ILLINOIS — Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was released from prison after his corruption sentence was commuted in February, gave House Speaker Michael Madigan some unsolicited advice on how to handle being at the center of a federal investigation, saying “from one Public Official A to another.”
His reference to the federal moniker both Blagojevich and Madigan now share after the deferred prosecution agreement between the U.S. State’s Attorney John Lausch Jr. and Commonwealth Edison referred to the Illinois House Speaker as “Public Official A.” Blagojevich was referred to as “Public Official A” in the federal complaint that led to his arrest.
In the former governor’s podcast released this week, Blagojevich spent much of an hour criticizing Madigan for his decades in Springfield.
“Madigan’s way of government is all about serving himself, serving that entrenched, corrupt establishment in Springfield that serves itself at the expense of the people,” he told his attorney Mark Vargas.
Blagojevich, who had a rocky relationship with Madigan, said Madigan bolstered favor from those under government regulation, such as casinos, by adding two-year sunsets to bills that would send those under regulation back to Madigan every campaign cycle to “kiss the ring.”
While Blagojevich did say Madigan should have resigned years ago, he gave the speaker some advice on how to approach life as a target of federal investigators.
“As a fellow Public Official A, I say this tongue-in-cheek, but there’s nothing funny about it,” Blagojevich said. “He ought to get out there like I did. C’mon Mike. Talk to the media. Fight back. Look what they’re calling you, man. They’re calling you corrupt. If you’re truly innocent, Mike, fight back, man.”
Madigan did not respond to requests for comment, but released a statement that said he had not done anything wrong.
Blagojevich claimed, without providing evidence, that former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Speaker Madigan’s daughter, was tipped off to the federal investigations into Illinois lawmakers. This, Blagojevich said, was the reason for her announcement in September 2017 that she would not seek re-election for her fifth term as Attorney General.
“She decided unexpectedly to not run for a fifth term as attorney general, which was surprising because she was virtually assured, almost guaranteed, winning a fifth term because she runs virtually unopposed,” Blagojevich said. “With the cops knocking at the front door of her father’s house, I think Lisa thought it was prudent and the time was right for her to run out the back.”
A spokesperson for Lisa Madigan did not return requests for comment as of Friday afternoon.
Blagojevich also called out others in the Democratic Party of Illinois for their lack of accountability in calling for Madigan to answer to the implications contained in the ComEd deferred prosecution agreement.
“If they don’t really press Madigan to get out, then Gov. Pritzker and Mayor [Lori] Lightfoot, and all the Democratic House members, all the Democratic state senators, they’re all supporting corruption,” the former governor said.
Several House and Senate lawmakers have called on Madigan to resign but many, including Pritzker, said the speaker should resign only if the allegations are true.
President Donald Trump commuted the remaining 6 years of Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence for multiple corruption convictions in February. The Chicago Democrat served as governor from 2003 to 2009 when he was impeached by state lawmakers following his arrest for more than a dozen counts of corruption, including attempting to sell Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat and shaking down a children’s hospital for campaign donations.
He was famously caught saying Obama’s seat was “f***ing golden” and that he wouldn’t give it away for nothing in phone calls wiretapped by federal investigators. One of those calls included candid conversations with now-Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who later apologized for using racist descriptions of Black politicians.
Blagojevich has a long history of clashes with Madigan from his time in office.
The Center Square – Cole Lauterbach