ComEd bribery scandal restitution denied for second time

ComEd bribery scandal restitution denied for second time

The lawsuit filed on behalf of millions of ratepayers sought to recover the costs incurred during Commonwealth Edison’s attempts to sway former House Speaker Mike Madigan. It was dismissed for a second time.

A Cook County judge ruled Jan. 21 against a lawsuit seeking restitution for millions of Illinoisans and businesses harmed by the ComEd bribery scandal that implicated former House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Circuit Judge Cecilia Horan’s dismissal marks the second ruling against The Citizens Utility Board’s case to recover costs incurred by ComEd customers during the utility giant’s attempts at bribing the nation’s longest-serving speaker.

Since acknowledging the scheme to curry favor with Madigan by trading legal contracts to his law firm, offering little- or no-work jobs for political pals, reserving internships for preferred candidates and advancing a Madigan ally to the company’s board of directors, ComEd was forced to pay $200 million in restitution.

Madigan has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged in the criminal case. His close allies have been charged.

During the case hearing Jan. 21, prosecutors representing ComEd customers argued Madigan played a critical role in passing policy worth $150 million to the utility provider.

“Because Michael Madigan was bribed, he lifted his brick … on the legislation and allowed it to go for a vote,” attorney Stephan Blandin argued. “As a result of the admitted bribery that took place, Commonwealth Edison was unjustly enriched.”

The plaintiffs claim the $200 million payment to the state government did nothing to compensate individuals or businesses who bore the costs of taxpayer-funded subsidies and other preferential policies rewarded to ComEd through the relationship. Federal prosecutors said the exchange began back in 2011.

Chicago is ranked the most corrupt city in the nation, and Illinois is the second-most corrupt state, according to the University of Illinois-Chicago. This culture of corruption costs Illinoisans $556 million each year in potential economic growth.

The ComEd bribery scandal led to Madigan’s ouster as House speaker, but it also showed how pervasive corruption is in Illinois politics. The lawsuit shows just how difficult it is to recover the costs of corruption, and argues for vigorous prevention.

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