Rich Miller

Rich Miller

Bribery or lobbying? ComEd 4 jurors will decide

Spread the love

,

By Rich Miller

ComEd has long been a source of political patronage. The company’s Deferred Prosecution Agreement with federal prosecutors even references how former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s “old-fashioned patronage system” obtained ComEd meter reader jobs for its precinct workers.

Madigan’s wasn’t the only patronage network to do this. It was a widespread practice and, as old-timers tell it, became even more important when Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor, cut some prominent white politicians out of the city’s patronage spoils.

Madigan came up through a city ward system that was fed by patronage. But his people would always say that because he started his career as an employee of the Illinois Commerce Commission, he didn’t much care for utility companies. So, when ComEd did things like fire a bunch of his Statehouse lobbyist allies during a 2007 battle with Senate President Emil Jones and Gov. Rod Blagojevich, he liked them even less.

RichMiller 1

Rich Miller

After Blagojevich and Jones departed the scene, Madigan was left as the unrivaled Statehouse king. ComEd bent over backward to get into his good graces and Madigan seemed, at least from a distance, to enjoy the groveling. It helped that Madigan’s own members complained at the time that the company’s services had deteriorated and that ComEd wasn’t respecting them when they complained. Madigan couldn’t have squeezed the company if his members loved ComEd.

The company eventually got much of what it wanted, but it always had to jump through Madigan’s many hoops, even more so than other interests did. Eventually, those hoops included things like funding no-show contracts for Madigan cronies through various folks in Madigan’s circle.

ComEd wasn’t alone, of course. Madigan’s crew put the arm on plenty of special interests. He would often bring hand-written lists of people he wanted taken care of to his meetings with governors. He was running a small army, and his soldiers required sustenance.

ComEd stood out partly because it often needed things, and because of its patronage history and because it had so many jobs and so much money for contracts. It was the old Willie Sutton story. When the notorious criminal was asked why he robbed banks, he reportedly said, “Because that’s where the money is.”

Madigan’s top lieutenant, Mike McClain, made sure ComEd’s key executives never forgot that Madigan could turn on them at any moment and the company would go right back into the penalty box. They complied mainly because they didn’t want any trouble, and when that compliance led to legislative successes, that, in turn, helped their own careers.

It was likely no accident that, after working closely with Madigan and McClain, ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore was being paid $2.7 million a year, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Pramaggiore is now on trial in the “ComEd 4” bribery case, along with McClain and lobbyists Jay Doherty and John Hooker, a former ComEd official.

The federal government claims that their behavior crossed numerous legal boundaries. The defendants claim, in part, that this was simply the way things were always done.

But times changed, and Madigan’s demands became ever-more voracious while the feds were listening in. It was almost like making a U-Turn in front of a police squad car. They’re gonna get you for that.

If McClain had any doubt that the feds were looking at both him and Madigan, it should’ve been confirmed when he decided to cooperate with their investigation into a fraudulent scheme involving a federal immigration program that granted visas to millionaire foreign investors. The feds asked him at the time, for instance, why he used code words when speaking or writing emails about Madigan.

“McClain admitted that he ‘referred to Madigan as our friend in e-mails and in public conversations because people might be listening to or reading McClain’s conversations,’” the government claimed in a court filing last month.

The defendants also claim that the federal government essentially shoe-horned whatever they found into a vast criminal conspiracy case. They saw what they wanted to see, McClain’s defense attorney Patrick Cotter told jurors.

But the prosecution claims that Madigan could kill any bill he wanted to kill. So, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Streicker told jurors last week, according to the Chicago Tribune, “The defendants bribed him, and they did so by paying Madigan’s associates through jobs and contracts at ComEd.”

And he did indeed get a whole lot of those.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.

Local News

A statue from a monument lies on the ground at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

EF1 tornado barrels through Justice and Bridgeview

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan An EF1 tornado, packing winds of 90 miles per hour, swept through Justice and Bridgeview Monday night. Village of Justice Public Works Director Joe Cekus said he knew trouble was on the way. “I was looking in the sky for rotation and I heard a train,” he said. “I quickly…

Two pickup trucks in the 7400 block of Roberts Road in Bridgeview were destroyed by fire. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Bridgeview family loses two pickup trucks, but house is saved

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch A Bridgeview family in the 7400 block of Roberts Road knows first-hand the damage weather can do. When high winds hit around 9:30 p.m. Monday as a tornado blew through Justice, a cemetery and then into Bridgeview, two power lines were brought down near their bi-level house. One line fell…

Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois at Orland Square Mall on Friday. (Photo by Allie Baar)

Rihanna to open Savage X Fenty store in Orland Park on Friday

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Barbados superstar Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois on Friday morning in Orland Square Mall in Orland Park. The singer, actor and businesswoman will open the store at the mall’s lower level near the Coach store at 10 a.m. Savage X Fenty will host a…

The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on July 13. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park encourages residents to unplug

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on Saturday, July 13. The day is a state-wide effort, started in 2014, to encourage everyone to “plug into” the amazing recreational opportunities offered by local park and recreation agencies. The…

Portillo's Hot Dogs (PRNewsFoto/Portillo's Hot Dogs)

Comings & Goings: Portillo’s coming to Orland Park

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva After the Orland Park Village Board voted Monday night to allow for a special use program, it set the wheels in motion for a Portillo’s Hot Dogs drive through to be built at 20 Orland Square Drive, the site of the shuttered Denny’s. It will be a 3,305-foot square building…

