Share the article: Pritzker’s “Madigan Defense Tour” Continues

During a stop in Peoria yesterday in what’s becoming a statewide “Madigan Defense Tour,” Governor JB Pritzker was asked if he still considers Speaker Michael Madigan a political ally.

Pritzker refused to answer.  Instead, he seemed to defend Madigan by calling “some” accusations against Madigan “just implied.”

Just implied?  What part of naming Mike Madigan as “Public Official A” in a years-long bribery scandal was “just implied?”  Maybe Pritzker should read this overview of accusations described by WBEZ yesterday:

  • Does Juan Ochoa, Madigan’s former ComEd board members, think these accusations are “just implied”?
  •  Individual A “explained that for decades, [Madigan] had named individuals to be ComEd employees, such as meter readers, as part of an ‘old-fashioned patronage system.” Does Individual A think the accusations are “just implied”?

In Champaign, Pritzker called for ethics reform as he openly condemned ComEd and blamed a culture of corrupt Springfield lobbyists.  For Pritzker, it seems, everyone is to blame except Mike Madigan.  The most urgent ethics reform Pritzker seems unable to support is Mike Madigan’s resignation.

Pritzker’s inability to cut off ties with Madigan and call for his resignation is reminiscent of a moment during the 2017-2018 gubernatorial primary when Pritzker refused to distance himself from Madigan and called accusations of his corruption nothing more than a Republican “talking point.”

Meanwhile, WBEZ reported that Pritzker is also doubling down in his defense of Madigan ally and daughter-in-law of a person of interest in the Madigan bribery investigation who Pritzker appointed to chair the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates ComEd.  The Zalewski family is part of Madigan’s inner circle.

Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday staunchly defended the politically-connected head of the state agency that regulates the scandal-scarred Commonwealth Edison power company and other public utilities.

Pritzker’s appointee as chairwoman of the Illinois Commerce Commission is Carrie Zalewski — whose father-in-law, former 23rd Ward Ald. Michael Zalewski — profited from the broad and long-running bribery scheme ComEd has admitted to perpetrating in Illinois politics.

According to federal court records unsealed Friday, the giant electric company acknowledged steering consulting contracts to allies of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, in exchange for favorable government action in Springfield.

The feds said a former alderman they described as “Associate A” got a ComEd subcontract worth $5,000 a month after he retired from the Chicago City Council in May 2018, and Madigan allegedly brokered the “arrangement” with ComEd’s chief executive. Michael Zalewski left the Council in May 2018, and a source familiar with the ongoing federal investigation confirmed he is Associate A.

Madigan’s office had also repeatedly recommended Carrie Zalewski for a job at the ICC before Pritzker appointed her to the $136,800-a-year post in April 2019, less than three months after the governor took office, WBEZ has reported.


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