SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Jurors see Madigan ally’s ‘magic list’ that FBI agents seized on day of 2019 raids

By HANNAH MEISEL
Capitol News Illinois
hmeisel@capitolnewsillinois.com

CHICAGO – It was sunny and approaching 75 degrees when FBI agents arrived at the Quincy home of Mike McClain on a Tuesday in May 2019.

McClain, a close friend of longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, had a habit of printing out emails and keeping hand-written notes. That made the agents’ job a bit easier as they searched McClain’s first-floor home office, another office area in the basement featuring a wall of filing cabinets and his Toyota Avalon in the garage.

From his car, the agents seized McClain’s iPhone, a MacBook Pro and two tote bags filled with yet more printed emails and notes.

Nearly four years later in a federal courtroom, McClain saw those items again on Tuesday as one of the FBI agents involved in the raid held them up for the jury to see.

McClain, along with two other ex-lobbyists of electric utility Commonwealth Edison and its former CEO, are on trial for allegedly orchestrating a yearslong scheme to bribe the powerful House speaker in exchange for legislative wins in Springfield. The defendants say ComEd awarded jobs and contracts like the ones given to Madigan allies as a favor to many powerful politicians, and the utility spent millions on legitimate lobbying to pass its legislative priorities.

The documents shown to the jury included several iterations of the same list of names, handwritten in McClain’s all-caps scrawl on stationary from the Talbott Hotel in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. Some of the versions included a sort of rating system, with plus signs next to a few of the names.

McClain didn’t leave the feds guessing about what the lists were, because in that same black tote bag bearing “MMF” – a monogram for Michael F. McClain – was a printout of an email he’d sent in December 2018, with the subject line “Magic Lobbying List.”

“A Friend of ours and myself have gone through the ‘magic list’ and frankly culled quite a few names from the list,” McClain wrote to the bcc’d recipients of the email, employing his common euphemism of “our friend” when referring to Madigan.

One of the versions of the list also bore the speaker’s distinctive cursive script, adding names and phone numbers to the collection – and crossing one of his additions out.

McClain’s email continued with a request of those on the “magic list” – prominent statehouse lobbyists, including some who’d spent years working in Madigan’s office and others who’d served in the General Assembly.

“So, I would ask what has been asked in the past,” McClain’s email continued. “If you have a potential client come up to you and seek you as a lobbyist but you cannot for whatever reason (accept the work), please…try to get him or her to consider a recommendation from you.”

That recommendation, McClain implied, would really be coming from McClain and Madigan.

Tuesday wasn’t the first day the jury heard mention of the so-called magic list; it was mentioned in three wiretapped phone calls played earlier in the trial, and one of the lobbyists on the list testified to its existence last month.

“As best as I know, it was a list of individuals who had been helpful to the speaker and speaker’s office over time,” Will Cousineau, Madigan’s longtime political director said during his testimony, adding that McClain would use the list to dole out work on certain projects.

McClain’s attorney, Patrick Cotter, sought to downplay the mythic language of the “magic list” when Cousineau was on the stand.

“Mike tends to talk a little bit like that sometimes, doesn’t he?” he asked. “Was it weird to you in politics that people would keep track of who helped them?”

Cousineau, who has spent more than two decades in Illinois politics and government, confirmed that it was not.

“So the magic list is just normal politics with a name Mike put on it,” Cotter offered.

A little over five months after McClain’s email, FBI agents raided his home and those of two others on the magic list: Shaw Decremer and former Chicago Alderman Mike Zalewski. Neither has been charged with wrongdoing.

Zalewski was one of several Madigan allies that prosecutors allege did little to no work in exchange for monthly stipends as contract lobbyists for ComEd under Jay Doherty, a codefendant in the case. Other subcontractors – including Ed Moody and former state Rep. Eddie Acevedo – were moved to and from Doherty’s contract over a period of nine years. Moody and Acevedo had, for a time, been paid through Decremer’s lobbying contract with ComEd.

On the afternoon of May 14, 2019, agents also raided Doherty’s office, along with homes associated with Moody and another subcontractor, Ray Nice – two top precinct captains for Madigan’s 13th Ward Democratic Organization. Neither has been charged with wrongdoing.

Agents associated with those searches testified Tuesday that they could find no evidence in the papers and electronics collected that Moody, Nice, Zalewski or former 13th Ward Alderman Frank Olivo had done any lobbying work for ComEd during the years they collectively were paid $1.3 million from direct contract lobbyists for the utility.

