COMED SCANDAL: What charges could Michael Madigan face?

CHICAGO — Federal prosecutors delivered a response to a question this weekend regarding the ComEd scandal. The question: is Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan implicated as part of the ComEd criminal investigation? The Associated Press reports that Madigan, the longest-serving statehouse speaker in the nation, is. Madigan is a subject in ComEd’s criminal investigation regarding influence-peddling and lobbying activities to benefit a utility company. Whether Madigan, 78, will face charges, when charges will be issued and for what crimes are currently unknown.

How we know Madigan is a target

Clues over the past year raise the possibility that Madigan was an investigative target by the Federal government. This includes charges against Madigan political allies. A clearly-revealing filing from the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago erased any imaginable doubts on Friday. A prosecution deferment agreement reveals that ComEd would resolve a bribery scheme running for almost a decade for $200 million. This comes as the result of an investigation of the electric utility. The investigation reveals the utility was securing jobs and contracts for associates of a top-level official in exchange for favorable legislation. While the document does not specify Madigan in particular, it might as well have. Moreover, it refers to a “Public Official A” as the individual ComEd was seeking to “influence and reward.” Additionally, the filing continues to specify “the Speaker of the House of Representatives.” That seems to be quite obvious, given Madigan has been House speaker since 1983. However, there is an exception: for two years in the 1990s, he did not serve when Republicans were in control of the House.

How imminent will charges be filed for Madigan?

“It means prosecutors are coming for him,” states defense attorney Phil Turner. Turner is a former prosecutor who has worked in the Chicago U.S. attorney’s office. Turner adds, “They have laid siege to the castle and it’s only a question of time when they assault.” If implicated, this wouldn’t be the first time things have ended badly in the Land of Lincoln for anyone considered as “Public Official A”. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was a target back in 2008 for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Blagojevich would face obstruction of justice, attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit bribery and other counts. The former governor would serve half of his 14-year prison sentence until it was commuted by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

What other cases could shed light on possible charges for Madigan?

Illinois has been synonymous with pay-to-play corruption; there has been no shortage of cases indicating what charges Madigan could potentially face. Martin Sandoval, a former state senator, pleaded guilty earlier this year for bribery and tax evasion charges. Sandoval did receive $250,000 from a red-light camera company in exchange for blocking legislation. That legislative bill proposal was one that would negatively impact their business. Bribery carries a 10-year prison term, while the tax evasion county carries up to three years. It’s not currently known if both will be served concurrently or consecutively.
Tax charges, especially tax evasion, are common in bribery cases. This is because bribes under the table have not been income declarations. However, bribery does not have to involve monetary transactions. For instance, it could involve providing jobs to political associates.
Federal prosecutors often slap on wire fraud charges if a phone is in use while carrying out a crime. If a suspect uses a phone for illegal purposes, wire fraud can be under consideration for a charge. It carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Unknown charge timeline for Madigan

Prosecutors are taking an unusual step of implicating Madigan as a chief suspect. This is before any indictments suggest that charges could come at any point, according to Turner. Madigan likely knows this, as he is a litigator himself. Despite wide media coverage that prosecutors were investigating Blagojevich, it came as a surprise. Blagojevich considered it as such when agents showed up at dawn at his home and took him away in handcuffs “The lesson that Madigan has to learn from Blagojevich is that he has to be prepared to be arrested,” said Turner.

Is Madigan facing pressure to resign?

It’s currently unclear whether Madigan, who is also the chief of the state Democratic Party, will answer calls to step down if charged. Bending to pressure is not characteristic of Madigan. However, cracks are starting to show among his once rock-solid support among the party’s establishment. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot stopped short of calling on Madigan to resign on Monday. “If those allegations are true, obviously he should resign,” Lightfoot states as a result. “We don’t know that they are true yet.” Additionally, similar sentiments came from Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker as a result.

Madigan denies such wrongdoing regarding ComEd

In typical Madigan fashion, the Speaker rarely speaks publicly. A party spokeswoman, Maura Possley, spoke on Madigan’s behalf following the ComEd filing on Friday. Possley states in a statement that Madigan “has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and has engaged in no wrongdoing here.”

Democrats could be open and vulnerable in November

Under unusual circumstances, this revelation is leaving Democrats who would normally run uncontested open and exposed. Half of 24 independent and new party candidates made their filings from July 13-20. If those petitions do not face a challenge, it could present a nightmare scenario for Democrats in November. The filings come as a result of the rarest ballot access relief in state history.

Candidate threats to Democratic-held seats


Seven candidates from throughout the Chicagoland region are running their respective House seats in November. Christopher Kruger of Evanston is a Green Party candidate running head-to-head against Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz in House District 17. Two independents, Sean Matlis and Paris Walker Thomas, are running in House Districts 18 and 28. The Evanston and Chicago natives will be facing off against Robyn Gabel and Bob Rita respectively. Both are head-to-head races. Four Libertarians are seeking to be elected in November. Glenn Olofson of Des Plaines is running in House District 55 against Martin Moylan. Joshua Flynn, a native of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, is running in House District 78 against Camille Lilly. Clayton Cleveland of Mokena is running against Anthony DeLuca in House District 80. All three are head-to-head races as a result. Joseph Schreiner of Chicago will be in a three-way contest in House District 19. That seat is currently held by Lindsey LaPointe.

Central Illinois

Two Libertarians and a Green candidate are running for office in Central Illinois. Chad Grimm of Peoria and Brad Bielert of Champaign are running races in Districts 92 and 103. Those races will be head-to-head with Jehan Gordon-Booth and Carol Ammons respectively. John Keating of Springfield will face a three-way contest in District 96, facing off against Sue Scherer. Republicans nominated Charles McGorray as a nomination in vacancy last month.


In the Metro-East region, the Constitution and Libertarians hope to have a stronghold in House District 113, currently held by Jay Hoffman. Ryan Musick of Belleville is running under the Constitution line, while Mark Elmore of Swansea is running on the Libertarian line. The filing objection period ends at 5 p.m. Monday, which will give a better idea as to what the 2020 general election will look like.
This article references many stories from the Associated Press regarding this developing story.
For more Illinois political news, follow Jake Leonard @JakeLeonardWPMD, Ben Cox @Cox4Liberty and Heartland Newsfeed @HLNF_Bulletin on Twitter. Additionally, you can follow Heartland Newsfeed on Facebook and Reddit among other platforms.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.

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