Democrats in Illinois have held onto power with little interruption for decades, despite rampant corruption and illegal activities from the people at the very top.
It was only a little over a decade ago that former Governor Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of wire fraud, extortion, bribery – and even trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after he assumed the Presidency.
Now another powerful Illinois Democrat, a former Speaker of the Illinois House who was once one of the nation’s most powerful legislators, is facing a big rap sheet.
Michael Madigan, 79, now faces a 22-count indictment with a nearly $3 million racketeering conspiracy, using interstate facilities in aid of bribery, wire fraud and attempted extortion.
He is accused of benefiting from private legal work illegally steered to his law firm, including from firms with matters before the state or the city of Chicago.
The 106-page indictment brings to light an alleged conspiracy that has stretched back for decades with the intent “to preserve and to enhance Madigan’s political power and financial well-being” and to “reward Madigan’s political allies,” including by using his stranglehold over the legislative process.
In one of the more serious allegations Madigan is said to have met with a Chicago alderman who asked him for help in landing a state board appointment that paid $100,000 a year in exchange for sending legal work in the alderman’s ward to Madigan’s law firm.
In a statement, the former State House Speaker denied any wrongdoing, saying “I was never involved in any criminal activity. The government is attempting to criminalize a routine constituent service: job recommendations. That is not illegal, and these other charges are equally unfounded. Throughout my 50 years as a public servant, I worked to address the needs of my constituents, always keeping in mind the high standards required and the trust the public placed in me. I adamantly deny these accusations and look back proudly on my time as an elected official, serving the people of Illinois.”
During a news conference U.S. Attorney John Lausch, who brought the charges, said that Madigan’s alleged conduct “drastically undermines the public’s confidence in our government . . . As I’ve said before, we have a very stubborn public corruption problem here in Illinois.”
You don’t say!
While no one political party has a monopoly on corruption, it’s become abundantly clear that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Democrats’ power in Illinois has been pretty close to absolute.
Perhaps a change is in order.
Former President Donald Trump said it best when asking voters to shift their party preference after years of systemic failure with Democrats at the helm, “What have you got to lose?”
Stay tuned to Blue State Blues for any update to this ongoing story.