The trial continues at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide, as well as hundreds of radio and TV stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Leave a Comment





Local News

Mary Stanek

Looks like March may go out like a lion

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place •  (773) 517-7796. . March comes in like a lamb – it goes out like a lion! A sneak peek at the weather forecast for the next 10 days does show some mild days. So, we welcome…

Kathy Headley

Weather cooperated for Marine’s return

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 . After the surprising snow coming down like a blizzard for a while last Friday night, I was especially glad to see the sun Saturday morning, for Patrick Downs (St. Rita High School class of…

Peggy Zabicki

Slam the brakes on reckless drivers

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 . The most popular topic of conversation in our neighborhood lately is the problem of speeding drivers. There are car accidents every single day due to drivers who break the law. I hope the city will add even more…

Hon. Koula Fornier

Fournier resigns from TTO to become judge

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports The Lyons Township Trustees of Schools is accepting applications for a vacancy on their board, after Trustee Koula A. Fournier resigned earlier this month after being sworn-in as a Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court. Fournier was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill the Maloney vacancy of…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Boys Hoops Wrap | Curie, Rice and Marist among area regional champs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent The original March Madness got underway last week across Illinois, and several area teams were crowned regional champions. Teams still alive in Class 4A are Marist and Curie, and in Class 3A are Brother Rice, De La Salle, Evergreen Park and Mount Carmel.   CLASS 4A Marist (29-4) cruised…

Evergreen Park senior Tre Dowdell crosses over a Hillcrest defender during the Class 3A Evergreen Park Regional championship game on Feb. 23. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Boys Basketball Class 3A Playoffs | Evergreen Park tops Hillcrest for first regional title since 1974

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent Some Evergreen Park players have deep roots in the community, but it was a newcomer that carried the Mustangs to a monumental win. Senior guard Tre Dowdell put up a game-high 30 points and Mustangs rolled to a 74-60 win over Hillcrest in the Class 3A Evergreen Park Regional…

SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview could be the site for Northwestern football games in 2024. Photo by Jeff Vorva

College Football | Northwestern football may play at SeatGeek

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent It appears that Chicago’s Big Ten team will be Bridgeview’s Big Ten team for at least one day. Maybe more. Northwestern has released its 2024 football schedule, but where the Wildcats will play their seven home games is unknown. Their home stadium, Ryan Field in Evanston, is undergoing a…

Nazareth senior Amalia Dray fight through a Kenwood defender during the Roadrunners’ 50-37 win in the Class 4A Mother McAuley Sectional title game. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Girls Basketball | Nazareth tops Homewood-Flossmoor, heads to Illinois Final Four for fifth time in past six seasons

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent Nazareth head coach Ed Stritzel has built his Roadrunners into a powerhouse program with a defense-first philosophy that is carrying the reigning Class 3A state champions through another deep postseason run. Four nights after Nazareth held Kenwood to a season-low 37 points in the Class 4A Mother McAuley Sectional…

Mount Carmel's wrestling team celebrates a Class 3A championship. Photo courtesy of Mount Carmel High School

Postseason Roundup | Mount Carmel wrestling wins fifth state title

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent During the regular season, only one wrestling team from Illinois beat Mount Carmel in a dual meet. Joliet Catholic got the better of the Caravan with a 38-27 victory on Jan. 18. That came two days after Mount Carmel lost to Crown Point (Indiana). The Caravan will be unable…

St. Laurence's Kathleen Martin gets off a shot against Hinsdale South in the Class 3A St. Ignatius Sectional on Feb. 22 in Chicago. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup | St. Laurence girls hoops has benchmark season

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The St. Laurence girls basketball team’s historic season came to a close with a 42-29 loss to Hinsdale South at the Class 3A St. Ignatius Sectional on Feb. 22, but the Vikings hit some milestone’s in former Marist and Saint Xavier star Claire Austin’s first year as coach. The…

Neighbors

Chicago Fire II player Chinoso Offor (left) and Rochester’s Lamar Batista make nice in front of an official after they were jostling and shoving for a few minutes during the teams’ 0-0 tie on Sunday in Bridgeview. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro Soccer Report: Fire II gets a point, but still no goals after three games

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The new Chicago Fire II team is winless and scoreless through three games, but coach Ludovic Taillandier knows wins and losses are not the team’s main focus. The Fire II, which tied Rochester 0-0 April 10 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, is a mix of youth and Chicago…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Marist sees better days ahead after rough start to season

