AT&T Illinois fined $23 million for buying Madigan influence

AT&T Illinois fined $23 million for buying Madigan influence

AT&T Illinois will pay a $23 million fine for illegally influencing former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Their former president, Paul La Schiazza, faces conspiracy charges.

AT&T Illinois will pay a $23 million fine for illegal payments to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan as part of a federal corruption investigation.

The charges bring a new indictment against Madigan for directly voting on legislation under the influence of AT&T Illinois’ then-President Paul La Schiazza.

The legislation was a controversial bill allowing an AT&T subsidiary to end landline service for more than 1 million customers, which Madigan helped pass in the 2017 legislative session.

AT&T admitted to wrongdoing as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, and La Schiazza has been charged with conspiracy and orchestrating illegal bribes.

Under a similar agreement, Commonwealth Edison paid a $200 million fine for buying Madigan influence on favorable legislation.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the news “further condemns a system rife with promises of pay-to-play, and I have worked and will continue to work to end the era of corruption and self-dealing among Illinois politicians.

His opponent, state Sen. Darren Bailey, used the announcement to try to tie Pritzker to Madigan and to call for “real ethics reform with teeth.” Federal prosecutors drew criticism for announcing the charges just weeks before the Nov. 8 election, giving challengers a chance to use Madigan against incumbent Democrats.

Pritzker recently called on two state Senators to resign, but neither have done so. State Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, allegedly accepted $5,000 in bribes and state Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfurt, has been accused of domestic abuse by his estranged wife.

Both Jones and Hastings are up for re-election on Nov. 8. Madigan has been out of office for nearly two years, but rampant corruption is still in place.

Corruption costs Illinoisans roughly $550 million a year in lost economic growth and investment. Only structural reform can prevent the next Michael Madigan. One possible solution is an independent commission to prevent politicians from picking their voters, a Pritzker campaign promise he never fulfilled.

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