Patronage at ComEd benefited Madigan when he became unrivaled Statehouse king

Former Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan.

Justin Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

ComEd has long been a source of political patronage. The company’s deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors even references how former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s “old-fashioned patronage system” obtained ComEd meter reader jobs for its precinct workers.

Madigan’s wasn’t the only patronage network to do this. It was a widespread practice and, as old-timers tell it, became even more important when Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor, cut some prominent white politicians out of the city’s patronage spoils.

Madigan came up through a city ward system that was fed by patronage. But his people would always say that because he started his career as an employee of the Illinois Commerce Commission, he didn’t much care for utility companies. So, when ComEd did things like fire a bunch of his Statehouse lobbyist allies during a 2007 battle with Senate President Emil Jones and Gov. Rod Blagojevich, he liked them even less.

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After Blagojevich and Jones departed the scene, Madigan was left as the unrivaled Statehouse king. ComEd bent over backward to get into his good graces, and Madigan seemed, at least from a distance, to enjoy the groveling. It helped that Madigan’s own members complained at the time that the company’s services had deteriorated and that ComEd wasn’t respecting them when they complained. Madigan couldn’t have squeezed the company if his members loved …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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