Holiday break? House panel investigating Madigan releases load of documents and schedules December hearing

Holiday break? House panel investigating Madigan releases load of documents and schedules December hearing

The special House investigative committee is scheduled to meet again Dec. 14, the chair of that committee said after receiving more than 100 documents from the utility company.

Releasing hundreds of pages of documents from ComEd on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, the special legislative panel looking into House Speaker Michael Madigan’s dealings with the utility on Wednesday announced plans to hold its first hearing in months — 11 days before the December holidays.

The special House investigative committee is scheduled to meet again Dec. 14, the chair of that committee said after receiving more than 100 documents from the utility company.

The documents reveal a relentless drumbeat of requests by Madigan associates for jobs and favors from high-ranking ComEd officials.

But the lead Democrat on the legislative panel, Hillside’s Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, tried to downplay that, issuing a statement saying the documents show that “associates of ComEd assisted with job recommendations for people from both parties, both chambers, and multiple branches of government.”

The document dump Wednesday afternoon — when much of the state was distracted with negotiating Thanksgiving in the middle of a global pandemic — makes public some of the emails between Michael McClain, a longtime ally and confidant of Madigan’s, and former ComEd employee Fidel Marquez and Anne Pramaggiore, a former CEO of the utility company, that were referenced in a 50-page indictment of McClain, Pramaggiore and two others last week.

Mike McClain, left; Mike Madigan, right.Sun-Times File Photos
Mike McClain, left; Mike Madigan, right.

“With this information, the committee plans to resume meeting in-person on Monday, December 14, giving members time to take necessary health and safety precautions following the Thanksgiving holiday and return prepared to safely continue the work of the committee,” Welch wrote in his statement.

Madigan, who has not been charged with any crime but has been implicated in the federal investigation of ComEd, is often referred to as “our friend” or “the speaker” but rarely by name in the documents.

In one email exchange, Anne Burgos, who serves as the senior citizen liaison in Madigan’s 13th Ward, forwards the resume of Juan Ochoa to Pramaggiore at Madigan’s request. Ochoa served as the CEO of McPier, and McClain “sought” his appointment to ComEd’s board of directors, prosecutors say in the indictment.

“Speaker Madigan asked me to send this to you,” Burgos wrote in the email. “ Please confirm receipt.”

The email doesn’t reflect any explicit pressure for Pramaggiore to put Ochoa on the board.

The indictment alleges the utility favored intern applicants from the 13th Ward and refers to Madigan’s attempt to have Ochoa appointed to ComEd’s board of directors.

In a statement after the indictment came out, the powerful Southwest Side Democrat defended himself saying “there is nothing wrong or illegal about making job recommendations, regardless of what people inside ComEd may have hoped to achieve from hiring some of the people who were recommended.”

A spokeswoman for Madigan did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

Also mentioned in the documents is House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. McClain says to Marquez in one email exchange “Can we move on this item or at least tell Durkin through his agent we will?”

Days later, McClain presses Marquez, asking “You have been very kind in responding to a myriad of matters today but this one. Can you decide? I really believe it is a wise move to respond favorably to Leader Durkin’s request.”

Asked for comment about Durkin’s name appearing in the documents, Eleni Demertzis, a spokeswoman for Durkin said in a statement “even after a decade of bribing Mike Madigan, ComEd continues to protect him and the Democratic Party of Illinois by waiting months to deliver this evidence the day before Thanksgiving.

“These emails speak for themselves, and it is well past time to subpoena Mike Madigan to get answers,” her statement continued. “Chairman Chris Welch needs to quit stalling the investigation in an attempt to shield Mike Madigan from accountability.”

The documents also include a reference to former Democratic state Senate President John Cullerton recommending a potential job candidate to Marquez for ComEd’s communications department.

“He probably could or could not handle the top spot,” McClain says in one email to Pramaggiore. “As you know I have been trying for years to get someone inside there to be sensitive to politics and the General Assembly, I have consistently failed. Most of the time my recommendations do not even get pass His Honor [redacted].”

Also named in last week’s indictment were Ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and former City Club President Jay Doherty, who was accused of helping to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to three people with ties to Madigan’s 13th Ward.