SCOTUS bribery ruling expected to impact Madigan, ComEd Four cases

ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court about a federal bribery statute is expected to impact the high profile trial of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan as a defense attorney for the ComEd Four found guilty last year expects a retrial.


Madigan was charged with 22 counts of corruption in 2022 in a case federal authorities called “Madigan Enterprise.” They alleged over nearly a decade, Madigan used his position as House Speaker to steer contracts and no-show jobs from Commonwealth Edison to his associates in exchange for legislation favorable to the utility company.


Madigan, D-Chicago, was to go on trial in April but with the U.S. Supreme Court taking up a bribery conviction challenge out of Indiana, the judge postponed the trial until October.

Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued their ruling in the case Snyder v. U.S.


“Although a gratuity or reward offered and accepted by a state or local official after the official act may be unethical or illegal under other federal, state, or local laws, the gratuity does not violate §666 [the federal bribery statute],” Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the majority opinion.


Saint Xavier University Professor David Parker said the ruling opens a “can of worms” by narrowing bribery to something for something before an official action.


“Is it kind of a quid pro quo, something for something, or if it’s just a matter of saying ‘thank you,’” Parker told The Center Square. “And they kind of came back and said, ‘well, if it’s merely just a thank you, a gratuity, it doesn’t violate the law.’”


Parker expects the outcome to have some impact on Madigan’s case.


“Ultimately it can get him off the hook on some of the charges, but not all of them,” Parker said. “So I think it was wise to kind of wait and maybe shut the door down on a possible future appeal on the Snyder ruling.”


The ruling isn’t expected to affect 15 of the 22 counts against Madigan. Madigan faces an additional charge in a case involving a former AT&T official.


Also after Wednesday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, Scott Lassar, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore’s defense attorney, told The Center Square that “at a minimum there will be a new trial” for the ComEd 4, who were convicted of corruption last year in Chicago.


Parker said things will get interesting.


“You’ve got to look at the mens rea of the individuals involved,” he said. “So, I received a gift after the fact, but then you have to look at the provider, the giver, and say, ‘what was the intent on giving the gift.’”


On May 2, 2023, an Illinois jury convicted former state lawmaker and lobbyist Michael McClain, Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and former contract lobbyist Jay Doherty. The case involved a conspiracy to bribe Madigan with $1.3 million in no-show jobs, contracts and payments to associates in exchange for support with legislation that would benefit the utility’s bottom line.

Illinois Radio Network