McClain state pension in limbo following conviction

McClains

Michael McClain — Muddy River News file photo/Center Square

CHICAGO — State officials suspended the legislative pension of former lobbyist Michael McClain after his conviction May 2 alongside the ‘ComEd Four’ on bribery charges, but the suspension may only be temporary.

McClain, a former Illinois House representative and ComEd lobbyist with longtime ties to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, was found guilty on nine counts of conspiring and falsifying business records in a scheme to bribe Madigan and advance the utility giant’s legislative agenda in Springfield.

Following the verdict, officials at the General Assembly Retirement System moved to withhold McClain’s pension, which has paid out more than $313,000 to the former legislator since 2002. A spokesperson said the system will consult Attorney General Kwame Raoul on whether the suspension can be made permanent.

But Illinois law states that legislative pensions can only be revoked if the representative engaged in misconduct in connection to their service in the General Assembly. McClain left the House following his defeat in the 1982 election, before working as a lobbyist or consultant for ComEd.

Raoul’s office has also already issued opinions in support of reinstating legislative pensions of two former Illinois lawmakers who pled guilty to federal tax evasion.

One of these politicians was former state Rep. Edward Acevedo, D-Chicago, who also received no-work contracts from ComEd at Madigan’s behest. Acevedo was not charged in the ‘ComEd Four’ trial.

Former Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson said tightening these felony-forfeiture laws for legislative pension should be considered in post-ComEd trial ethics-reform packages.

Raoul is expected to issue an opinion on the suspension after McClain is sentenced alongside the other members of the ‘ComEd Four’ in January 2024.

McClain, who is scheduled to be sentenced on his bribery convictions on Jan. 11, 2024, will also stand trial with Madigan on separate charges of racketeering and bribery in April 2024.

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