FORMER HIGH-RANKING COMED OFFICIAL CHARGED IN SCHEME TO BENEFIT SPEAKER
Exec charged with doling out cash, contracts to curry favor with Madigan
A former high-ranking ComEd official was charged with doling out money, jobs and contracts to benefit and curry influence with embattled Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, according to a court document filed late Friday.
Fidel Marquez, who was ComEd’s senior vice president of governmental and external affairs from March 2012 to September 2019, was charged in a criminal information, which indicates he intends to plead guilty.
Marquez also allegedly funneled $37,500 to a company not named in the criminal information for the benefit of associates of Madigan.
Marquez could not immediately be reached for comment. A phone number listed for him in Chicago was disconnected.
The criminal information comes after Madigan was implicated — but not charged — when federal prosecutors charged ComEd in a bribery scheme in July. The feds said the company sent $1.3 million in total to Madigan’s associates, who wound up doing little or no work for the payments. That came at a time when ComEd hoped to land Madigan’s support for legislation in Springfield worth more than $150 million to the utility.
Madigan has said publicly and repeatedly that he has done nothing wrong. ComEd has struck a deferred prosecution agreement with prosecutors, which means that the bribery charge will be dropped if the utility abides by its agreement with the feds, including paying a $200 million fine.
Friday night, ComEd spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier issued this statement: “We are not in a position to comment on specific matters related to this former ComEd executive or beyond what is in the statement of facts in ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement.”
A spokeswoman for Madigan, asked to comment Friday night, sent an email with an earlier statement maintaining Madigan’s innocence in the ongoing case:
“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. He has never made a legislative decision with improper motives and has engaged in no wrongdoing here. Any claim to the contrary is unfounded.”
The court document outlining the bribery details against ComEd largely paints a picture of a lobbyist, Mike McClain, pressuring ComEd officials to give jobs, contracts and money to Madigan associates.
It alleges Madigan and McClain sought from ComEd jobs, contracts and money for various Madigan associates between 2011 and 2019, and that McClain acted on Madigan’s behalf.
The court documents in the case do not identify Madigan, or even McClain, by name. Rather, they refer to a “Public Official A” who serves as the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. The SunTimes has separately identified McClain as the person identified in the documents as “Individual A.”
Madigan’s quiet but iron-fisted control over his chamber has earned him the nickname “The Velvet Hammer,” and lobbyists and fellow legislators frequently toss around the maxim, “Never bet against the speaker.” The 78-yearold harkens back to the days of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, whom Madigan considers his mentor.
The criminal charge against ComEd follows more than a year of intrigue regarding the feds’ public corruption investigations and whether their work would ever touch Madigan. The new allegations against him became public as part of a deal ComEd struck with the U.S. attorney’s office commonly known as a deferred-prosecution agreement. If ComEd abides by the terms of the three-year arrangement, the bribery charge filed Friday is expected to be dismissed.
The agreement said ComEd will cooperate in the prosecutors’ investigations. Unlike in other such agreements, though, ComEd is not expected to plead guilty and formally admit to the criminal conduct. A judge still has to approve the deal.
Madigan also is head of the Illinois Democratic Party. A spokeswoman for the party declined to comment on the latest developments Friday.
House Speaker Michael Madigan is once again implicated in a scheme to benefit ComEd, according to a criminal information filed Friday.