(The Center Square) – The so-called ComEd Four trial continues Monday with more phone-recorded evidence expected to show the inner workings of what federal prosecutors call “Madigan Enterprise.”
Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan isn’t on trial until next year. He faces 22 corruption-related counts. Four others are on trial. They’re all charged with a nearly decade-long bribery conspiracy scheme in which ComEd officials provided little- to do-nothing jobs and other benefits to Madigan associates in exchange for favorable legislation.
Among the evidence prosecutors have presented so far is a series of audio recordings of full and partial phone calls that appear to show Madigan giving assignments to confidant Michael McClain, one of the four on trial.
In audio from Oct. 21, 2018, McClain is assigned by Madigan to pressure former lawmaker Lou Lang to resign in the face of sexual harassment allegations in the height of the #MeToo movement.
“Mike, if you think I’m wrong, tell me I’m wrong, but I don’t see how he continues down there,” Madigan said.
McClain follows that directive and in later audio recordings is heard urging Lang to step down from leadership at Madigan’s behest in the face of possible allegations.
“I guess this gal is claiming that she’s not going public unless you’re in leadership,” McClain said in a call with Lang from Nov. 8, 2018.
“Well, alright, so that’s something that I’ll have to consider, but more important than what she has to say is what he has to say,” Lang said.
“Right,” McClain said.
“And, I hear you,” Lang said.
Lang testified in court Thursday, as did two other former lawmakers. There are 70 witnesses in the trial that’s expected to last more than a month.
Audio evidence also captured McClain giving Madigan a report back about what he conveyed to Lang and future work for Madigan.
“‘Look, he’ll use ya,’” McClain said in a recording marked from Nov. 8, 2018. “‘The speaker doesn’t use me for everything, he uses [unintelligible], uses Will for certain things, [unintelligible] for certain things.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Madigan said in agreement.
“Um, but no, he’ll, he’ll ask you when he thinks it’s appropriate and you’d be helpful. He’ll ask ya,” McClain said.
“Yeah, sure, sure, sure,” Madigan replied.
In another call, McClain is heard talking with Craig Willert, who isn’t facing charges but was a former top Madigan staff member and current lobbyist, about allegiances to Madigan.
“All I do is I get assigned, and I do the assignment, and then I carry the message, that’s all,” McClain said in a call from July 11, 2018.
“Yup. Yeah, I know,” Willert said. “And, and, big picture really is, you know, once, we should be building capital for the boss. Not, not, the other way around, so.”
On Feb. 20, 2019, McClain told Willert he’ll always struggle with what Willert said is “sometimes I shill for my friends rather than what’s in the best interest of the Speaker.”
“My client is not ComEd, my client is not uh CBOE, my client is not Walgreens, my client is the Speaker,” McClain said. “And once you come at, not you, but once a lobbyist comes to peace that that’s their client, it’s a lot easier,” McClain said as he laughed.
McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, ex-ComED lobbyist John Hooker and Jay Doherty, a lobbyist and consultant who once served as chief of the City Club of Chicago, all pleaded not guilty. The trial resumes Monday.