Public Official A has not been charged with a crime, and if that ever were to happen, he would be entitled to a presumption of innocence. He would have his day in court.

The court of public opinion is a different story. The judges and juries of the people’s tribunal render verdicts in split seconds. They require little evidence or deliberation.

Then there are the corridors of power — Public Official A’s home base. The accumulation and exercise of power has defined him for decades. And the fact that his power is at risk could be as terrifying to him as anything else.

Let the record show that Public Official A is the speaker of the Illinois House, Michael J. Madigan. U.S. Attorney John Lausch identified him by occupation in the charging documents involving Commonwealth Edison last month.


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.