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Tribune: Feds recorded McClain phone calls

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

[This Tuesday night post has been bumped up for visibility.]

* By Ray Long and Jason Meisner at the Tribune

Federal authorities recorded phone calls of one of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s closest confidants as part of the burgeoning investigation into ComEd’s lobbying practices, two sources with knowledge of the probe told the Chicago Tribune.

Recordings of phone conversations involving Michael McClain, who lobbied for ComEd and parent company Exelon before retiring in 2016, are part of the expansive probe that has rocked the Springfield political establishment over the past several months, the sources said. […]

It is unknown if the FBI listened in on any calls between McClain and Madigan, who is famously cautious about what he says in public and over the phone.

But McClain, 71, whose friendship with Madigan dates to when they both served in the House in the 1970s, is widely viewed as one of the few people in Springfield who would have candid conversations about legislative and political strategies with the speaker. Before he retired, McClain often could be found camped out in front of the speaker’s third-floor Capitol office.

He was also a frequent MJM dinner companion. But, as I’ve said before, Madigan is a lot like Paulie Cicero

Paulie hated phones. He wouldn’t have one in his house. He used to get all his calls second hand, then you’d have to call the people back from an outside phone. There were guys, that’s all they did all day long was take care of Paulie’s phone calls.

Then again, they got Paulie in the end.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

54 Comments
  1. - Ok - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 10:30 pm:

    Bet lots of side-eye happening at the bars tonight.


  2. - Altgelds Ghost - Tuesday, Nov 12, 19 @ 11:18 pm:

    Magoo is on fire. The rats are surely scurrying now.


  3. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 12:05 am:

    They got Paulie based upon testimony of someone who thought Paulie was going to have him whacked.


  4. - Anon-ka-donk - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 6:52 am:

    When your “Buffer-in-Chief” had his phones tapped, it might be time to start sweating. You never know what the Feds picked up on McClain whilst listening, unrelated to Himself, that could propel McClain to cooperate with them.


  5. - ILPundit - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 7:02 am:

    This is like learning that Tom Hagen was being wiretapped.


  6. - Paul Powell’s Shoebox - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 7:31 am:

    Isn’t the fact that Madigan doesn’t use a cell phone or a computer the biggest tell that the guy is totally corrupt. In today’s day and age people who are on the up and utilize modern technology. It’s funny that the old school political observers in Illinois just accept this and treat it as if it were normal.


  7. - dying HDO - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:00 am:

    nicely stated, PP Shoebox.


  8. - Illinoised - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:00 am:

    I know a lot of people who don’t use a cell phone or computer.


  9. - Steve - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:01 am:

    This appears to be a very serious investigation. The fact the Deputy Attorney General of the United States has to sign off on this wiretap means certain people at the DOJ believe major criminal acts were committed.


  10. - ILPundit - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:02 am:

    PP Shoebox:

    In fairness, the House Dems didn’t get into online campaign strategies until about 3 weeks ago….


  11. - NotSurprised - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:05 am:

    PPShoebox, I definitely don’t want to live in your world of logic.


  12. - NotSurprised - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:05 am:

    To the post, this doesn’t look good; beginning to think Rico is more realistic each passing day.


  13. - Steve - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:17 am:

    - Paul Powell’s Shoebox -

    In fairness to Mike Madigan here, he didn’t grow up with a cell phone. He rose to the top of the system without a cell phone. He’s always operated effectively without one. Just because someone doesn’t have one , doesn’t mean they’ve broken any laws. As people get older , they often don’t adopt new technologies.


  14. - Responsa - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:28 am:

    == As people get older, they often don’t adopt new technologies.==
    All in all this is a very fun comment section to read this morning.


  15. - farandwide - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:28 am:

    I have an enormous amount of respect for Mike McClain, would be very surprised if he was acting illegally. Wish him the best whatever the outcome.


