Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is one of the most powerful state politicians in the country. He’s also one of the most corrupt of all politicians in the corrupt state of Illinois.
He’s the longest-serving state House speaker in the country and in his 22 years as speaker, has amassed power and influence far beyond that of any other politician in the state.
The Democratic governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, is assumed to be in Madigan’s pocket. An investigation revealed that 35 job seekers who just happened to be on a list that Madigan passed on to Pritzker all ended up with state jobs. Clearly, they have a close working relationship.
Now, Madigan is embroiled in a bribery scandal involving the state’s largest electricity producer, giving the speaker $1.2 million in benefits in exchange for the passage of favorable legislation. What passes for business as usual in Illinois is actually a federal crime and the company, Com-Ed, is paying $200 million in fines.
For Madigan, the corruption lasted from 2011 to 2019 and included some goodies.
According to the federal information filed Friday, ComEd “corruptly gave, offered, and agreed to give things of value, namely, jobs, vendor subcontracts, and monetary payments associated with those jobs and subcontracts” for the Speaker’s benefit and with “intent to influence” him and his associates.
The bribery predates the administration of Pritzker but when you consider what happened to Rod Blagojevich—the impeached former governor and convicted felon—when his associates were charged with corruption, the difference is night and day.
This difference has not gone unnoticed by the state’s quiescent Republican Party, which roused itself long enough to issue a statement blasting the media for their double standard in coverage between Blagojevich and Pritzker.
“More than a decade ago, when we learned that [former governor] Rod Blagojevich was ‘Public Official A,’ the Chicago press corps was relentless,” the letter said. “But for some reason, a decade later, Mike Madigan and J.B. Prtizker get a different standard.”
Blagojevich was convicted on federal corruption charges and President Donald Trump commuted his sentence earlier this year.
The Illinois GOP argues that the scandal inching closer to Madigan deserves similarly aggressive media coverage.
Of course it does. This is a huge story given Madigan’s overwhelming presence in Springfield and his long history of serving as speaker of the House.
It isn’t only that Madigan has been telling Pritzker whom to hire. Pritzker has often invested in Madigan’s campaign interests.
“He is a political ally of Mike Madigan who has invested millions of dollars in Madigan-controlled campaign funds,” the GOP said of Pritzker. “He is the highest-ranking Democrat in a party that Madigan chairs … The people of Illinois need a press corps that will hold their leaders accountable.”
The press would ordinarily examine those issues and put them under a microscope. Instead, all of the media focus has been on Madigan — as if he’s the only Democratic politician in the state. The connections between Madigan and other powerful Democratic politicians could also bear scrutiny, as the networks of corruption run wide and deep in the state.
Is Pritzker vulnerable? The governor has already been implicated in another “pay-for-play” scheme involving two powerful Democrats who helped move the governor’s transportation bill through the legislature. But we don’t know if his connections to Madigan resulted in any wrongdoing because the media in the state isn’t curious enough to uncover anything.