Four Members of Madigan’s Inner Circle Indicted For ComEd Bribery & Patronage Case

By Benjamin Cox on November 19, 2020 at 10:39am

Madigan Speaking to Reporters in 2017.[Credit Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois]

Four members of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s inner circle were indicted in federal court last night on several charges tied to Commonweath Edison’s deferred prosecution agreement over a decade long bribery and patronage hiring scheme. The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and Tamera Cantu, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amarjeet S. Bhachu, Diane MacArthur, Timothy J. Chapman, Sarah E. Streicker, Matthew L. Kutcher, and Michelle Kramer. It was returned late yesterday evening in the U.S. District Court in Chicago.

73 year old Michael McLain of Quincy who worked as a lobbyist and/or consultant for ComEd after serving in the Illinois House of Representatives in the 1970s and early 1980s and is one of Madigan’s closest and oldest confidants; 62 year old Anne Pramaggiore of Barrington was CEO of ComEd from 2012 to 2018, and later served as a senior executive at an affiliate of Exelon Corp., of which ComEd was a subsidiary; 71 year old John Hooker of Chicago served as ComEd’s executive vice president of legislative and external affairs from 2009 to 2012, after which he worked as an external lobbyist for ComEd; and 67 year old Jay Doherty of Chicago owned Jay D. Doherty & Associates law firm, which performed consulting services for ComEd from approximately 2011 to 2019 and is the former president of the City Club of Chicago were all charged with bribery conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd books and records. Capitol Fax has shared the full indictment here.

According to the filed charges, the defendants’ efforts to influence and reward the high-level elected official – identified in the indictment as “Public Official A” – began in or around 2011 and continued through in or around 2019. During that time, Public Official A controlled what measures were called for a vote in the Illinois House of Representatives and exerted substantial influence over fellow lawmakers concerning legislation affecting ComEd, the indictment states. The charges allege that the defendants conspired to corruptly influence and reward Public Official A by arranging for jobs and contracts for Public Official A’s political allies and workers, even in instances where those people performed little or no work that ComEd purportedly hired them to perform. The defendants allegedly created and caused the creation of false contracts, invoices, and other books and records to disguise the true nature of some of the payments and to circumvent internal controls at ComEd. Some of the payments and contracts were revealed during the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against former Madigan associate Kevin Quinn.

According to a press release from Lausch’s office, the indictment also alleges that the defendants undertook other efforts to influence and reward Public Official A, including causing ComEd to retain a particular outside law firm favored by Public Official A and to accept into ComEd’s internship program a certain amount of students who resided in the Chicago ward associated with Public Official A. Pramaggiore and McClain also allegedly took steps to have an individual appointed to ComEd’s Board of Directors at the request of Public Official A and McClain, the indictment states.

McClain’s lawyer, Pat Cotter, reacted calling the charges filed “are the result of a misguided investigation and misapplication of the law, driven by an obvious desire to find some way to criminally implicate a current elected official, who happens to be Mike McClain’s longtime friend.” Cotter never directly named Madigan’s name outright in the statement.

Illinois Republican House Leader Jim Durkin doubled down on the calls for the Illinois Democratic Party to oust Madigan: “Today’s news makes it abundantly clear that the Democratic Party of Illinois, chaired and controlled by Speaker Madigan also known as Public Official A, is a corrupt organization that has run its course. For the past many months and years, Madigan’s apologists from the Governor to the rank-and-file House Democrats have turned a blind eye to his corrupt practices. Speaker Madigan and his long list of defenders need to be removed from power, and that starts with Chairman [Emmanuel “Chris”] Welch reconvening the Special Investigating Committee immediately.”

In a press release today, Madigan again professed his innocence in the investigation: “

If there was credible evidence that I had engaged in criminal misconduct, which I most certainly did not, I would be charged with a crime. But I have not, and with good reason because there is nothing wrong or illegal about making job recommendations, regardless of what people inside ComEd may have hoped to achieve from hiring some of the people who were recommended. Nonetheless, even though I am not alleged to have done anything in my official capacity as Speaker of the House to assist ComEd and have not been accused of any wrongdoing, this investigation has been used as a political weapon by those who seek to have me step down. I anticipate some will be disappointed that I was not a party to this indictment and find it difficult to swallow the fact that I have not been accused of or charged with any wrongdoing. These same individuals will likely claim this indictment should end my tenure as a public official, even though it alleges no criminal conduct on my part, nor does it allege I had knowledge of any criminal conduct by others.”

More Illinois House Democrats also spoke out today saying they would not support another term as House Speaker for Madigan. Press releases by 57th District Representative Jonathan Carroll, 62nd District Representative Sam Yingling, and 39th District Representative Will Guzzardi all said Illinois was at a crossroads for a different direction for new leadership to step in. In total, 15 House Democrats have said in some way that they would support someone else when a new House Speaker was voted on in January. Madigan needs 60 votes of the House membership to retain the chair. With the new calls for him to step aside today, the count is at 58 should the votes hold. Madigan is the longest serving Speaker of the House for a state legislature in the country having served in the chair for all but 2 years since 1983.

The indictments have been assigned to U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who is also assigned to the trial against R&B Singer R. Kelly. No official dates in the ComEd indictments have been set.