Michael Madigan, former speaker of the Illinois House and for decades one of the nation’s most powerful legislators, was charged in a nearly $3 million racketeering and bribery scheme Wednesday, becoming the most prominent politician swept up in a federal investigation of entrenched government corruption in the state. Madigan, 79, is charged in the 22-count indictment with racketeering conspiracy, using interstate facilities in aid of bribery, wire fraud, and attempted extortion, the AP reports.
Madigan, who resigned from the Legislature a year ago, was the longest-serving state House speaker in modern US history. A procession of senior Illinois politicians, including three governors, was charged during his tenure, but politicians long believed the savvy Madigan would never be among them. The 106-page indictment alleges Madigan used not just his role as speaker, but various positions of power to further his criminal enterprise, including his chairmanship of the Illinois Democratic Party. It also accuses Madigan of reaping the benefits of private legal work illegally steered to his law firm, including from firms with matters before the state or the City of Chicago.
The indictment says the scheme's purpose was “to preserve and to enhance Madigan’s political power and financial well-being” and to “reward Madigan’s political allies,” including by using his stranglehold over the legislative process. The filing includes alleged communications in which Madigan appeared to agree to pay-to-play proposals. The indictment puts the value of the alleged schemes, in bribes and illegal transactions, at at least $2.8 million. Madigan's law firm said Wednesday there was no comment from him or the office. Arraignment has not been scheduled.
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