  16. - Altgelds Ghost - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:33 am:

    All you MJM apologists aere in complete denial. There is not one fortune 500 CEO who doesnt use a cell phone or email. Probably not one Uneversity President, US GOvernor, US Senator, military general or other position of public trust and power.
    It is not acceptable that the Speaker acts like a mob boss. There is nothing cool or admirable about the Speaker/Chair of DPI operating his office like a Mafia Don


  17. - Steve - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:37 am:

    - Altgelds Ghost -

    You miss the point. No doubt Mike Madigan might be indicted given that his name has showed up in FBI search warrants. But, there’s no guarantee that he will be. Not having a cell phone or sending e-mails is not a federal crime. Bill Clinton barely uses e-mails, same with Donald Trump. Not that shocking when you didn’t grow up with it .


  18. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:38 am:

    === MJM apologists===

    Don’t hyperventilate. Get all your words out before passing out.

    To the post,

    We have no idea what was said, not said, recorded or transcribed.

    We know there was a tap on a phone line, the Tribune is reporting it.

    The investigation is not only ongoing, but been going on for some time.

    It’s truly amazing how quickly the want for “something” turns into rabid gnawing at that want.

    Watching and speculating is one thing, the sheer convictions and sentencing before indictments is… troubling.

    I’ll wait and watch. More to watch now.


  19. - Annon - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:39 am:

    It will be interesting see what his conversations withAnne Pramaggiore entailed.


  20. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:44 am:

    Altgelds Ghost
    Other than US Senator, all those positions you mention are executive functions. Madigan exercises a legislative function, one much less involved that US Senator (when was the last time the Joint Chiefs of Staff briefing Madigan?). And Henry Paulson didn’t use email at all, even during the 2008 financial crisis.


  21. - 10th Ward - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:44 am:

    maybe Mike was ordering take out from Saputo’s or getting a case of apples?


  22. - Rutro - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:45 am:

    No cell phone is better than a burner, imho


  23. - phenom_Anon - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:50 am:

    =PPShoebox, I definitely don’t want to live in your world of logic.=

    He or she may be taking it a little far, but if people describe you with things like: “…is a lot like Paulie Cicero” or “…a lot of buffers”, and no one has a problem with the accuracy of those descriptions, then there would certainly seem to be an implication in there somewhere.


  24. - phenom_Anon - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:53 am:

    I would also add that I recall people absolutely skewering Blago when he was on The Apprentice and everybody found out he didn’t use email. I believe the comments here on this board were particularly harsh regarding how clueless and inept that showed him to be.


  25. - Billy Sunday - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:53 am:

    Wowzer..It seems like the sharks are now circling and getting closer to their cherished ‘big fish’?


  26. - Regular democrat - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:54 am:

    In the end it was Hendry who brought down Paulie


  27. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 8:56 am:

    phenom_Anon
    “then there would certainly seem to be an implication in there somewhere.”

    The implication is people on this blog LOVE “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” … /s


  28. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:00 am:

    “Isn’t the fact that Madigan doesn’t use a cell phone or a computer the biggest tell that the guy is totally corrupt.”

    I am no fan of MJM - but his avoidance of the Cell phone/computer is no sign of corruption. We live in an age of surveillance - big data and media companies are constantly collecting info. In this one instance I wish I could be like Mike.


  29. - phenom_Anon - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:07 am:

    =We live in an age of surveillance - big data and media companies are constantly collecting info. In this one instance I wish I could be like Mike.=

    Then why aren’t people here comparing him to the tinfoil hat cliché?

    No one has a problem when his operation’s avoidance of phone calls, emails, and direct conversations, is described as being similar to Paulie Cicero’s or Don Corleone’s own systems. In fact people have fun quoting those movies in regards to him. But those comparisons bring an obvious implication as to the reasoning behind his personal communication strategies.


  30. - Cubs in '16 - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:08 am:

    ===In the end it was Hendry who brought down Paulie===

    Hendry brought down the Cubs but had nothing to do with the mob as far as I can tell.


