Michael Madigan, once the most powerful Dem in Illinois, indicted in corruption probe

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CHICAGO, IL- A powerful Illinois politician, former House Speaker Michael Madigan, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on racketeering and bribery charges, Fox 32 in Chicago reports. The indictment stems from allegations that Madigan used his official position to solicit and receive personal financial rewards for both himself as well as associates.

The 79-year-old Chicago native is charged with racketeering conspiracy and individual counts of using interstate facilities in aid of bribery, wire fraud and attempted extortion.

The 22-count indictment charges Madigan of leading a criminal enterprise for nearly 10 years in order to enhance is political power as well as his wallet. It is also alleged he generated income for his political allies and associates.

WGN reported that Madigan, for decades one of the most powerful legislators in Illinois became the latest and most prominent Illinois politician swept up in a federal probe of government corruption in the state.

Madigan resigned from the legislature a year ago as the probe began to take shape. He was the longest swerving state House speaker in modern U.S. history, WGN radio reported and earned the nickname the “Velvet Hammer” for his insistence on strict party discipline.

A number of top state politicians have been caught up in various investigations throughout his tenure, however it was never believed Madigan would be swept up in any investigations.

In 2020, he was caught up in a long-running bribery scheme involving the state’s largest electric utility, ComEd. While court filings lodged at the time didn’t name him specifically, it soon became clear he was the person referred to in court documents as “Public Official A.”

The charges allege that Madigan used not only his position as speaker, but a number of power positions to further the criminal enterprise, including as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party and as a partner in a Chicago law firm.

WGN said ComEd admitted in court filings that it secured jobs and contracts for associates of Public Official A from 2011 to 2019 for favorable treatment concerning regulatory rules which impacted the utility.

In August 2020, ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million settlement in order to defer prosecution, although that agreement didn’t preclude the lodging of criminal charges against any individual.

The federal complaint against Madigan came after over six Democrats—including Madigan’s longtime chief of staff and other confidants—were charged with crimes or had their offices and homes raided by federal agents.

Madigan blew off allegations last year, with a spokeswoman denying the ComEd allegations while saying he would cooperate the investigation “which he believes will clearly demonstrate that he has done nothing criminal or improper.”

However the allegations scared of members of Madigan’s House Democratic caucus, and despite his best efforts to win a 19th term as speaker last  January, he was unable to gain sufficient support in order to maintain his role.

After being relegated to a powerless seat in the 118 member House, he resigned both his seat in the legislature and his chairmanship of the Democratic Party of Illinois in February 2021.

Madigan was a throwback to the old Richard Daley days of Chicago machine politics, where patronage and party connections determined who got hired and which projects were built.

To say Madigan possessed tremendous power in Illinois is an understatement. He maintained strict control of the Democrat caucus and was said to have “meticulous knowledge” of the legislative process, having power to determine which bills received hearings and which ones died on the vine.

His supporters earned choice legislative assignments and campaign cash. He also controlled the gerrymandering of district boundaries after a census.

In May, Madigan’s former chief of staff, Timothy Mapes was indicted for lying under oath to a federal grand jury investigating ComEd. Mapes was granted immunity to testify under terms of the indictment, which also said his words or evidence would not be used against him in a criminal case, unless he committed perjury.

Four other people, including another associate of Madigan’s were indicted in November in connection with the bribery scheme and ComEd.

In addition to jobs and contracts, WGN said, the defendants were accused of conspiring to have ComEd hire a law firm favored by Madigan, and to accept into ComEd’s internship program students who resided in Madigan’s 13th Ward, even though some didn’t meet its requirements, the indictment said.

Madigan’s power base was a middle-class district located near Midway International Airport on Chicago’s southwest side, where he could count on loyalists, many who were on the government payroll would go out and canvass neighborhoods and register voters.

His eight-figure campaign fund meant he could pick and choose Democratic candidates across the state to run for office and finance their races. In 2014, the Chicago Tribune found over 400 current and retired state and local government workers tied to Madigan. For example, his daughter Lisa served as Illinois attorney general for 16 years, between 2003 and 2019.

Madigan has been surrounded by scandal for years, so it was only a matter of time before he got caught. In 2019, FBI agents raided the Springfield Illinois office of a Madigan confidante, then-state Sen. Martin Sandoval.

Sandoval pleaded guilty to taking thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from a red-light camera company in exchange for blocking legislation that would hurt it.

Sandoval had agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their ongoing corruption probe as part of his plea agreement, however died in December from COVID-19 complications.

WGN said Madigan usually evades the media and rarely speaks in public. However in 2019, a reporter asked him if he was a target of an investigation, to which he replied, “No, I’m not a target of anything.”

As the walls closed in on the investigation of him, Madigan drafted a letter to House colleagues, denying wrongdoing or personal knowledge of anything resembling a bribery scheme. He said he never expected someone to be hired for a job in exchange for an action he took.

“Helping people find jobs,” he said, “is not a crime.”

