SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — ComEd, the largest utility company in the state, struck a deal with federal prosecutors to pay a fine of $200 million in order to avoid criminal charges in an elaborate bribery scheme that involved secret payments to friends of powerful House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago), court records show.
The court documents say ComEd agreed to disguise payments to Madigan’s political allies as legitimate salaries or through indirect payments as vendor subcontracts in exchange for laws and regulations that would benefit the company’s bottom line.
The records show the corruption went on for eight years from 2011 to 2019. During that same stretch, the state legislature passed two significant laws that determined how much ComEd and its parent company Exelon could charge Illinois residents for electricity.
Madigan’s longtime friend and confidante Mike McClain, a former House Representative who started his career in Springfield with Madigan in the early 1970s, was also named in the documents as “Individual A.” Federal prosecutors say McClain advised a ComEd executive “don’t put anything in writing,” because “all it can do is hurt ya.”
Madigan and McClain “sought to obtain from ComEd jobs, vendor subcontracts, and monetary payments associated with those jobs and subcontracts for various associates,” according to the court documents.
As a part of the deferred prosecution agreement, ComEd acknowledged its role in the scheme, and has offered “substantial cooperation” with the ongoing investigation.
Last fall, Speaker Madigan said he was “not a target of anything” after former House Representative Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) was charged in a bribery case. At the time, ComEd and its lobbyists were already under federal scrutiny. This latest development shows Madigan is, in fact, a target in the federal corruption investigation.
The Speaker’s office has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Madigan is the longest tenured Speaker of any state legislature in American history.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.