Records involving Madigan sought by federal probe into southwest Chicago suburb

Records involving Madigan sought by federal probe into southwest Chicago suburb

Federal investigators are seeking records from a small village near Chicago. The subpoena names Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, his political lieutenants and former ComEd lobbyists.

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and members of his inner circle are named in a federal subpoena served on a small village southwest of Chicago.

An IRS agent on Feb. 14 delivered the subpoena that gives Merrionette Park, a southwest Chicago suburb, until March 4 to deliver records to a federal grand jury, according to a copy obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. The subpoena seeks “correspondence with, or other communications (such as internal email messages) documenting communications with, Michael Madigan, Michael McClain, Timothy Mapes, Kevin Quinn and/or Marty Quinn.”

McClain is a former state lawmaker, former Commonwealth Edison lobbyist and long-time Madigan confidant who was accused of setting up $30,000 in payments through ComEd lobbyists to Kevin Quinn after he was ousted as a Madigan political operative. Quinn was accused of sexual harassment by campaign worker Alaina Hampton, who recently settled with Madigan’s campaign for $275,000.

Quinn is the brother of Chicago Ald. Marty Quinn, who represents the 13th Ward where Madigan lives.

Mapes was Madigan’s chief of staff until he was ousted by Madigan in 2018 over complaints that he bullied state employees and made inappropriate comments in the workplace.

A long-serving Madigan campaign worker is also a main subject of the subpoena. Raymond Nice since 2006 worked for Madigan and since 2015 worked as a contractor for Merrionette Park, according to the Sun-Times. Contracts, checks, payment records and other documents explaining Nice’s work for the village were sought by the subpoena. Nice declined comment.

Village attorney Burt Odelson said the village was still gathering records. He said it did not appear anyone with the village did anything wrong.

McClain was interviewed by WBEZ and said federal agents tried to get him to help them investigate ComEd and its political dealings. Part of the investigation is into whether Madigan pressured ComEd to hire lobbyists but require little or no work from them, the Sun-Times reported.

The newspaper did not reach a Madigan spokesman.

Nice was a business development consultant for the village, former Mayor Dennis Magee said. Magee said he hired Nice because they were golfing buddies, but that Nice did the work he was paid to do.

Nice formerly worked for the Cook County recorder of deeds, then worked as a ComEd lobbyist for Jay Doherty, also a ComEd lobbyist and City Club of Chicago leader. WBEZ reported Nice ended his ComEd work after federal agents raided City Club offices.

In the past year, federal investigators raided offices and homes across the Chicago suburbs, with red-light traffic camera vendor SafeSpeed LLC the common denominator in many. Agents appear to be trying to establish whether pay-offs were made in exchange for installing the cameras. Merrionette Park has no red-light cameras.

The cameras are responsible for taking $1 billion from drivers in Illinois between 2008 and 2018, according to an Illinois Policy Institute investigation. Studies show they fail to improve traffic safety and increase some types of collisions, serving mainly as municipal cash grabs.

State lawmakers are considering bills to restrict or ban the cameras. Five corruption indictments have resulted from schemes to place the cameras.

While the federal probes progress, Illinois lawmakers should work to block further opportunities for corruption in Illinois. Pending bills include:

  • House Bill 4558, which would empower the state’s weak legislative watchdog office and prevent lawmakers from burying official reports on their colleagues’ misconduct.
  • Senate Bill 2314, which would slow the revolving door from state lawmaker to lobbyist, establishing a two-year “cooling off” period.
  • House Bill 4042, which would bar state lawmakers from lobbying other units of government.
  • House Bill 4041, which would end Springfield’s honor system for disclosing conflicts of interest, instead establishing clear rules for when state lawmakers must recuse themselves from voting on a bill that would benefit them personally.

Many of these corruption reforms were proposed in 2009 after Rod Blagojevich was impeached as governor for trying to sell President Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. Blagojevich’s sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump and ended Feb. 18, meaning the reforms from his misdeeds have been held captive longer than he was.

It’s past time for Illinois to release these anti-corruption reforms.

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