‘It was made clear that nobody is above the law’: Reactions to the McClain conviction


Former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain walks down the street with his son, Patrick, on Tuesday after being found guilty on nine counts in federal court. | Photo courtesy of Brett Rowland, The Center Square

Local and state political leaders are reacting to Tuesday’s guilty verdict of retired lobbyist Mike McClain of Quincy on nine charges of federal bribery.

Statement from the office of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker:
“Since taking office, Gov. Pritzker has advanced the cause of ethics reform in key areas, especially in bringing more transparency to the process and tightening requirements for lobbyists. The governor believes we must restore the public’s trust in government. Today’s verdicts are proof that no one is above the law.”

State Senator Jil Tracy (R-50) of Quincy:
“This trial has further brought to light the legislative corruption and the abuse of power that exists in our state government. It is my hope that these verdicts provide the pressure needed for the General Assembly to finally take up real reforms to change a system where too often politicians are more concerned about their own interests than those of the people. Today, it was made clear that nobody is above the law, but that doesn’t mean reform isn’t needed. This court case should be a catalyst for changing how business is done in Springfield.”

State Senator Neil Anderson (R-47) of Moline (his district includes northern Adams County, parts of McDonough County and all of Hancock County:
“For years, politicians have gotten away with backroom for-profit deals at the expense of special interest and politically connected groups. Today’s verdict shows nobody is above the law. It is a clear indication that our state’s ethical system needs overhauled. It’s time to enact real reforms to restore the public’s trust in our state’s government by confronting the culture of corruption in Springfield that has gone unchecked for decades.”

Former Quincy Mayor John Spring:
“We’ve been friends for, gosh, a long, long time. Since I moved here from St. Louis in like 1974-75. 

“It was sad (to hear the news). I really felt bad obviously for Mike and for his family, both the Awerkamp and McClain sides of the family. I’m not sure that I would have expected it … on all nine counts that he would be found guilty. It was a blow. I think the key thing is going to be when they set a sentencing date and what that will bring forth.

“I hope that people realize Mike did so much good for this area, beginning with those 10 years when he was our state rep. There were so many things that got done. The biggest one in my mind was Interstate 72. The Twin Eagle Bridges outside of Pittsfield were at a standstill because of the eagle nesting. The judge was holding it up, and Mike really was responsible to help get that moving again and getting that highway completed through Quincy. Mike was instrumental in a lot of transportation issues, mostly the highway issues after he was in the legislature, because of his connections in Springfield.

“I feel really bad for for him that he’s had to go through this. I’m not here to judge what he did or didn’t do. I’m his friend, and I will always be his friend. This is a sad day for our community.” 

Former Quincy Mayor Chuck Scholz:
“It was heartbreaking. I’ve known Mike my whole life. I admire Mike McClain, and I’m aware, maybe more than others, of all the good works he’s done, many of which was anonymous.

“He’s helped a lot of people, and he had no criminal intent here. This is just a miscarriage of justice. This started out under a Republican Justice Department as an attack on Mike Madigan. He’s had a target on his back for at least 10 years, politically and somewhat governmentally. Mike is collateral damage. He’s how they thought they could get to Madigan. He didn’t do what they wanted. So they ruined his life. It’s horrible.

“I’m not defending the system. It could use change. It should be more transparent. But you can’t criminalize politics.

“ComEd would hire the interns that Madigan sent to them. So how do they define that as a crime? One intern is OK, but you can’t hire 10? It’s crazy. I mean, it’s ridiculous. Lord knows I’ve hired a lot of interns over the years. No, there’s never any expectation of a quid pro quo.

“I think it’s awful. I’m going continue to pray and pull for Mike and Cinda.”

Statement from the office of the Democratic Party of Illinois:
“The verdicts delivered by the jury demonstrate that no one is above the law. Illinoisans must be able to trust the officials they elected to represent them to act with honor and integrity. Our lawmakers should be held to a high standard to create a state government that is transparent, accessible and ethical, and it is evident that Illinois’ leaders are committed to restoring public trust.”

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