SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The former Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan is pleading not guilty to the newest charge added to his docket.
Lawyers for Michael Madigan entered a not guilty plea at an arraignment hearing Tuesday in Chicago. This arraignment focused on the newest charge Madigan is facing – a charge of conspiracy alleging that Madigan took money from AT&T Illinois and in exchange pushed through legislation benefitting the company. Federal prosecutors added the charge of conspiracy connecting Madigan with AT&T last month, after the company admitted to paying Madigan, and agreed to pay a $23 million fine.
Madigan did not appear in court for the arraignment. A federal judge granted a request from Madigan’s lawyers to waive his right to be present at the proceedings. Madigan has largely dodged the public eye since being indicted last spring. The original 22 charges claim Madigan solicited bribes of money and jobs for allies from northern Illinois electric company Commonwealth Edison in exchange for favorable legislation.
During his first arraignment, the proceedings were handled remotely, and during the phone call, Madigan stayed silent.
Madigan’s long time confidant Michael McClain is also being charged with conspiracy following the revelations around AT&T. McClain also pleaded not guilty.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin condemned the Democratic representatives in a news conference for never acknowledging Madigan’s corruption.
“I can’t imagine what defense Madigan and his cronies can cook up when two of the largest publicly held employers in Illinois, have admitted in open court to bribing him for legislative favors.” Durkin said. “What’s really fascinating is that the entire House Democratic Caucus, during that time during two years ago, chose to bury their heads in the sand, and worse blocked any attempt to seek the truth in the Illinois house.”
Top ranking democrats, including Governor Pritzker and current Speaker of the House Emmanuel “Chris” Welch, have denounced Madigan since he was indicted.
In a statement after Madigan was indicted in October, Governor Pritzker said, “This indictment further condemns a system rife with promises of pay-to-play, and I have worked and will continue to work to end the era of corruption and self-dealing among Illinois politicians. I appreciate the work of law enforcement to help restore the public’s trust in government and urge all parties to move swiftly to bring these charges to a close.”
Durkin also guessed that more companies besides ComEd and AT&T Illinois will be uncovered for illegally working with Madigan.
The next court date for Madigan is Nov. 17.