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Millar  Correspondent It’s been a tough start for Marist against a loaded schedule. But after the RedHawks fought back again and again in a 3-2 loss to 2021 Class 2A state runner-up Joliet Catholic on April 6 night at Joliet Memorial Stadium, there were plenty of reasons to think things are…

Lizzie Sedekis (white helmet) is congratulated by her Chicago Christian teammates after a home run against Timothy Christian on April 6 in Palos Heights. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: Chicago Christian softball team looking to get their groove back

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Kevin Pittman said he’ll take some of the blame. The Chicago Christian softball and boys basketball coach has an annual tradition. After the rigors of the basketball season, he uses spring break to recharge. “When they asked me to take the softball job, I said I would do…

Rats can and do squeeze through holes as small as a quarter. -- Photo source: cdc.gov

Worth residents complain about rat infestation 

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle  A group of Worth residents stated Tuesday night that a surge in the rodent population has them frustrated and disgusted and would like village officials to address the problem. During the public forum segment of the Worth Village Board meeting, residents asked if the village could do more to eliminate…

The Oak Lawn Park District hosted an Adult Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 2, at Stony Creek Golf Course, 5850 W. 103rd Street, Oak Lawn.  (Supplied photos)

Oak Lawn’s Adult East Egg Hunt

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White  Easter’s not just for kids anymore. Thanks to the Oak Lawn Park District, it’s also for adults. The park district hosted an Adult Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 2, at Stony Creek Golf Course, 5850 W. 103rd Street, Oak Lawn. “This was a fun way for adults to celebrate the…

The Chicago Ridge Public Library is proudly hosting a Ramadan Giving Project through May 3 at the library. Pictured (from left) Chicago Ridge Public Library Director, Dana Wishnick; Youth Services Manager, Irene Ciciora; and staff members, Nancy Dartalib, Salimah Boufath, and Samantha Zimmerman.  (Supplied photos)

Chicago Ridge Library celebrates Ramadan with food drive 

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White  Located in a culturally diverse community, the Chicago Ridge Public Library is proud to serve its patrons of all ethnicities and backgrounds. To support the library values of “all are recognized,” the youth services department has created a large library-wide program that reflects the local community’s diversity. For the first…

The shuttered Carson's store at Evergreen Plaza will be reopening as two new Macy's stores. (File photo)

Former Evergreen Park Carson’s may reopen as new store 

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle  The shuttered Carson’s store located in the Evergreen Plaza shopping area has been designated as “severely blighted” and eligible for Class 8 designation. A new retail store operation in the U.S., with the assistance of the property owner, said they are willing to invest more than $10 million in new…

Brother Rice High School students help  carry boxes of supplies outside St. Bernadette Parish in Evergreen Park that will eventually be sent overseas to Poland to assist the residents of Ukraine, many of whom are homeless due to invasion of their country by Russia. (Photos by Joe Boyle)

Parishioners, volunteers collect supplies for Ukrainian refugees 

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle  The Rev. Benedykt Pazdan did not hesitate to act after Russia invaded Ukraine. “Yes, I thought about it right away,” said Pazdan, who is the pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Evergreen Park. “We had to open up our hearts and minds. This is wonderful. The people who are here…

Hair Performers, located at 9510 S. Roberts Road, Hickory Hills, hosted a cut-a-thon on April 3 for David Steadman, who is in need of a liver transplant.  (Photos by Kelly White)

Haircuts for a Cause

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White  Known as being a kind, caring and compassionate man, David Steadman has always dedicated his life towards helping others. Steadman, 61, who grew up the oldest of four children, took his role very seriously, according to his sister, Laurie Asztalos. “I cannot say enough good things about David,” Asztalos, of…

OLCHS students, Jocelyn DelValle, 14, of Oak Lawn; Juan Caudillo, 14, of Oak Lawn; Anthony Rodriguez, 15, of Hometown; and Seweryn Firek, 15, of Oak Lawn, picking their brackets for this year's March Mammal Madness.  (Supplied photos)

Mammal madness sets in at OLCHS 

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White  March Madness is taking over Oak Lawn Community High School, but not in the form of basketball. For the fourth year in a row, the school, 9400 Southwest Highway, Oak Lawn, participated in March Mammal Madness. “I love participating in March Mammal Madness because I am able to research and…