Congressman 'Chuy' Garcia mentioned in recording during feds' ComEd probe

Saturday, January 21, 2023
Congressman 'Chuy' Garcia mentioned in recording during feds' ComEd probe
Congressman Jesus "Chuy" Garcia has new trouble brewing for the Chicago mayoral candidate in connection with the Mike Madigan ComEd indictment case.

CHICAGO -- U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia may be a frontrunner in the Chicago mayoral election, but new trouble is brewing for the congressman.

Garcia is said to be among the names that could drop in March during the trial of four people accused of trying to bribe then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Sources tell ABC7 that he is the unidentified "member of Congress" referenced in court documents in the Mike Madigan ComEd indictment case after his name was mentioned in a recorded phone conversation between Madigan and his longtime confidant, Michael McClain, who one of four people set to go on trial for the alleged scheme revolving around ComEd.

The conversation occurred amid an alleged scheme in which Madigan and McClain are accused of working to have former McPier CEO Juan Ochoa appointed to the board of ComEd - a campaign that allegedly started in November 2017 and lasted more than a year.

By Feb. 19, 2019, the appointment still hadn't been finalized. And records show that Madigan told McClain he'd heard from Ochoa about a meeting.

Though the comment by Madigan to McClain is partially redacted in publicly available court filings, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned Madigan said: "Okay, so you see there's a request from Ochoa, and Ochoa being Ochoa, the message reads, 'Ochoa and Congressman Garcia.' So I called Chuy, and Chuy really didn't know anything about it."

Though the comment was made in the midst of the alleged Ochoa scheme, his meeting request actually dealt with an "unrelated matter," federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing last week.

Garcia's campaign noted he is not accused of any crime and is not involved in any investigation adding: "It is political silly season in Chicago and his opponents are inventing a phony attack because he is the frontrunner in this race."

"Congressman Garcia, you must have missed that when you were cutting deals with Sam Bankman-Fried, the crypto crook, Mike Madigan the indicted speaker," Lori Lightfoot fired off during Thursday's debate, mirroring her ad attacking Garcia.

In the meantime, Garcia said he is planning to launch his own TV ads soon.

"We will be up on TV and those ads are gonna be out of sight," Garcia said.

Still, the fact that Garcia's name will surface in the high-profile case is sure to catch the attention of Garcia's opponents in this year's mayoral election.

The trial of McClain, ex-ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and onetime City Club President Jay Doherty is set to begin March 6. That's roughly one week after the first round of voting for mayor, on Feb. 28. And the case is not expected to be concluded before the expected runoff election between the top two vote-getters, on April 4.

The reference to Garcia in the case was first reported by the Chicago Tribune.

McClain, Pramaggiore, Hooker and Doherty are accused of arranging for Madigan's associates and allies to get jobs, contracts and money in order to influence the once-powerful speaker as legislation that would affect ComEd moved through Springfield.

The Chicago Sun-Times Media Report contributed to this post.