Michael Madigan

Former Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series. Part II touches on allegations against Republicans at the state or local levels. Part III brings the narrative home to Oklahoma.
 
Oklahoma City – Four major state-level news streams involving wrongdoing or potential wrongdoing by government officials involve high-ranking or formerly high-ranking Democrats. This story focused on them.
 
As prosecutors at the federal, state and local level often point out, at least in press releases about the process, criminal charges must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In other words, in courts if not in the court of public opinion, a presumption of innocence exists. Or should exist.
 
Kathy McGuinness, a rising star, faces serious prosecutors
 
Auditor Kathy McGuiness of Delaware, traditionally deemed The First State, is a Democrat. She was elected to office in 2018.
 
As Randall Chase of The Associated Press reported, she “is responsible for rooting out government fraud, waste and abuse. She was indicted in October [2021] on felony counts of theft and witness intimidation, and misdemeanor charges of official misconduct, conflict of interest and noncompliance with procurement laws. She has denied any wrongdoing.”
 
After an initial flurry of activity in the case surrounding her, prosecutorial momentum in the case was slowed in early June because “the venue where an alleged offense occurred is among the essential elements Delaware law requires in an indictment.”
 
 
McGuinness lives “in Sussex County and her office is in the state capital, Dover, in Kent County, but prosecutors brought the case in New Castle County.”
 
“Prosecutors argued that the indictment was sufficient for trial because McGuiness serves all three counties and her alleged crimes affected all three counties.”
The presiding judge was skeptical, but eventually the prosecution got back on track.
 
Questions of venue aside, “The charges include allegations that McGuiness hired her daughter as a temporary employee in May 2020, even though other temporary employees had left because of the lack of available work amid the coronavirus pandemic. McGuiness is also accused of orchestrating a no-bid "communications services" contract for a company she had used as a campaign consultant when running for lieutenant governor in 2016, then keeping the contract payments under $5,000 each to avoid having to get approval from the Division of Accounting. Authorities also allege that when employees in her office became aware of McGuiness' misconduct, she responded by trying to intimidate the whistleblowers, including monitoring their email accounts.”
 
The Delaware News Journal -- a USA Today newspaper like The Oklahoman -- is following the case.
 
Luis Arroyo of Illinois will go to prison for bribery
 
Once a powerful leader in the Illinois House of Representatives, Luis Arroyo D-Chicago is at the front end of a possible 20 years in prison for bribery.
The case is a significant one – but not the most newsworthy from the Land of Lincoln (see below).
 
“A criminal complaint alleged Arroyo gave a $2,500 bribe to a sitting state senator who had been cooperating with federal investigators. The senator was not named in the complaint.
“The bribe was part of a scam that involved popular but technically illegal ‘sweepstakes’ games and involved the state senator and the son-in-law of a once-powerful Cook County politician.
 
“Arroyo was charged with bribery in October 2019 after federal prosecutors announced he had paid a $2,500 bribe to the senator who was wearing a recording device. Arroyo resigned the next month from the House seat he had held for nearly 13 years.
 
 
The Associated Press story continued:
“A follow-up indictment filed last year added wire and mail fraud charges against Arroyo and lodged similar charges against James T. Weiss, the son-in-law of former Cook County Democratic leader Joseph Berrios.
“Weiss allegedly began paying Arroyo bribes in November 2018 in exchange for the lawmakers' support of legislation favorable to sweepstakes machines, a specialty of Weiss' company. Not technically gambling instruments, they proliferate even though state regulators had declared them illegal.
 
“Needing an ally in the Senate, Arroyo approached a then-veteran member of that chamber who was cooperating with the FBI for leniency in a false tax return investigation. The senator recorded a meeting with Arroyo in which the two agreed to $2,500-per-month in kickbacks for the senator's complicity.
“Citing anonymous sources, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune identified the senator as Democrat Terry Link of Vernon Hills, who repeatedly denied the label. But Link pleaded guilty in September 2020 to filing a false tax return before resigning his post. The FBI announced Link had been cooperating with the government criminal investigation and prosecutors indicated they would seek probation if his help continued in good faith.”
 
Also reporting on the Arroyo case from the journalistic front-lines has been Jon Seidel of The Chicago Sun Times.
 
At the time of the sentencing, he reported:
"Four months ago, a lawyer for disgraced former state Rep. Luis Arroyo told a judge that sending Arroyo to prison would be ‘no more effective than draining Lake Michigan with a spoon’ because it wouldn’t end Chicago corruption.
"U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger retorted Wednesday [May 25] that, ‘Maybe judges need a bigger spoon.’”
 
The judge "called Arroyo a 'corruption super-spreader’", Seidel reported.
 
Further study of local news sources reveals that Arroyo must give the government the $32,500 he netted from his criminal scheme.
He must report back to court by August 31, from whence he will begin his long term in the joint.
 
Seidel’s description of Arroyo’s departure from court in late May, was actually poignant.
He had arrived for the sentencing hearing with an entourage of supporters and lawyers.
After learning his fate, he left all by himself.
 
Remember this: Sometimes the definition of a machine, and the legal status of a machine, is important in corruption cases – and not only in Illinois.
 
Florida’s Corrine Brown, who made Congressional history, got a break – and wants to run again
 
Former U.S. Representative Corrine Brown, a Florida Democrat, remains an historic figure. One month ago this week, it appeared the final chapter of her political life might be at hand.
 
