Federal prosecutors have been digging into Michael Madigan’s inner circle, charging several of his friends in connection to a bribery scheme.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat, is the longest-serving leader of any state or federal legislative body in the history of the U.S., as he has held his position as Speaker of the House in Illinois for all but two years since 1983.
Madigan insists that he has taken no bribes, but prosecutors don’t seem to agree, as they have indicted several of his confidants and close friends in connection to a bribery scheme.
On Wednesday, prosecutors charged both longtime confidant Michael McClain, and ex-ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, in a bribery scheme designed to curry favor with the powerful Democrat.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that “Also named in the 50-page indictment are ex-top ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and Jay Doherty, the former president of the City Club, who was accused of helping to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to three people with ties to Madigan’s 13th Ward.”
Each of these Madigan allies are charged in a document which makes frequent references to ex-ComEd executive Fidel Marquez, who has already pleaded guilty to bribery. The document also repeatedly refers to “Public Official A,” who is not specifically named, but is clearly identified as Madigan.
Despite an intense federal probe that is obviously aimed at Madigan, he has yet to be charged with any crime.
McClain, Pramaggiore, Hooker, and Doherty are each charged with bribery conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd books and records. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Lausch confirmed that he investigation which led to the indictment “remains ongoing.”
All four of their defense attorneys have vowed to fight the case against their respective clients. Patrick Cotter, McClain’s attorney, said the case is 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.”
Details of the recent indictment match up with several details revealed in July when prosecutors charged ComEd with bribery in a case that has created political shockwaves in the past four months. It led to a legislative probe of Madigan’s dealings with the company, and may lead to Madigan losing his power as House Speaker in Illinois.
ComEd admitted to several of the allegations in a “deferred prosecution agreement,” despite formally pleading not guilty in court, which led to the payment of a $200 million fine. If the company abides by the terms of the agreement, the bribery charge filed in July will likely be dismissed.
Details of the Indictment
According to the recent indictment, McClain, Pramaggiore, Hooker and Doherty arranged for Madigan’s associates and allies to get jobs, contracts, and money, while doing little or no work, “for the purpose of influencing and rewarding” Madigan. The indictment also focuses on an unnamed law firm, favoring of applicants from the 13th Ward, “Madigan’s attempt to have former McPier CEO Juan Ochoa appointed to ComEd’s board of directors and the hiring of other individuals associated with Madigan,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
It is also alleged that payments were made to Doherty’s firm totaling more than $2 million between January 27, 2014, and May 3, 2019. Then, Doherty made $256,000 in payments to an unnamed individual identified by the Sun-Times as former Alderman Frank Olivo, $325,000 in payments to another unnamed individual, and $144,000 in payments to a third individual.
Pramaggiore then reportedly signed a false document supporting renewing Doherty’s firm’s contract, making it appear as though the large amount of money paid to it was for its “unique insight & perspective to promote ComEd and its business matters.”
The indictment also alleges that the four would hide the nature of their conduct by not referring to Madigan by name, but instead calling him “our Friend” or “a Friend of ours.”
McCain allegedly sent an email to Pramaggiore and Hooker telling them: “I know the drill and so do you,” and “Our Friend will call me and then I will call you. Is this a drill we must go through?”
“I just do not understand why we have to spend valuable minutes on items like this when we know it will provoke a reaction from our Friend,” McClain also allegedly wrote.