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Pritzker: Illinois speaker “must step down” if corruption charges are true

Federal prosecutors said the electricity company ComEd has agreed to pay $ 200 million to solve a federal criminal investigation into a long-term bribery scheme involving Madigan. They say the company has admitted that from 2011 to 2019, it has created jobs and supplier subcontractors “for several employees of a high-ranking official for the state of Illinois.”

The US Attorney’s Office has designated the senior high-level official in a press release as “Public Official A”. A delayed prosecution for ComEd, filed with federal court, states that “Public Official A” is the speaker of the Illinois House, but Madigan – a Chicago Democrat who is the longest-serving State House speaker in modern American history – not mentioned by name.

“The speaker should be very accountable to the authorities, investigators, and especially the people of Illinois,” Pritzker said during a stop in a Chicago suburb. “If these allegations of misconduct of the speaker are true, there is no doubt that he has violated public confidence and must resign.”

American lawyer John Lausch said at a news conference that the agreement with ComEd “speaks for itself.”

“It also speaks volumes about the nature of the very persistent public corruption problem we have here in Illinois,” he said.

Lausch did not comment on the identity of Officer A, saying that his office will not identify people if they have not been charged. But he said the investigation is and will continue to be “lively,” and he asked people with information to contact the FBI.

Former federal prosecutor Phil Turner, now a Chicago lawyer, said it is likely that the government has chased Madigan for years and found “something really solid” to reach him with ComEd allegations.

“To put it bluntly, they’re coming for him,” Turner said. “They will have some very credible people. With bribes, there is a money trail, good documentation and witness statements confirmed by documents, the case can get extremely strong. “

In the press release, prosecutors said Officer A checked what measures were required for voting in the Illinois House of Representatives and had significant influence over lawmakers regarding legislation affecting ComEd. During the scheme, the Illinois legislature considered legislation that affected the company’s profitability, including regulatory processes used to determine the rates of the largest state-charged electricity companies, they said.

The alleged bribery scheme was orchestrated “to influence and reward the official’s efforts to assist ComEd with regard to legislation related to ComEd and its activities,” prosecutors said. operation, which performed little or no work, appointed a person on the Company’s board at the request of Madigan and gave internships to students from his Chicago department.

In October, WBEZ reported that Anne Pramaggiore, CEO of ComEd parent company Exelon, had quit her job abruptly the company’s ties to a federal investigation seemed to deepen. The Chicago Tribune reported in December that Madigan was the subject of corruption probe investigations that had already baffled several prominent Illinois Democrats.

Lake than half a dozen Illinois Democrats – including some former Madigan confidants and allies – have been charged with crimes or have raided their offices and homes.

Madigan, 78, who stood up under the political machine of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley and regarded him as a mentor, was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1970. He took over as a speaker in 1983 and has outlived the gavel two years later, building a reputation for smart strategies, patience and his political rivals. In 2017, he beat the 32 ½ year record of a mid-century Democrat in South Carolina to become the longest-serving speaker of the U.S. state house in American history.

Madigan also manages four campaign funds and millions of contributions, allowing him to exercise significant power at both the ballot box and the State Capitol. But Possley said he did nothing inappropriate.

“The speaker never helped anyone find a job with the expectation that the person would not ask him to do work through his employer, nor would he have expected to provide anything to a potential employer if he chose to hire the person he recommended, “she said in the statement.” He has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and is not guilty of it. Any assertion to the contrary is unfounded. “

The ComEd investigation, which charges the company with bribery, is the latest public corruption investigation in a state where four of the last eleven governors have been sent to prison and several state legislators and members of the Chicago City Council have been charged. or cooperated in investigations by law enforcement officers.

“Even for a state with a history of corruption, this is unprecedented,” said Tim Schneider, president of the Republican Party of Illinois.

Under the deferred prosecution agreement, which has yet to be approved by a judge, the government will postpone the prosecution of the charges for three years and then attempt to dismiss it if the utility company “meets certain conditions, including remaining cooperate in ongoing investigations of individuals or other entities related to the conduct described in the bribery suit. “

Lausch said that ComEd cooperated “substantially” in the investigation. Under the terms of the agreement, the company will continue to cooperate until all investigations and prosecutions are completed.

Exelon CEO Christopher Crane said the company “acted promptly to investigate” when it learned of inappropriate behavior and concluded “a small number of senior ComEd employees and outside contractors” who no longer work for the company directed the misconduct.

“We apologize for the past behavior that did not live up to our own values, and we will make sure that it cannot happen again,” he said.