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Madigan, Madigan, Madigan.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is all politics junkies can talk about now that the feds have made it crystal clear that the Diminutive Don is at the top of their hit list — and for good reason.

He’s been the political big man in this state for decades — serving as a member of the Illinois House since 1971 and as speaker for all but two years since 1983.

Owing to his shrewd acquisition of power, Madigan has sole control over the legislative process in the House, meaning that nothing passes without his support or acquiescence.

As chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, he’s fundraiser-in-chief for House Democrats. Money is oxygen in politics, and Madigan can cut it off anytime he pleases. Those who cross him do so at their peril and to their eventual regret; that’s why few do.

But there’s more to corruption in the politically rancid state of Illinois than the massive, multi-year Commonwealth Edison bribery scheme, and the alleged starring role that Madigan plays in it.

The ComEd bribery conspiracy been on the radar screen for months now and always had the potential to turn into Mount Vesuvius because of Madigan’s alleged role in it.

But other federal investigations remain pending, with some heavy hitters charged and others pleading guilty and cooperating.

Where it will lead and how much time it will take is anyone’s guess but.

In addition to the 78-year-old Madigan’s legal vulnerability, Chicago Alderman Ed Burke already has been named in a multi-count indictment in connection with using his vast aldermanic powers to force private businesses seeking accommodations from the city to hire his law firm.

Burke’s racketeering trial is pending, not expected to begin until perhaps mid-2021.

But federal wiretaps and cooperating witnesses have him up against the wall.

For those not familiar with Burke, he is to City Hall in Chicago what Madigan is to the General Assembly in Springfield.

Married to the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, the 76-year-old Burke faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.

Then, there’s former Chicago state Sen. Martin Sandoval.

The former chairman of the state Senate’s transportation committee, he’s already pleaded guilty and agreed to sing like Pavarotti.

Among the sleaziest of the Illinois Senate’s sleazeballs, there’s no telling how much damage Sandoval can do to his fellow politicos. But he’s heavy into serious criminal conduct, including red-light-camera shakedown deals, shady construction contracts and sweetheart financial arrangements with corruption-laden communities like Cicero.

Here’s another blast from the not-so-distant past — state Sen. Thomas Cullerton of Villa Park.

As chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, he posed as a champion of the working man.

But that — allegedly — didn’t stop him from ripping off the Teamsters Union of nearly $275,000 from a no-show job and pension benefits.

Comparatively speaking, Cullerton is a little fish, not nearly so big as his cousin, former Senate President John Cullerton.

The big fish in the Tom Cullerton caper is former Teamsters boss Frank Coli Jr., Tom Cullerton’s benefactor before becoming his chief accuser.

Described by the Chicago media as the son of a former Outfit hit man, Coli has been around Illinois politics for years and supposedly knows where the bodies are buried.

Coli got caught by the feds in an extortion scheme and agreed to tell all in exchange for a slap on the wrist — a comparatively short prison term.

The feds don’t give guys like Coli a sweetheart deal like that unless he, in exchange, can give them cases like that of Tom Cullerton.

The potential for major fireworks here looks promising.

Finally, there are a couple other lowlifes/dedicated public servants caught in the feds’ net.

After getting caught with his hands in the cookie jar, former Chicago Alderman Danny Solis wore a wire for the feds for three years. When his undercover role was publicly disclosed, Solis’ fellow aldermen castigated him, and it’s not hard to imagine why they were upset.

Solis is reportedly a player in the Burke investigation. But Burke was too — unknowingly.

The feds reportedly taped hundreds of hours of his phone conversations before he got wind of the bug and ditched his regular phone for a burner to keep sensitive conversations away from prying ears.

Last but not least, there’s former Chicago state Rep. Luis Arroyo, who was caught on tape offering a bribe to state Sen. Terry Link.

The Waukegan Democrat reportedly agreed to wear a wire for the feds after he was implicated in federal income-tax evasion.

Arroyo was seeking Link’s help in passing legislation favored by an Arroyo lobbying client, so it’s not clear how far this investigation will spread.

But Arroyo, at least for now, is more important for the precedent he represents than the laws he broke.

After Arroyo was charged with bribery, Madigan in late 2019 demanded his immediate resignation from the House in order “to restore the public’s trust.”

Wonder how Madigan feels about setting the Arroyo precedent now that Madigan is allegedly Public Official A, the alleged ringmaster of the ComEd bribery conspiracy?

Jim Dey, a member of The News-Gazette staff, can be reached at or 217-351-5369.

Opinions Editor

Jim Dey is a staff writer for The News-Gazette. His email is