CHICAGO – The longest-serving state House speaker in modern American history is a subject of inquiries in an ongoing federal corruption investigation that has already entangled several top Illinois Democrats, according to a newspaper report published Thursday.
Four people interviewed by investigators told the Chicago Tribune that FBI agents and prosecutors asked about Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s ties to ComEd lobbyists, contracts the utility had with Madigan associates and government jobs those close to Madigan have landed.
A message seeking comment from Madigan spokesman Steve Brown on Thursday was not returned.
Madigan, who is also the head of the Democratic Party in Illinois, has not been accused of wrongdoing. Just because investigators ask about a specific person doesn’t necessarily mean that person is suspected of wrongdoing.
Over the past year more than half a dozen Illinois Democrats — including some of them former Madigan confidants and allies — have been charged with crimes or had agents raid their offices and homes. That has turned up the heat on Madigan and prompted greater media scrutiny of him.
Madigan, 77, has a reputation for spurning the media, and he infrequently comments in public. But he did respond when asked by reporters in October about whether he might be an investigative target: “No, I’m not a target of anything.”
Also in October, Exelon revealed in a public filing that it and its utility, ComEd, received a second federal subpoena asking about lobbying in Illinois. The filing said the companies “have cooperated fully” with Chicago-based federal prosecutors.
Madigan has for decades been one of the most powerful state legislators in the nation.
Even as federal prosecutors have put an increasing number of Illinois Democrats in their sights, there’s no sign Madigan is losing his more than 35-year stranglehold of the Legislature. Democrats in the Illinois House have a 74-44 majority, and there’s a 40-19 majority in the Senate. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is also a Democrat.