A former member of ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s leadership team has pleaded not guilty to federal tax evasion charges stemming at least in part from secret payments for “government relations” work from Commonwealth Edison.
Former State Rep.-turned-lobbyist Eddie Acevedo, D-Chicago, entered the plea virtually in front of Judge Matthew Kennelly on Friday. Earlier this week, Acevedo’s two sons, who were a part of the same lobbying firm, also pleaded not guilty to lying on their taxes.
A source familiar with the federal probe told WBEZ that the six-count indictment against the former state lawmaker relates, in part, to unreported income originating from Commonwealth Edison that Acevedo received from a company called Apex Strategy. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about an ongoing criminal investigation.
Acevedo served in the Illinois House from 1997 through 2017 and for 14 years had unique access to Madigan as an assistant majority leader.
At Friday’s arraignment, the U.S. Attorney’s office asked that Acevedo be forbidden from drinking alcohol while released on bond, and federal prosecutors said they would provide context for the request under seal. Acevedo’s public defender objected to the suggestion.
Acevedo’s alcohol consumption was the subject of a 2017 email ComEd produced last fall to a special House committee investigating possible misconduct by Madigan related to the bribery scandal. Michael McClain, a ComEd lobbyist and close advisor of Madigan’s, wrote a list of complaints about the Acevedos to ComEd, including that Eddie needed to “watch the booze.”
Madigan faces no criminal charges and denies any wrongdoing related to ComEd’s admission that it engaged in a years-long effort to bribe him by hiring and contracting with Madigan associates for doing little to no work. In light of the scandal, many of his own Democrats refused to reelect Madigan as House Speaker, prompting him to resign altogether from the House of Representatives and as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.
After he left the legislature, Eddie Acevedo joined his sons’ Springfield lobbying company, Apex Strategy. However, ComEd didn’t reveal to the state, as required, that it had a lobbying relationship with Apex between 2017 and 2019. Likewise, Apex never disclosed it had a lobbying gig with the utility company.
And Acevedo did not disclose that familial conflict of interest when he co-sponsored and voted for the ComEd-backed Future Energy Jobs Act in December 2016, which has been singled out as one key legislative measure that passed in Springfield while ComEd was bribing associates of Madigan’s between 2011 and 2019.
Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.