With Madigan’s corruption trial delayed, calls to clean up Illinois government persist

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(The Center Square) – Even though the former Illinois House speaker has bought more time before his corruption trial takes place, an state lawmaker says the time is now for ethics reforms.

A federal judge decided to postpone the corruption trial of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, until October, after the U.S. Supreme Court deals with a case concerning federal bribery laws. That case involves the former mayor of Portage, Indiana, and what defines “bribery” for public officials.

Madigan was indicted in March 2022 on 23 charges, including racketeering and bribery, but the trial has been postponed from April until Oct. 8, less than a month before the general election. The charges stem from the alleged improper dealings with the state’s largest utility, Commonwealth Edison.

Alongside three others in the ComEd Four trial, former Democratic state Rep. Michael McClain was convicted last May of multiple counts in connection with the utility’s bribery efforts. He is listed as a co-defendant in the Madigan case and is facing new charges.

House Minority Leader Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, said the delay is disappointing. She is not optimistic that any kind of ethics reforms will be addressed during the next legislative session.

“Unfortunately, here we sit with all of these cases and [House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside] and Democrat leaders continue to not push for any real ethics reforms,” McCombie told The Center Square.

A request for comment from Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch’s office went unanswered.

Madigan’s new trial date is about a month before the November election when all seats in the Illinois House and about a third of the Illinois Senate will be on the ballot.

“Everyone deserves a quick and speedy trial, and when people choose not to do that, you have to kind of wonder what is the reason behind that,” said McCombie. “It’s self serving for sure.”

McCombie has introduced a bill that would end the practice of allowing criminally accused elected officials to use campaign funds for a criminal defense after it was disclosed that Madigan has used millions of dollars in campaign funds for his criminal defense.

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield Tuesday, Jan. 16.

“We’ll probably be playing defense on my colleagues looking for revenue sources, also known as tax increases, to pay for supplemental budgeting, so those are things we are going to be watching,” McCombie said.

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