. Public Official A also exercised substantial influence and control over fellow lawmakers concerning legislation, including legislation affecting ComEd.
As the Sun-Times noted, "there is no doubt" that Public Official A is Mike Madigan.

Anybody who has lived in Illinois for more than six months has likely heard rumors about Mike Madigan's allegedly corrupt ways. He's the Teflon Man of Springfield, seemingly untouchable despite a steady stream of suspicion. Madigan has been in the Illinois House of Representatives for nearly half a century, since 1971. He is currently in his 25th two-year term and is running for re-election. His current term ends in January 2021. (See Madigan's bio at  Ballotpedia.)

WLS-TV has an amazing report here.

Today's Sun-Times again: 
The documents filed Friday are full of colorful, Chicago-style quotes. At one point, a Madigan associate warns, “I would say to you don’t put anything in writing . . . all it can do is hurt ya.” At another, that person says, “We had to hire these guys because (Madigan) came to us. It’s just that simple.” A consultant allegedly said payments were made “to keep (Madigan) happy, I think it’s worth it, because you’d hear otherwise.” 
The Madigan associate at one point allegedly explained that, for decades, Madigan had named people to become ComEd employees such as meter readers as part of an “old-fashioned patronage system.”
If you've followed Illinois politics for as long as I have, or for even a fraction of the time that I have, the bigger story here is the possible implication of Madigan in this mess. Predictably, Madigan is denying any wrongdoing in connection to the ComEd scandal.

The Democrat king-maker has had an iron grip on statewide politics that seems unshakable (as I've written about numerous times in the past.) But maybe, just maybe, a tough U.S. Attorney named John Lausch can do what so many in the past could not: topple Madigan.

Stay tuned. This will only get better.


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