Madigan’s arraignment over AT&T bribery charges set for Nov. 1
Michael Madigan, former Illinois House speaker, and his longtime political ally and operative will enter pleas in federal court Nov. 1. They are charged with coercing bribes from AT&T in return for passing favorable legislation in Springfield.
Madigan’s second arraignment comes seven months after the nation’s longest-serving House speaker was indicted by federal authorities on 22 counts of corruption in connection with the Commonwealth Edison bribery scandal.
Madigan will enter a plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole to charges of misconduct alongside longtime ally and political operative Michael McClain, who was also indicted on charges stating he orchestrated the ComEd scheme.
While both Madigan and McClain have pleaded “not guilty” to previous corruption charges, AT&T entered a deferred prosecution agreement with the federal authorities after admitting to involvement in the scheme. The telecommunications company promised to pay $23 million in fines and cooperate with authorities to assist in Madigan’s prosecution.
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 also agreed to pay $200 million in restitution.
Illinois labor unions contributed $10 million over 26 years to campaign funds under Madigan’s control. He responded by building up union power and a generous public pension system that Illinois taxpayers cannot afford.
Under Madigan’s leadership, government unions saw lawmakers pass the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. Both mandated collective bargaining for government employees and gave them the power to strike – a power many states do not allow and one labor and political leaders advised against.
His pro-union legislation and decades of subsequent laws ultimately created a public pension system so generous that just the unfunded debt grew from $5.94 billion in 1982 to $130 billion in 2021 when he left office. That’s a 689% increase after adjusting for inflation.
Madigan used government union campaign cash and the House rules to keep other lawmakers and even governors under his control.
Even though Madigan’s been out of office for over a year and is now indicted in two different federal corruption probes, government unions could replace his corrupt path to power with a legal one: get Amendment 1 put into the Illinois Constitution.
Amendment 1 is a proposal at the top of the Nov. 8 ballot that would expand negotiations far beyond traditional wage and benefit issues. If passed, the ballot measure would empower government unions to negotiate over a nearly endless array of subjects.
If property tax rates simply continue to increase at their long-run average rate, the typical homeowner will pay over $2,100 in additional property taxes during the next four years. Amendment 1 could greatly accelerate that by giving government unions more power to make more demands. Then all Illinoisans would be forced to pay the bill for costly contract concessions that carry more weight than state law. Those government union powers don’t exist in any other state.
Voters have a choice Nov. 8: let Madigan’s legacy continue through Amendment 1, or protect themselves from more of the income and property tax hikes driven by the over-generous political favors granted Illinois’ government unions.