As Curt Anderson reported for The Associated Press, "A criminal case against former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, one of the first Black representatives elected to Congress from Florida after Reconstruction, ended Wednesday with her guilty plea to a tax charge in a charity fraud case.”
 
Her fall from power was dramatic and had seemed, some weeks ago, final.
From Anderson’s story in May: "Brown, 75, had been convicted before in 2017 of 18 counts and served more than two years of her five-year sentence in prison before her release on humanitarian grounds due to the coronavirus pandemic and its potential harm on older incarcerated people.”
 
She has never been exonerated in The Sunshine State, and agreed to seemingly important things in her accord with the federal government: "A plea agreement filed in court says that although the charge carries a possible three-year prison sentence, federal prosecutors recommend that the judge not impose any additional prison time, but order that the Democrat pay more than $62,000 in restitution to the IRS."
 
It seems that dreams die hard.
On June 16, former Rep. Brown announced she would file to run anew in the Tenth Congressional District (Orlando).
 
Marilyn Mosby of Maryland, a prosecutor, is under scrutiny for perjury
 
Marilyn Mosby, the nationally-known Baltimore State’s Attorney (prosecutor, equivalent to a District Attorney), has secured a delay in her trial for perjury, falsification of records and other offenses.
She has from the start denounced charges against her as malicious, and is seeking renomination in the July 19 Democratic primary.
 
Once known as a rising star among criminal justice reformers working within the system itself, 2022 has been rough year for Mosby, one of the most familiar faces in the Land of Pleasant Living (once upon a time known as the Old Line State).
 
 
An African-American, she has denounced all charges against her. She frequently says some critics, including journalists, are motivated by racism.
 
The AP reports Mosby was "indicted ... on charges of perjury and making false mortgage applications in the purchase of two Florida vacation homes, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland said.
"The four-count indictment alleges that … Mosby lied about meeting qualifications for coronavirus-related distributions from a city retirement plan in 2020. Federal prosecutors also allege that Mosby lied on 2020 application forms for mortgages to purchase a home in Kissimmee, Florida, and a condominium in Long Boat Key, Florida."
 
 
Her trial had been set for May 2, but now it won’t start until September 10, if then.
 
Mosby came to prominence in 2014, when she became, at age 34, the youngest elected prosecutor in any American city.
 
After Freddy Gray died (from severe spinal cord injuries) while in police custody, she charged six Baltimore police officers with second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
 
Many legal analysts – local, regional and national – argued she had overcharged the cops.
The male officers (both Black and White) were ultimately all acquitted.
 
Despite controversy surrounding that and other decisions, she secured reelection in 2018 with only scattered write-in opposition.
Shortly after that victory, she announced she would no longer prosecute a variety of drug offenses.
 
When federal prosecutors moved against her for the alleged false applications, she responded with charges of bias against the investigators and prosectors.
As pointed out, she has from time to time accused local news reports of racial animosity.
But the reporters are still covering the story.
 
The Madigan Enterprise comes undone
 
In March of this year, the most notable prosecution for political corruption in recent American history took on added intensity.
Former Illinois Speaker of the House, decades ago garnered the nickname as “the Velvet Hammer” for his enforcement of party unity within the legislative Democratic caucus year after year, after year.
 
Michael Tarm and John O'Connor of The Associated Press reported in March of this year that Madigan -- who first disrupted the news cycle when he abruptly left office in 2021 -- had been "charged with a nearly $3 million racketeering and bribery scheme."
 
The historic 22-count indictment against him included "racketeering conspiracy, using interstate facilities in aid of bribery, wire fraud and attempted extortion."
 
Further, "The 106-page indictment alleges Madigan used not just his role as speaker, but various positions of power to further his alleged criminal enterprise, including his chairmanship of the Illinois Democratic Party. It also accuses Madigan of reaping the benefits of private legal work illegally steered to his law firm, including from firms with matters before the state or the city of Chicago."
 
The lengthy narrative and other court filings laid out the substance of what local reporters and politicians deemed "The Madigan Enterprise."
The enterprise, it turns out, was not limited to state Capitol business. It reached into the corridors of economic power at ComEd, one of the nation’s most powerful utilities.
 
Madigan was referred to "Public Official A" in a judicial filing describing how, from 2011 to 2019, he secured "favorable treatment in regulatory rules impacting the utility."
 
The utility agreed in August 2020 to pay $200 million to avoid prosecution, although individual criminal charges remained on the table.
As evidence of the underlying scandal deepened, Madigan had to abandon his powerful post at the capitol in Springfield.
 
Carol Marin, an NBC political editor based in Illinois, deemed Madigan's fall the "most sweeping federal investigation we have ever seen come out of the Dirksen."
 
 
Marin’s reference was to the Everett McKinley Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, which houses the offices of the federal court for the Northern District of Illinois. It is named for a prior legend of Illinois politics, the late Republican Senator known for his fiscal and policy conservatism. He is the man who said “A billion here, and a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
 
Which brings us, in the course of human events, to the Republicans.
And that is Part II in this series.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Preview YouTube video Convicted felon and former U.S. Congresswoman Corrine Brown is once again running for office
 
 

Convicted felon and former U.S. Congresswoman Corrine Brown is once again running for office
 

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