AT&T gets subpoena in Madigan probe
Federal investigators are looking into Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s relationship with multiple corporations.
The federal investigation into Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s relationships goes well beyond the charges filed against Commonwealth Edison. Investigators earlier this year served AT&T with a subpoena in search of ties to Madigan, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Madigan’s office was served with a grand jury subpoena on July 17, asking for records about various individuals and companies Madigan had relationships with. This included information on hiring and lobbying at AT&T, Walgreens and Rush University Medical Center.
U.S. Attorney John Lausch said the investigation is “vibrant and it will continue.”
The Tribune reported AT&T and ComEd had many of the same former Madigan staffers and state representatives on their employment rosters. This included Madigan’s former political director Tom Cullen and legal counsel Heather Wier Vaught. Former state Reps. Kevin McCarthy and James Brosnahan also got lobbying jobs with each company. AT&T Illinois President Eileen Mitchell worked for Madigan and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
AT&T and employees of the company have donated significant amounts to Madigan’s campaigns too. About $236,000has been donated to three accounts under Madigan’s control since 2016, more than the company and its employees have given to any other lawmaker.
In 2018, lawmakers passed House Bill 1811 in favor of AT&T, which raised rates for 9-1-1 calls throughout Illinois. Some lawmakers threatened to cancel 9-1-1 in Illinois if the bill was not passed.
While investigators continue to delve into how hiring at AT&T and ComEd is influenced by Madigan, one former associate disputes this.
“It’s not traditional for people to ask Speaker Madigan for help,” Liz Brown-Reeves, a former Madigan staffer and current AT&T lobbyist, told the Tribune.
Walgreens is being scrutinized because one of its former lobbyists was Michael McClain, a former state representative and close Madigan ally. He had his home raided last year as investigators sought records about ComEd’s lobbying. McClain was a ComEd lobbyist for years.
What is becoming clear is that Madigan had significant sway with these companies in exchange for his legislative support. The charges against ComEd allege the speaker was able to name people to jobs, including some as meter readers, after the company directed $1.3 million in contracts and payments to his associates.
Madigan’s actions outline the desperate need for serious ethics and lobbying reform in Springfield. Illinois is one of just 11 states that do not stop lawmakers from becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving office. This revolving door allows former lawmakers to return to Springfield and lobby their former colleagues on legislation. Many other states enforce a mandatory two-year cooling-off period.
With corruption running rampant in the state House, lawmakers need to demand reforms to reduce the powers of the speaker of the House. Without serious reform that gets at the root of the problem, Illinoisans will continue to watch the state get dragged down by lawmakers who only care about their own interests.