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Illinois political powerhouse implicated in corruption probe

Longtime Illinois House Speaker and state Democratic Party chairman Michael Madigan is facing calls for his resignation after federal prosecutors implicated him in an alleged bribery scheme, which has resulted in utility company ComEd agreeing to a $200 million fine.

Federal prosecutors said that utility company ComEd admitted to providing jobs or contracts “for various associates of a high-level elected official for the state of Illinois.” While Madigan’s name was not mentioned, a federal court filing identifies the official as the Illinois House speaker.

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“The speaker has a lot that he needs to answer for, to authorities, to investigators, and most importantly, to the people of Illinois,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “If these allegations of wrongdoing by the speaker are true, there is no question that he will have betrayed the public trust and he must resign.”

Prosecutors claim that the purpose of the alleged scheme was “to influence and reward the official’s efforts to assist ComEd with respect to legislation concerning ComEd and its business.” In a news release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that “Public Official A” influenced lawmakers regarding legislation that impacted ComEd. At this time, Madigan has not been charged and has not been formally accused of wrongdoing.

The $200 million fine for ComEd is part of a deferred prosecution agreement the company signed. The investigation of the alleged scheme continues, and Madigan’s office confirmed that he has received subpoenas for documents related to job recommendations, while insisting that he did nothing wrong.

“The Speaker has never helped someone find a job with the expectation that the person would not be asked to perform work by their employer, nor did he ever expect to provide anything to a prospective employer if it should choose to hire a person he recommended,” Madigan’s office said in a statement. “He has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and has engaged in no wrongdoing here. Any claim to the contrary is unfounded.”

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The statement continued, saying that Madigan believes his cooperation with the suboenas “will clearly demonstrate that he has done nothing criminal or improper.”

Madigan has served on the state legislature since 1971. He first assumed the role of speaker in 1983, and has held the position ever since, with the exception of two years when Democrats lost their majority. He is the longest-serving state House speaker in the country. His daughter Lisa also served as state attorney general.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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