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THREAD: What insights can we glean from recent reports that federal prosecutors secretly recorded Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan? #twill
1/ Today @suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman reported that an affidavit indicated that federal prosecutors secretly recorded Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan as part of their corruption investigation, which has ensnared Alderman Ed Burke. chicago.suntimes.com/?post_type=cst…
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 2/ In a separate article (below) describing other details from the affidavit, they describe it as a search warrant affidavit. That is important context that helps us understand what the affidavit contains.

@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 3/ For one thing, that means that this was not an affidavit that sought to establish that anyone was guilty of a crime. The mere fact that conversations were described in a search warrant affidavit don't mean that, standing alone, are sufficient to charge a crime.
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 4/ The conversations at issue here were recorded by Alderman Danny Solis, who was cooperating with federal investigators. The conversation described in the article that will receive the most attention was a conversation between Solis and a real estate developer, *not* Madigan.
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 5/ Solis made a video and audio recording of a meeting that Solis set up between Madigan and a real estate developer, which was benign. Madigan told the developer that his law firm wanted a long term relationship with the developer.

The conversation without Madigan came after.
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 6/ In the next conversation, Solis said that if the associate "works with the speaker, he will get anything he needs for that hotel." He later added, “he’s going to benefit from being with the speaker . . . okay?”
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 7/ The obvious implication one could draw from Solis's comment is that if the developer worked with Madigan's law firm, he would receive some form of public benefit due to hiring Madigan.

In fact, that is the implication the FBI drew in the affidavit itself.
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 8/ According to @suntimes the FBI agent wrote: “I understand Solis to mean that by hiring Madigan’s private firm, [the developer] would ensure that Solis and Madigan would take official action benefitting [the developer] in their capacity as public officials.”
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 9/ Explanations of recorded conversations like this one are common in federal affidavits. They are meant to provide context for conversations that would otherwise be unclear, and contain the Feds' interpretation of those conversations. They're not a legal determination.
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 10/ The reason I'm cautioning you about that is that the conversation, on its own, is not proof that Madigan committed a federal crime. It is a federal crime to offer an official action in exchange for something of value, but Madigan never did that in this conversation.
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 11/ Solis was the one who made that suggestion while he was under the direction of federal law enforcement. What federal prosecutors would need to charge Madigan was proof that Madigan, not Solis, was offering an official act in exchange for hiring his law firm.
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 12/ Perhaps Solis was working at Madigan's direction, and there are separate conversations between Solis and Madigan. If he was, it was not contained in this particular affidavit. There's no question that Madigan and everyone else dealing with Solis could be under investigation.
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 13/ But while this affidavit is interesting, alone it doesn't suggest to me that federal prosecutors have evidence that Madigan committed a federal crime. It is highly problematic for state officials to do business with individuals seeking benefits from them, but not criminal.
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 14/ The @suntimes story indicates that there are more shoes left to drop in the federal criminal investigation that has already generated charges against Burke. It also may generate new calls for reforms, because it may reveal practices that are unethical but not criminal.
@Suntimes @SeidelContent @TinaSfon @fspielman 15/ Given the sheer number of lawmakers who dealt with Solis, this likely will not be the last recorded conversation we hear about coming from this federal investigation. /end
ADDENDUM: As @capitolfax notes, the recording was made by the developer’s associate, *not* Solis. That suggests that Solis’s comment was evidence of wrongdoing by Solis, but it doesn’t change my conclusions about what this means vis-a-vis Madigan.
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