Q&A: What charges might longest serving US speaker face?

FILE - In this May 23, 2020 file photo, Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, talks on his cellphone from his desk during an extended session of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Bank of Springfield Center, in Springfield, Ill. ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the U.S. Attorney's office announced Friday July 17, 2020. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool, File)
FILE - In this May 23, 2020 file photo, Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, talks on his cellphone from his desk during an extended session of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Bank of Springfield Center, in Springfield, Ill. ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the U.S. Attorney's office announced Friday July 17, 2020. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool, File) (2020 The State Journal-Register)

CHICAGO – Federal prosecutors recently answered the question about whether Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the nation’s longest serving statehouse speaker, is a subject of a criminal investigation into influence peddling to benefit an energy utility. He is.

The looming question now is whether the Chicago Democrat will actually be charged — and if the 78-year-old is charged, when and with what possible crimes.

Here’s a look at those and other questions:

Q: HOW DO WE KNOW MADIGAN IS A TARGET?

A: Multiple clues over the past 12 months raised the possibility that he was a federal investigative target, including charges against political allies. But a bombshell filing by the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago last Friday erased all doubts.

The deferred prosecution agreement revealed that ComEd agreed to pay $200 million to resolve an investigation of a nearly decadelong bribery scheme in which the electric utility secured jobs and contracts for associates of a top-level official in return for favorable legislation action.

The document didn't name Madigan, but it may as well have. It referred to a “Public Official A” as the one ComEd sought to “influence and reward.” The official, the filing went on to say, was “the Speaker of the House of Representatives.” That could only be Madigan, who has been House speaker since 1983 — except for two years in the 1990s when Republicans controlled the House.

Q: DOES THAT SUGGEST CHARGES ARE IMMINENT?