According to a press release from the Department of Justice, AT&T has agreed to pay a $23 million fine “to resolve a federal criminal investigation into the company’s alleged misconduct regarding the company’s efforts to unlawfully influence the former Illinois Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan.”
According to the announcement, “AT&T Illinois’ investigation is being resolved with a deferred prosecution agreement under which the company admitted it arranged payments to be made to a Madigan ally in order to influence and reward Madigan’s efforts to assist AT&T Illinois with respect to legislation sought by the company.”
AT&T “admited that in 2017 it arranged for a Madigan ally to collect indirect contributions totaling $22,500 from the company.”
According to the Justice Department, AT&T “made no attempt to ensure any work was accomplished” in exchange for the money, and it also admitted that the payment was made “in exchange for Madigan’s vote and influence over a measure.” The bill repealed AT&T’s duty to offer landline phone service to every resident of the state.
Allegedly, in order to make the contribution and conceal its true intent, AT&T utilised a lobbying business as an intermediary.
The office of US Attorney John Lausch filed a one-count criminal information accusing AT&T Illinois of utilising an interstate facility to encourage legislative misbehaviour in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The same inquiry led to the five-count indictment of former AT&T Illinois President Paul La Schiazza.
“La Schiazza plotted in 2017 to corruptly arrange for $22,500 to be given to a Madigan ally with the help of the former Speaker Michael J. Madigan, Michael McClain, and others. Despite the fact that the conspirators created a fictitious task for Madigan’s ally to carry out for AT&T Illinois and had no part in moving the legislation through, the ally did not really execute any work for AT&T Illinois “claimed the Justice Department.
Racketeering and bribery accusations were previously brought against Madigan and McClain. A new superseding indictment includes a conspiracy accusation including AT&T. Between 1983 and 2021, Madigan, a Democrat, presided as speaker of the House for all but two of those years.
According to the Justice Department’s statement in March, the original “22-count indictment accuses Madigan of leading for nearly a decade a criminal enterprise whose purpose was to enhance Madigan’s political power and financial well-being while also generating income for his political allies and associates.”
Bill to remove landline obligations was pushed by AT&T.
The deferred prosecution agreement states that AT&T’s contribution was intended to sway a 2017 vote on Carrier of Last Resort (COLR) legislation that “terminated AT&T Illinois’ expensive responsibility to offer landline telephone services to all Illinois residents.”
The governor vetoed the bill after the legislature passed it, but both houses of the legislature voted to override the veto.
The $23 million fine is due from AT&T to the Crime Victims Fund in 30 days. “We uphold the highest moral standards for both our employees and our contractors. We are devoted to making sure that this never occurs again, “In a message to media outlets, AT&T added.