Michael Madigan, once the most powerful Dem in Illinois, indicted in corruption probe

Chicago has of course long been one of the most corrupt cities in he nation. For a prior report on this, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

CHICAGO, IL – Chicago is the most corrupt city in the United States, according to a report compiled from Justice Department data. The report by the University of Illinois also found that Illinois is the third-most corrupt state.

The report examined Justice Department data on public corruption between the dates of 1976 and 2019.

During that time period, Chicago had nearly 1800 convictions for public corruption, more than second-place Los Angeles and third-ranked New York City.

The report titled “Anti-Corruption Report #13” was published on February 22.

The report was published by the University of Illinois at the Chicago Department of Political Science and authored by Dick Simpson, Marco Rosaire Rossi, and Thomas J. Gradel.

The report said that 2019 was a pivotal year for Chicago’s history of corruption:

“The statistics do not completely reflect it, but 2019 was a highly explosive year, during which some of the most important political corruption in the history of Chicago and Illinois was exposed.

“Bombshell corruption news reports that year dethroned the city’s most powerful alderman, upset Chicago’s mayoral election campaign, torpedoed the most powerful and well-known candidate, and threatened the political existence of Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and Chairman of the State Democratic Party, Michael Madigan.”

The report shows that since 1976, Chicago has a total of 1,770 convictions with an average of 41 per year. Los Angeles, by comparison, had 1,770 and New York City had 1,361. The report went on to show that Miami had 1,567 and Washington D.C. had 1,199.

Illinois as a whole was found to be third on the list of the most corrupt states, according to the annual university report:

“In 2019, there were 26 public corruption convictions in the Northern District of Illinois, which includes all of Chicago and the northern third of Illinois — double the number recorded in 2018, according to the report.

The rest of the state had six additional public corruption convictions in 2019 for a state total of 32, according to Simpson’s findings based on the most recent DOJ data available.

“In May 2019, Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) was indicted on 14 counts of racketeering, bribery, and extortion based on evidence that he repeatedly — and brazenly — used his powerful position at City Hall to force those doing business with the city to hire his private law firm. Burke has pleaded not guilty.”

Burke’s trial has been delayed by the pandemic.

In addition to the public corruption ranking, Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot has struggled with a surge in crime in the Windy City.

As of 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Chicago had eight people shot over the weekend starting Friday night. One person died.

A 16-year-old boy was killed in a shooting Friday night in the 6300 block of South Richmond Street. The boy was visiting friends at 8:45 p.m. when two males started arguing with him in an apartment.

He fled into the street as the two males began hitting him.

The males chased him and fired shots which struck the child several times. He later died at Christ Medical Center.

Last weekend, 18 people were shot and two died in Chicago.  In 2020, 4,100 people were shot in the city.

The university’s report uses a formula comparing each region’s corruption convictions with its population to develop the rankings. The report acknowledged that the data was limited:

“(The report) does not come close to capturing the significance of that year’s corruption events. They miss both the large number and the importance of the public officials caught up in the year’s political scandal.”

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Report: 288 people have been shot in Chicago, 58 have died since Illinois sent the National Guard to D.C.

February 6, 2021

CHICAGO, IL – While people are being killed in the streets of Chicago at a staggering rate, over 500 Illinois National Guard members are being deployed to Washington DC through March.

Since Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the deployment, 288 people have been shot in Chicago and 58 of those have died.

Governor Pritzker deployed 500 National Guard members and airmen to Washington at the request of the Pentagon on January 28. At the time, the governor said it was necessary to fight “racism” and “disinformation.”

In his comments, he did not explain how the National Guard would fight disinformation:

“We must root out the dark forces of racism, white supremacy, and disinformation that have created this moment, but until we do that, our extraordinary Illinois National Guard troops will deploy with honor. Thank you for defending our democracy.”

Daniel Greenfield, a Fellow at the Freedom Center, commented about the Governor’s words in an article written for Frontpage:

“Soldiers don’t root out ‘disinformation.’ Except maybe in China, Cuba, and apparently, Chicago.”

As of this writing, 288 people have been shot since the Governor ordered the deployment. 81% of the shooting victims were black. 44 shooting victims were black, 7 Hispanic, and 2 were white or other race, according to Chicago violence tracking website heyjackass.com.

In Chicago, a person is wounded in a shooting about every three hours, and a person is murdered around every 14 and a half hours. Since the start of February, Chicago has seen 34 people shot and wounded and another 4 killed.

Greenfield argued that Governor Pritzker could have used National Guard troops to quell the violence at home:

“After the billionaire governor took a break from working on his Wisconsin mansion to dispatch 200 National Guard troops to protect Joe Biden from being attacked during the inauguration, 29 murders were perpetrated in Chicago.

“There was nothing for the Illinois National Guard to do in D.C. where the biggest threat to Joe Biden’s safety remains pulling a dog’s tail in the shower but deploying those troops could have been used to save lives back home in Chicago.”

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