The four latest individuals tied to a nine-year ComEd-Michael Madigan bribery scheme made their first appearance in federal court on Wednesday. Following the video-conference arraignment, State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) joined other House Republicans in reiterating that Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan must testify under oath before the Special Investigating Committee (SIC) or resign his position immediately.
Those appearing in federal court on Wednesday included retired lobbyist Michael McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd executive and lobbyist John Hooker, and former head of the City Club of Chicago Jay Doherty. Based on a 50-page indictment handed down in late November, it is charged that between 2011-2019 the four devised and executed a comprehensive scheme that provided money, contracts, do-nothing jobs, and legal work for political allies and friends of Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan. It is also charged that more than a dozen ComEd internships were provided to students living in Madigan’s 13th Ward of Chicago, and that a seat on the ComEd Board of Directors was given to a top Madigan ally. All of this was done, according to the indictment, to gain favor with the Speaker in exchange for the passage of legislation that enriched ComEd on the backs of ComEd ratepayers. All four entered pleas of not guilty on Wednesday.
“It has now been 64 days since the Special Investigative Committee has met, and the Democrats serving on the committee continue to show that protecting Mike Madigan is more important to them than learning the truth and holding the Speaker accountable,” said Bourne. “Illinois government cannot function under this cloud of corruption. The investigation must be thorough. Additionally, my colleagues from across the aisle here in Central Illinois should publicly let their constituents know where they stand on this investigation and whether they still support Madigan.”
On the eve of Thanksgiving, SIC Chairman Chris Welch made public more than 100 emails that showed a pattern of McClain and others doing Madigan’s bidding with ComEd. While McClain referred to the Speaker by name only once in the documents, he regularly referred to him as “our Friend” in the emails (click here to read the emails). Madigan has denied any wrong-doing and has not been charged with a crime.
“The emails released last week strengthen the federal case being built against Speaker Madigan,” said Bourne. “While the courts will ultimately determine whether Michael J. Madigan is guilty of crimes, it’s quite obvious that he has breached the public trust and has abused his authority. He no longer has enough votes to retain his Speakership in the 102nd General Assembly, and has said he won’t testify before the SIC. It’s time for him to do the right thing and resign.”
The most serious allegations in the indictment against McClain, Pramaggiore, Hooker, and Doherty carry an up to 20-year prison sentence. A status hearing is set for all four defendants on February 16, and pre-trail motions are set for March 3.