Former Illinois Democrat speaker Michael Madigan has been indicted
On Wednesday, the federal government filed a RICO claim against Michael Madigan, the former Illinois House speaker. The 106-page indictment accuses Madigan of engaging in bribery, extortion, and racketeering, all with an eye to maintaining Madigan's power and rewarding his political allies, workers, and associates, and to generate income for everyone involved in these criminal activities. Considering how powerful Madigan was, I'd like to say this strikes a devastating blow against corruption in Illinois politics, but no one would believe me if I said that.
Michael Madigan came up in Chicago's political ranks as a protégé of Mayor Richard J. Daley and a friend of Daley's son, Richard M. Daley. In 1969, by the time he was 27, Madigan was a ward precinct committeeman, at which time (according to Wikipedia) he controlled the "most disciplined" ward organization in Chicago.
In 1970, Madigan was first elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, representing Chicago's 22nd District (the southwest side). He entered the Illinois General Assembly in 1971 and never left it. Madigan rose to the speakership in 1983, a position he occupied until 2021, except for the years 1995–1997, when Republicans briefly controlled the House. (Lee Daniels, a Republican, was the House speaker then. It's worth noting that Daniels has never been indicted.)
Image: Michael Madigan. YouTube screen grab.
Madigan, obviously, had a great deal of power in Illinois. You don't last as speaker for almost 30 years without being the dominant voice in state Democrat politics. He was an especially good friend to the labor unions, which donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to him over the years. Of the $670,559 he received in just the ten years between 2002 and 2012, here's where some of it came from:
- $56,114 from AFL-CIO
- $50,000 from AFSCME
- $63,600 from Illinois Education Association
- $161,000 from the Illinois Federation of Teachers
- $135,000 from the Chicago Teachers Union
- $204,845 from the Service Employees International Union
Obviously, Madigan was all about power, which means he was all about patronage, which means he could easily be all about corruption — and that's what the indictment against him alleges:
MADIGAN was the leader of the enterprise, and used these positions to oversee, direct, and guide certain of the enterprise's illegal activities. Among other things, MADIGAN utilized his official positions as a Representative and Speaker: (i) to cause various businesses to employ, contract with, and make direct and indirect monetary payments to MADIGAN's political allies, political workers, and associates as a reward for and to promote their loyalty, association with, and work for MADIGAN, at times in 9 return for little or no legitimate work performed for the benefit of the businesses; and (ii) to solicit and receive from persons and parties having business with the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago, or otherwise subject to the authority and powers vested in MADIGAN and other public officials acting on MADIGAN's behalf, including Alderman A, bribes and unlawful personal financial advantage, including but not limited to fees arising from the retention of his law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner. MADIGAN utilized his positions as Democratic Committeeman for the Thirteenth Ward and Chairman of the Thirteenth Ward Democratic Organization to direct the activities of his political allies and political workers within the Thirteenth Ward, and to maintain his political power for purposes of ensuring his continued retention of his positions as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives and Speaker. MADIGAN utilized his position as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois to influence and garner loyalty from legislators by providing or withholding staff and funding to legislators and their campaigns. MADIGAN utilized his position as a partner in Madigan & Getzendanner to reap the benefits of private legal work unlawfully steered to his law firm. MADIGAN directed the activities of his close friend and associate, McCLAIN, who carried out illegal activity at MADIGAN's direction.
You caught that phrase "among other things," right? There were lots of other things, including meeting with J.B. Pritzker, right after the latter was elected governor, to get a corrupt Chicago alderman a lucrative position on a state board. (Pritzker is not named in the indictment.)
This video provides more information about the complaint, along with making the point that Madigan denies the charges against him:
Frankly, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone. Chicago and Illinois politics are both famously corrupt. What would have been surprising would have been learning that Madigan was clean as a whistle. Of course, it remains now for the federal government to make its case in court. If I were Madigan, and if I were guilty of even some of the things the government alleges, I might contemplate a plea bargain for a stay in a nice Club Fed. After all, that's where all the best Illinois and Chicago politicians hope to go once the law catches up with them.
For more information about Madigan's career, here's a detailed video (hat tip: Gateway Pundit).
Hat tip: Peter von Buol.