CHICAGO (WGEM/AP) — Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, for decades one of the nation’s most powerful state legislators, has been charged with racketeering and bribery.
Charging documents unsealed Wednesday accuse the 79-year-old Chicago Democrat of 22 counts of leading a criminal enterprise whose purpose was to enhance the political power and financial well-being of Madigan and his allies.
Madigan becomes the most prominent politician swept up in a series of raids and indictments targeting Illinois Democrats.
Until earlier this year, Madigan was the longest-serving state House speaker in modern American history. He was nicknamed the “Velvet Hammer” for his insistence on strict party discipline.
Also named in the indictment was Mike McClain, a former Quincy lawmaker, lobbyist, and close confidant of Madigan.
U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. laid out the charges as a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Chicago. Lausch said Madigan led, “for nearly a decade, a criminal enterprise, whose purpose was to enhance Madigan’s political power and financial well-being, while also generating income for his political allies and associates.”
Lausch said the charges allege that Madigan, McClain and other members of the enterprise unlawfully solicited benefits from businesses and other private parties.
“As alleged in the indictment, Madigan and McClain unlawfully requested that various companies with interests in state legislation, including utility company Commonwealth Edison, paid Madigan’s associates as a reward for their loyalty to Madigan, at times for performing little to no legitimate work for those businesses,” Lausch said.
Lausch also said Madigan used various schemes to generate business for his lawfirm, Madigan and Getzendanner.
“Unfortunately, this type of criminal conduct drastically undermines the public’s confidence in our government,” Lausch said. “Simply put, it’s not a good thing.”
Lausch said the most serious of the charges against Madigan and McClain could carry a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of more than $2.8 million from Madigan and McClain, which is alleged to have been obtained, directly or indirectly, from activity laid out in the charges.
Lausch said that while mention in the indictment was made of meetings with then Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker in 2018, no allegations were being made against the governor or his staff.
McClain, a Democrat, was appointed to the Illinois House in 1972 and won re-election four times before he was defeated by Jeff Mays in 1982.
McClain then went on to become one of the most powerful lobbyists in Springfield. He retired from lobbying in 2016.
McClain was a former attorney in Quincy.
Read the indictment below:
The Associated Press Contributed to this story.
Copyright 2022 TWGEM. All rights reserved.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism