Madigan’s former chief indicted for lying about boss, bribery suspect

Madigan’s former chief indicted for lying about boss, bribery suspect

A federal probe again hit close to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. The indictment of his former chief of staff is the latest indication questions are still being asked about Madigan, bribery and corruption.

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s longtime chief of staff was indicted May 26 on charges stating he lied to a grand jury about Madigan’s relationship with a longtime confidant who orchestrated the Commonwealth Edison bribery scheme.

Federal prosecutors said Tim Mapes, 66, of Springfield, Illinois, repeatedly lied to a grand jury March 31 about Madigan’s relationship with ComEd lobbyist and Madigan confidant Michael McClain. Mapes was granted immunity just before the testimony, but prosecutors said he perjured himself and obstructed justice by lying about Madigan and McClain’s relationship between 2017 and 2019.

Madigan ousted Mapes in 2018 during a sexual harassment scandal. McClain was Madigan’s close friend and confidant, and was charged with bribery for overseeing the $1.3 million bribery scheme intended to win Madigan’s favor on legislation worth $150 million to the electric utility giant.

The indictment is the latest indication not only that the federal corruption probe is active, but also that questions are still being asked about Madigan.

Madigan was ousted as Illinois House speaker in January after 36 years. Shortly after losing the gavel, he quit after 50 years as a state representative and also resigned as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

His party members turned on him after losing the “fair tax” vote, losing an Illinois Supreme Court retention race, losing a House seat and failing to make expected gains. Opponents were able to link issues and candidates to Madigan as the embodiment of Illinois corruption, so he was quickly tagged for the losses.

Arraignment had not been set for Mapes. The grand jury is investigating public corruption, prosecutors said.

Illinois has a long list of public leaders indicted and convicted for corruption, including four former governors. Federal prosecutors have in recent years charged two state senators and two state representatives.

Illinois is the second-most corrupt state in the nation, according to research by the University of Illinois-Chicago. And corruption costs the state economy more than $550 million per year.

As state lawmakers near the end of the current legislative session, they have yet to advance any of the ethics reforms that were promised. They have until May 31 to pass reforms that could change Illinois’ culture of corruption.

There are already bills that should serve as the models for those reforms. The path forward:

  • empowers the watchdog charged with holding lawmakers accountable for wrongdoing. Those reforms are embodied in House Bill 2774.
  • improves transparency by improving financial disclosures from lawmakers. House Bill 3751 and Senate Bill 1597 would achieve that goal.
  • prohibits members of the General Assembly from working as lobbyists to executive agencies and local governments. House Bill 3664 calls for that change.
  • requires a cooling off period before lawmakers can become lobbyists to the General Assembly after leaving office. The revolving door would be stopped by House Bill 3486.

Mapes was a steady and powerful presence in the Statehouse. His indictment is a not-so-subtle reminder that Illinois politicians will end up paying if they fail to fight corruption.

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