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said that pre-concert problems caused by the weather on July 13 are fixable.
(Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Mayor says Centennial Park West concert snafus ‘easily solvable’

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva The weather gods hit Orland Park’s Pat Benatar concert with their worst shot. A major storm took place July 13 when the event at the refurbished Centennial Park West was scheduled to open the gates. That caused a delay in opening the gates for 40 minutes which resulted in massive…

reporter worth welcome sign

Worth approves $590,000 for street repairs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle A variety of projects ranging from street repairs and a new pump station for the golf course have been approved for the Village of Worth. A bid was awarded to Lindahl Brothers during the Worth Village Board meeting Tuesday night. Lindahl was the lowest bidder among four entries at $590,384.90 for future…

CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound July 17, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the love

Alumni Association members Heather Leininger, Emily Szymczak, Candice Mares and Miriam Cruz (at table) lead a crowd of LeaderShop alumni and community members waving posters saying Morals Matter, Demand Change, and Integrity for the Kids. (Photos by S. Kirchman)

LeaderShop alumni, board meeting turns testy at times

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy S. Kirchman The LeaderShop Alumni Association rallied under the pavilion at The LeaderShop office in La Grange for the board’s scheduled 6 p.m. meeting after it was switched from in-person to virtual earlier on Thursday. The Alumni Association consists of volunteers, previous staff members, former members of the board of directors, funders,…

Cleveland Cavaliers guard-forward Max Strus hits a 3-pointer last season over the Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown. Photo courtesy of Max Strus

Hometown Hoops Hero: Stagg alum Max Strus discusses his rise through the NBA, hitting big shots and his annual youth hoops camp

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent A lot of changes have taken place for Max Strus during the past year. While the Cleveland Cavaliers guard has played in an NBA Finals and been featured as No. 1 on ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top Plays,” among other noteworthy events, the Stagg alum is the same homegrown kid who…

Neighbors

A statue from a monument lies on the ground at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

EF1 tornado barrels through Justice and Bridgeview

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan An EF1 tornado, packing winds of 90 miles per hour, swept through Justice and Bridgeview Monday night. Village of Justice Public Works Director Joe Cekus said he knew trouble was on the way. “I was looking in the sky for rotation and I heard a train,” he said. “I quickly…

Two pickup trucks in the 7400 block of Roberts Road in Bridgeview were destroyed by fire. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Bridgeview family loses two pickup trucks, but house is saved

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch A Bridgeview family in the 7400 block of Roberts Road knows first-hand the damage weather can do. When high winds hit around 9:30 p.m. Monday as a tornado blew through Justice, a cemetery and then into Bridgeview, two power lines were brought down near their bi-level house. One line fell…

Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois at Orland Square Mall on Friday. (Photo by Allie Baar)

Rihanna to open Savage X Fenty store in Orland Park on Friday

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Barbados superstar Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois on Friday morning in Orland Square Mall in Orland Park. The singer, actor and businesswoman will open the store at the mall’s lower level near the Coach store at 10 a.m. Savage X Fenty will host a…

The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on July 13. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park encourages residents to unplug

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on Saturday, July 13. The day is a state-wide effort, started in 2014, to encourage everyone to “plug into” the amazing recreational opportunities offered by local park and recreation agencies. The…

Portillo's Hot Dogs (PRNewsFoto/Portillo's Hot Dogs)

Comings & Goings: Portillo’s coming to Orland Park

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva After the Orland Park Village Board voted Monday night to allow for a special use program, it set the wheels in motion for a Portillo’s Hot Dogs drive through to be built at 20 Orland Square Drive, the site of the shuttered Denny’s. It will be a 3,305-foot square building…

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said that pre-concert problems caused by the weather on July 13 are fixable.
(Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Mayor says Centennial Park West concert snafus ‘easily solvable’

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva The weather gods hit Orland Park’s Pat Benatar concert with their worst shot. A major storm took place July 13 when the event at the refurbished Centennial Park West was scheduled to open the gates. That caused a delay in opening the gates for 40 minutes which resulted in massive…

reporter worth welcome sign

Worth approves $590,000 for street repairs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle A variety of projects ranging from street repairs and a new pump station for the golf course have been approved for the Village of Worth. A bid was awarded to Lindahl Brothers during the Worth Village Board meeting Tuesday night. Lindahl was the lowest bidder among four entries at $590,384.90 for future…

CRR_NH

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound July 17, 2024

Spread the love

Spread the love

Alumni Association members Heather Leininger, Emily Szymczak, Candice Mares and Miriam Cruz (at table) lead a crowd of LeaderShop alumni and community members waving posters saying Morals Matter, Demand Change, and Integrity for the Kids. (Photos by S. Kirchman)

LeaderShop alumni, board meeting turns testy at times

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy S. Kirchman The LeaderShop Alumni Association rallied under the pavilion at The LeaderShop office in La Grange for the board’s scheduled 6 p.m. meeting after it was switched from in-person to virtual earlier on Thursday. The Alumni Association consists of volunteers, previous staff members, former members of the board of directors, funders,…

Cleveland Cavaliers guard-forward Max Strus hits a 3-pointer last season over the Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown. Photo courtesy of Max Strus

Hometown Hoops Hero: Stagg alum Max Strus discusses his rise through the NBA, hitting big shots and his annual youth hoops camp

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent A lot of changes have taken place for Max Strus during the past year. While the Cleveland Cavaliers guard has played in an NBA Finals and been featured as No. 1 on ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top Plays,” among other noteworthy events, the Stagg alum is the same homegrown kid who…