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Indictment Tsunami: 30-Year Speaker Could Go Down as Most Corrupt Dem in Illinois History

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The longtime former speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives was indicted on federal corruption charges on Wednesday.

Mike Madigan, a Democrat who served as speaker of the Illinois House for more than 30, years, split between two tenures from the early ’80s to his retirement last year, was the subject of a lengthy criminal complaint in the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois.

In more than 100 pages, the document outlined 22 charges against him.

Former Illinois House Speak… by WGN Web Desk

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The charges follow a federal investigation into Madigan that has spanned years, according to WFLD-TV.

The indictment accuses Madigan of soliciting business for his own law firm during negotiations to turn a parcel of state-owned land in Chicago’s Chinatown into a commercial development.

Another charge accuses Madigan of organizing a bribery scheme involving electric utility Commonwealth Edison.

One former Commonwealth Edison executive has already pleaded guilty to a plot for the company to pay off lobbyists connected to Madigan in order to secure the passage of legislation favorable to its financial interests, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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Madigan had finally been forced out of office amid the beginning of an investigation into Commonwealth Edison in 2021.

Madigan also faces one count of extortion.

Prosecutors accuse the powerful Democrat of using coded language to shield the criminal nature of corrupt plots from law enforcement, and attempting to “reduce law enforcement’s ability to intercept their communications.”

A longtime Madigan associate, state legislator and lobbyist, Michael McClain, was also indicted in Wednesday’s court filing.

The Chicago Democrat served in the Illinois House for more than 40 years, racking up time in office in a manner that’d make the most hardened career politicians jealous.

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Madigan achieved tremendous power over Illinois’ government during his seemingly endless reign, leading critics of his Democrat ‘machine’ brand of politics to term the state itself “Madiganistan.”

It’s thought that Madigan’s influence over the state government surpassed even that of many Illinois governors, many of whom were flustered in attempts to control legislative processes by the state’s true master.

Illinois has a long history of government corruption. In 2020, when then-President Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a WLS-TV report noted that four of the state’s governors or former governors — all but one of them Democrats — had been sent to prison since  1960.

Even by those standards, Madigan’s indictment could make him the most corrupt Democrat in the state’s history.

In a Twitter post, Chicago Tribune reporter Jason Meisner put the case in perspective.

“By indicting Mike Madigan, a famously shrewd tactician who rarely used email or cell phones, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached the apex of the state’s political food chain, even in the pantheon of political figures who’ve gone down before him,” he wrote.

Madigan, 79,  is the longest-serving speaker of a state house in modern American history, CNN reported.

He’s repeatedly maintained his innocence amid the sprawling corruption investigation. His arraignment is scheduled for March 9, according to CNN.

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