AT&T subsidiary in Illinois is the subject of a federal criminal investigation


An AT&T subsidiary run by a former senior aide to former House Speaker Michael Madigan could face criminal charges as an apparent consequence of an ongoing federal investigation into the dethroned Chicago Democrat, the state has revealed. corporation in federal regulation. deposit.

The telecommunications giant reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission that a consulting contract executed in 2017 by Illinois Bell Telephone Company LLC was the subject of a previously undisclosed federal investigation led by U.S. attorney John Lausch in Chicago.

“Recently, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois informed us that it was considering filing a lawsuit against one of our subsidiaries, Illinois Bell Telephone Company, LLC (Illinois Bell), in connection with a one-time nine-month consulting contract in 2017 worth $22,500,” the company revealed on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the AT&T filing.

Illinois Bell Telephone Company LLC is run by Madigan’s former aide, Eileen Mitchell, the ex-president’s former policy director. The company filing did not indicate Mitchell’s role, if any, in the contract in question.

Details were also not specified identifying the person or company with whom Illinois Bell contracted.

Madigan, who has not been charged and denies wrongdoing, has been in the federal government’s crosshairs since July 2020, when Commonwealth Edison and Lausch’s office reached a three-year deal deferred prosecution agreement in which the public service agreed to pay $200 million to quash a corruption charge related to its efforts to influence the ex-president.

In November 2020, a federal grand jury charged four former ComEd executives and lobbyists charged with corruption linked to a long-running corporate bribery scheme in which consultancy contracts requiring little or no work were allegedly awarded to Madigan associates as part of an effort to advance ComEd’s legislative agenda in Springfield.

Among the defendants were former power company chief executive Anne Pramaggiore and Michael McClain – a ComEd lobbyist from Quincy, Illinois, who was a close confidant of Madigan. Longtime ComEd executive John Hooker and lobbyist Jay Doherty, best known in Illinois political circles for running the City Club of Chicago, a prominent civic affairs organization, were also charged.

All four are awaiting trial.

Another former ComEd lobbyist, Fidel Marquez, has pleaded guilty to charges related to the scheme and is cooperating with federal investigators.

In AT&T’s filing, the company said it had “cooperated” with Lausch’s office and did not believe it had done anything wrong.

“Since 2019, Illinois Bell has been cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding their widely publicized investigation of certain Illinois elected politicians and related parties for corruption,” the company said.

“Based on our own thorough investigation of the facts and our engagement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we have concluded that the contract in question was legal in all respects and that any charges against Illinois Bell or its personnel would be without merit.” , said AT&T. in his file.

AT&T was known to be the focus of federal investigators when the federal investigation surrounding Madigan and ComEd came to light.

On the same day ComEd and Lausch’s office accepted the Deferred Prosecution Agreement, Madigan State’s office received a sweeping federal ruling. summons searching for documents regarding AT&T, Walgreens, Rush University Medical Center, and a host of operatives and lobbyists inside Madigan’s political orbit.

This subpoena covered “all contracts, agreements, letters of engagement and correspondence relating to the retention, hiring or engagement of any person to provide services, including lobbying, consulting or others to AT&T of Illinois from any of its parent companies, subsidiaries or affiliated business entities.

AT&T did not respond to questions from WBEZ when the company’s name appeared in the subpoena to Madigan’s office.

And on Thursday, the company did not respond directly to more questions about the contract itself, who it involved, Mitchell’s status or whether AT&T had received its own subpoena or subpoenas from federal investigators.

But the company reiterated its innocence on Thursday.

“We have thoroughly investigated this matter and have concluded that the contract in question is legal and that any charges against Illinois Bell or its employees would be without merit,” company spokesman Jim Kimberly said.

In the SEC filing, AT&T acknowledged it had no way of knowing how its ongoing interactions with Lausch’s office would play out, but it did address the potential impact of a possible charge or charges. criminals.

“We cannot predict the outcome of the government’s investigation, which could…result in criminal penalties, fines or other corrective action…harm to our reputation with customers, regulators and other stakeholders, and …impact our existing federal and state government contracts and our ability to win new contracts in the future.

Dave McKinney covers Illinois politics and government for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter @davemckinney.


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