In the week since U.S. Attorney John Lausch charged Commonwealth Edison with bribery, most of the attention has focused on Public Official A — Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.

As the charging documents lay out, ComEd admitted proffering payments and positions in hopes of winning legislative support from Speaker Madigan, who has not been charged with a crime.

The documents show systemic corruption inside ComEd that ranged from the prosaic to the profound. ComEd hired interns put forward by Madigan’s 13th Ward organization; gave questionable contracts to Madigan patronage workers and hired lobbyists in Madigan’s orbit; guaranteed 850 hours of billing for a law firm favored by the speaker; and even placed a Madigan designee onto ComEd’s board of directors, according to information in the ComEd charging document.

The government-for-sale system needs to come to an end. But let’s reserve some outrage — and demand for reform — for the complicity and corrupt behavior of the state’s largest utility.


David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.