Madigan knew about secret payments to ousted political operative, unsealed court filing allegations – Chicago Tribune

House Speaker Michael Madigan knew in advance that several lobbyists would send secret payments to a top lieutenant he ousted in a 2018 sexual harassment scandal, recently unsealed court records have revealed.

The revelation undermines the script the now indicted ex-president released when the Tribune first revealed that his longtime confidant Michael McClain lined up friendly utility lobbyists to pay Kevin thousands of dollars. Quinn despite her abrupt departure.

“So, speaker, I’ve gotten together four or five people who are willing to contribute to help a monthly thing, for the next six months, as I told you,” McClain told Madigan in a phone call. on Aug. 29, 2018. was secretly taped by the FBI, according to a search warrant affidavit unsealed in U.S. District Court in Springfield on Friday.

The 136-page affidavit was filed in May 2019 in support of a search warrant for McClain’s iPhone and other items. It was the same month that the FBI executed a series of raids on the homes of McClain and several others linked to a sprawling investigation involving alleged bribes paid by ComEd in exchange for Madigan’s influence on legislation. in Springfield.

Madigan, the Chicago Democrat dethroned last year after a national record 36 years as president, and McClain, a former House lawmaker turned contract lobbyist for ComEd and other clients, have both been indicted in march for racketeering and bribery.

McClain faces a separate trial in September in the ComEd kickbacks case with the utility company’s former CEO and two other lobbyists.

None of the pending charges highlight payments or Madigan’s handpicked 13th Ward Ald brother Quinn. Marty Quinn. Neither Quinn has been charged with wrongdoing.

Madigan’s attorneys did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on Monday.

The affidavit noted that Madigan and McClain were considered at the time “subjects” of an extensive public corruption investigation. It also signaled that McClain performed numerous assignments for the speaker and acted as a virtual surrogate even after the lobbyist retired in 2016.

But the revelation that Madigan had spoken to McClain on the phone in August 2018 about plans to help Quinn despite her ousting in the sexual harassment scandal raised doubts about the speaker’s sincerity in addressing #MeToo issues.

When the Tribune first revealed the payments three years ago, a spokeswoman for Madigan released a statement: “If a group of people were trying to help Kevin Quinn, the speaker wasn’t one of them. .

Quinn was expelled from the speaker’s political and government organization for alleged sexual harassment of Democratic activist Alaina Hampton.

Hampton later settled with campaign funds tied to Madigan after she filed a federal lawsuit alleging she was barred from the speaker’s political organization because she reported Kevin Quinn’s actions.

In a statement on Monday, Hampton said that after speaking out about sexual harassment, she was “gassed, publicly disparaged and barred from employment.”

“At the time news broke that Quinn was financially taken care of by lobbyists aligned with President Madigan, the president’s spokesperson publicly denied any involvement,” Hampton said. “Today the truth has come out, as we always knew it would one day.”

In the August 2018 Madigan-McClain taped conversation, the speaker acknowledged the payment plans to Quinn, responding “yeah, yeah.” But Madigan then informed McClain that he “wanted to be able to come across as having no knowledge of the payments,” according to the affidavit unsealed in Springfield last week.

“Yeah,” Madigan said, turning down McClain’s offer to allow the speaker to brief the others on the plan, “I think I should stay out of it.”

McClain said, “Okay.” Madigan said, “That’s what I think.”

McClain replied, “I’m on it.”

At one point, McClain allegedly confided to an unidentified person that Madigan planned to be sworn in as a speaker and then “intended to help” Quinn.

The Tribune first reported in 2019 that up to $10,000 in payments were sent to Kevin Quinn by McClain and other current and former utility lobbyists. The tally rose to at least $31,000 when the Tribune gained access to more bank records.

The new federal filing showed the plan McClain outlined called for lobbyists to each donate $1,000 to $2,000 a month for six months.

The people who sent checks to Quinn include some of Springfield’s most influential Democratic lobbyists. Like McClain, they had ties to Madigan, ComEd, or both.

They included Will Cousineau, who presents himself as the president’s longest-serving political director; former Marion rep John Bradley, once a member of Madigan’s management team; Tom Cullen, a former House staffer and ComEd lobbyist who later worked for Ameren; and Michael Alvarez, a former Metropolitan Water Reclamation District commissioner, lobbied the city of Chicago for ComEd.

Cousineau’s company, Washington-based Cornerstone Government Affairs, and Bradley are no longer on ComEd’s list of lobbyists.

Emails the Tribune also obtained in 2019 showed that McClain had written to lobbyists that contracts with Quinn would last “six months, maximum.” At least four of the checks were signed by McClain’s wife from the couple’s joint account.

McClain also thanked the lobbyists for “helping Kevin Quinn.”

A few weeks later, Madigan wrote an op-ed in the Tribune about the culture of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. The speaker promised that he had “made it a personal mission to tackle this problem head on and correct the mistakes of the past”.

“I wish I had done this sooner,” Madigan wrote in the post published September 20, 2018.

As the shockwaves of the national #MeToo movement still reverberate through the Capitol, McClain recognized the potential for backlash if the back channel arrangement were revealed.

“I can’t tell you how important it is to keep all of this confidential,” McClain warned Quinn in another email. “These men stick their necks out knowing full well that if this becomes public before you’re exonerated, they’ll get the most out of the ‘MeToo’ movement. So please respect confidentiality.”

[email protected]

[email protected]

About Wanda Reilly

Check Also

Super PAC emerges to encourage DeSantis to run for president

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis may be playing coy on his presidential intentions, but a …