Madigan pleads ‘not guilty’ to 22-count corruption indictment

Madigan pleads ‘not guilty’ to 22-count corruption indictment

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan entered a “not guilty” plea to federal racketeering and bribery charges March 9.

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan pleaded not guilty to 22 counts of federal criminal charges. The man who’s had a say in Illinois politics for four decades was silent during his arraignment over the phone.

Co-defendant Michael McClain also entered a “not guilty” plea. The indictment alleges Madigan and McClain orchestrated multiple bribery and extortion schemes dating back to 2011.

One scheme involved Chicago 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis while he was secretly cooperating with federal investigators. Madigan allegedly agreed to help transfer a Chinatown property from the state to Chicago in exchange for business with his tax law firm.

Thanks to COVID-19 protocols, Madigan and McClain didn’t have to stroll through a mob of reporters into the Dirksen Federal Courthouse the way past politicians have done in corruption cases.

The indictment came over a year after Madigan stepped down as speaker. David Parker, assistant professor at St. Xavier University, predicted the trial will also take a long time to unfold.

“It sounds like he’s in it for the long haul and he’s gonna play kind of a game of ‘who blinked first,’” Parker said.

Madigan, who turns 80 next month, doesn’t have to put up any money for bond. His main count, racketeering, comes with a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.

The next hearing is scheduled for April 1 before U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakely.

Besides illegal corruption, Madigan engaged in legal corruption with government worker unions in which he oversaw decades of generous benefits and pay in exchange for $10 million in contributions to campaign committees he controlled. The results have been the nation’s worst pension debt, which grew 753% during his reign.

The public unions have lost Madigan, but are now trying to enshrine the power they gained from him in the Illinois Constitution. Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot would make union power nearly impossible to curb and keep Madigan-style deals from ever being undone.

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