ComEd trial: Rep. Bob Rita says ex-Speaker Mike Madigan ruled House through 'fear and intimidation'

Michelle Gallardo Image
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Rep. Rita says Madigan ruled House through 'fear and intimidation'
State Rep. Bob Rita said he followed the lead of Mike Madigan confidant Mike McClain when supporting a bill at the heart of the ComEd Four trial.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- State Rep. Bob Rita said on Tuesday that despite being the main sponsor for one of the bills at the heart of the ComEd corruption trial, he was often kept out of the loop when it came to the drafting of the bill.

Rita said he ultimately followed the lead set by ComEd lobbyist Mike McClain, a confidant of former House Speaker Michael Madigan.

SEE ALSO | ComEd Four trial: Jury hears phone calls between ex-Speaker Mike Madigan, defendant Mike McClain

Assistant Majority Leader Rita admitted under oath that he didn't know much about energy or ComEd when he became the main sponsor of a 2016 bill known as FEJA, the Future Energy Jobs Act, one of the pieces of legislation at the heart of the so-called ComEd Four trial.

Rita, who testified on Monday that Madigan ruled the House through "fear and intimidation," said he was guided through the process both by Madigan's chief legal counsel and by defendant McClain.

Rita recalling a committee meeting on December 1, 2016, just before the bill was sent to the floor for a vote, when Rita, who inclined to vote against a last-minute amendment, was pulled aside by McClain, and told "it was fine, and to adopt the amendment."

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

Rita did. FEJA was passed by the full house later that day, paving the way for ComEd's parent company, Exelon, to keep its nuclear power plants open, and greatly improving the utility's financial position.

Also testifying on Tuesday was Exelon and ComEd's former general counsel, Thomas O'Neill, who stepped down shortly after the bribery scheme became public. Because while he is not charged with any wrongdoing, O'Neill played a significant role in ComEd's campaign to get significant legislation passed, making him a key witness to the investigation and prosecution of the ComEd four.