ComEd Four trial: Prosecutors try to connect Mike Madigan to various utility contracts, hirings

Michelle Gallardo Image
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Prosecutors try to connect Madigan to ComEd contracts, hirings
In the ComEd Four trial, government prosecutors spent the day connecting the dots between various appointments and contracts and former House Speaker Mike Madigan.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Prosecutors tried to make a direct connection between ComEd hirings and Michael Madigan in the corruption trial of the "ComEd Four" Wednesday.

Government prosecutors spent the day connecting the dots between various appointments and contracts and former House Speaker Mike Madigan.

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With ComEd's former General Counsel Tom O'Neill on the stand, government prosecutors drew a direct line between ComEd's big legislation pushes and a law firm contract ComEd first entered with Reyes Kurson in 2011.

That was around the time the utility company was lobbying the General Assembly to override Governor Pat Quinn's veto of a bill critically important to the utility. The law firm was headed by Victor Reyes, a political ally of Mike Madigan. The contract was then renewed in 2016 amidst negotiations to get yet another bill passed.

But not before O'Neill says he experienced significant pushback from lobbyist Mike McClain and CEO Anne Pramaggiore when he tried to significantly scale it back.

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"I'm sure you know how valuable Victor is to our Friend," McClain wrote in an email to Pramaggiore dated January 20th, 2016. He added that: "I know the drill and so do you. If you do not get involved and resolve this issue of 850 hours for his law firm per year then he will go to our Friend. Our Friend will call me and then I will call you. Is this a drill we must go through?"

"Our Friend" is, according to the indictment, one of the ways McClain often referred to Mike Madigan, who in 2017 appears to have exercised his influence with the utility once again.

This time, it was to get another political ally, Juan Ochoa, appointed to the ComEd board of directors, bringing with it an $80,000 a year paycheck. The appointment was made two years later.

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"I had some concerns about someone from the Speaker's office serving on the board," said Tom O'Neill in court Wednesday, adding that, despite this, Pramaggiore "wanted to go forward. She thought it was important."

On cross-examination, O'Neill admitted that at no time during the years he was General Counsel did anyone at ComEd suggest that Madigan would do as they wanted in the Assembly because he was being given contracts and jobs for his political allies. O'Neill's testimony is expected to continue into Thursday.