ComEd Four trial: Ex-legislators testify to Madigan's influence; 1st undercover recording played

The call between defendant Mike McClain and Lou Lang relayed a message from Madigan that it was time for Lang to move on.

Michelle Gallardo Image
Friday, March 17, 2023 4:55PM
ComEd Four trial: 1st undercover phone recording played in court
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The call between defendant Mike McClain and Lou Lang relayed a message from House Speaker Mike Madigan that it was time for Lang to move on.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- During the first full day of testimony in the "ComEd Four" trial, there was barely a mention of ComEd at all, with only defendant Mike McClain's name mentioned.

Rather, today was about establishing former House Speaker Mike Madigan as the one person during his tenure who could make or break a piece of legislation, wrote the rules that ran the House and would substitute committee members if he knew a particular member was going to vote against his wishes.

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"I did not expect to lose my chairmanship because I was acting in the best interests of my district," said Carol Sente, a former State Representative from Vernon Hills who believes she was punished for not supporting bills that were important to Madigan.

When asked under cross examination however if the then-Speaker had ever pressured her to vote for an energy bill involving ComEd, her answer was "No."

It was the same for Scott Drury, another former State Rep, who says he was also iced out after he became the only Democrat to not vote for Madigan's re-election as Speaker during the start of his third term.

"He was not the right person to be running the Illinois General Assembly," Drury said.

But it was the testimony of Lou Lang - the former Deputy Majority Leader from Skokie who was once part of Madigan's of inner circle but was brought down by sexual harassment allegations - that led to the playing of the first undercover cell phone recording.

The call held on November 8, 2018 between defendant Mike McClain and Lang relayed a message from the Speaker that it was time for Lang to move on.

"This is not just me talking. This is someone who cares deeply for you, who wants you to move on," Mike McLain said in the call.

"I would never embarrass him that way," replied Lang, who continues to deny the allegations, but then asks, "Do you think he [Madigan] would be helpful to me in business procurements?"

"Yes," McClain replied.

In the end, Lang resigned from his seat in January of 2019.

In another call with then-Madigan staffer Craig Willert on February 20, 2019, McClain is heard saying: "My client is not ComED...My client is not Walgreens. My client is the Speaker."

Testimony in this same vein is expected to continue on Monday when the trial resumes.