McClain suspected somebody was wired, he just guessed incorrectly

MCCLAIN SUNTIMES

Michael McClain Sun-Times file

QUINCY — ComEd and Exelon faced another round of serious negotiations over legislation in Springfield early in 2019, and former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain had a problem.

The longtime confidant ofthen-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan had already retired from his lobbying job, so Madigan asked who would serve as ComEd’s “lead” on the bill. McClain couldn’t come up with a name — but he knew he didn’t trust ComEd’s new CEO, Joseph Dominguez.

“I would trust Joe to think that … this is a quid pro quo,” McClain said in February 2019 of Dominguez, a former federal prosecutor. “And that he’s wired.”

Jurors heard that comment and several others Monday as prosecutors continued to make their case that McClain and three other former political power players conspired over nearly a decade to bribe Madigan to benefit ComEd.

McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and onetime City Club President Jay Doherty are accused of arranging jobs, contracts and money for Madigan’s allies as legislation crucial to the utility moved through Springfield.

Defense attorneys for the four insist their actions amounted to nothing more than legal, honest lobbying,and they’ve told jurors they would “hear no words” linking job recommendations from Madigan with any piece of legislation. 

But talk of favors for Madigan seemed to blend with ComEd’s legislative interests in the recordings played Monday for jurors. They also seemed to address what prosecutors have said is the “primary issue” in the trial: The intent of the four defendants.

“It’s unmentioned, but you know, that which is understood need not be mentioned,” Hooker told McClain in a March 6, 2019, call played for jurors.

Prosecutors played the recordings after ending the weeklong testimony of Fidel Marquez, a former ComEd executive who cooperated with federal investigators. He pleaded guilty to a bribery conspiracy in September 2020, but only after turning on his former friends and colleagues.

In one crucial recording played Monday, jurors could hear McClain and Hooker discussing how Madigan allies were being paid as subcontractors through a contract between ComEd and Doherty’s consulting firm. 

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