  31. - bo - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:16 am:

    - Altgelds Ghost -

    Lindsey Graham admittedly has never sent an email in his life. Also corrupt by definition then?


  32. - JoanP - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:18 am:

    =Isn’t the fact that Madigan doesn’t use a cell phone or a computer the biggest tell that the guy is totally corrupt=

    Not necessarily. Some people just don’t like them, even some younger folk: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/nov/12/robbie-williams-hasnt-owned-a-mobile-phone-since-2006-elton-john


  33. - Sayitaintso - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:21 am:

    ‘In the end, Hendry…..’. Gotta love that reference. I thought I was one of the few who caught that - maybe two or tree others.


  34. - City Zen - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:23 am:

    ==Isn’t the fact that Madigan doesn’t use a cell phone==

    I was seated next to Madigan in a restaurant and saw him pull out a cell phone.


  35. - Anon 9:28 - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:30 am:

    =Lindsey Graham admittedly has never sent an email in his life. Also corrupt by definition then?=

    Legally corrupt or morally corrupt?


  36. - anonon - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:31 am:

    I’m seeing a fine attempt by many commenters here to hijack this post by redirecting the discussion from McClain’s phone being tapped to whether or not its corrupt to forgo technology when communicating. Lets be perfectly clear…you can dither and distract all you want, but we are ultimately not judges. The real judges determined that McClain’s actions were potentially criminally enough that they approved a tap of his phones. Now, the question isn’t whether or not the Speaker owns a cell phone, but rather what he was doing, and who he was doing it with, that was considered criminal. Lets ask how long have the phones been tapped? Lets think about all the discussions that have taken place in that time. Lets ask what McCLain was saying to Anne Pamegiore, and why she has resigned her positions? Lets ask why so many who McClain steered ComEd contracts to have terminated those relationships. Lets ask why SEC records show that Jay Doherty was paid $3.1 million over a period of time, even though his lobbying fees didn’t equal that amount. Where did the rest of that money go, and who directed it? While accepting that we are all innocent until proven guilty, lets ask serious questions, and not waste time debating whether or not a person is corrupt for not using a cell phone. This is a serious matter, so we should be serious.


  37. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:40 am:

    ===rather what he was doing, and who he was doing it with, that was considered criminal.===

    For discussion purposes, that may be a discussion thought, but it was not Madigan’s phone tapped, it was someone else’s.

    Until we know, this is no different than wishing not a thoughtful attempt to where this is headed.

    === Where did the rest of that money go, and who directed it?===

    That could be on recordings, of not.

    The question is relevant. The end result of that question is still unknown.

    ===This is a serious matter, so we should be serious.===

    Good stuff there.


  38. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:46 am:

    - anonon -

    To show my good faith, I agree with a great deal of what you typed;

    === - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 24, 19 @ 11:34 am

    While the questioning of Quinn, individually, to all this is relevant, looking outside-in, without knowing significant pieces, the payments, the checks, the amounts, and the connection to one company, a large utility, for someone doing… nothing…

    “who benefits?”

    If the speculation is ComEd/Exelon is owed… or if the case that is another side to be made, MJM is owed…

    … who benefits from what we already know… cause all that we don’t know is pretty darn significant to the question

    “who benefits?”===


  39. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:46 am:

    =Isn’t the fact that Madigan doesn’t use a cell phone or a computer the biggest tell that the guy is totally corrupt=

    I thought it was the deal where you would receive a high property tax assessment from the Chair of the Cook County Democratic party, then hire the law firm of the Chair of the Illinois Democratic party to have it reduced. Wait three years, rinse and repeat. (All 100% legal I understand)


  40. - Ebenezer - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:47 am:

    Anymouse at 9:46 is me.


  41. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:51 am:

    Madigan has been in politics since democracy was founded 25 centuries ago. If any politician should know how to avoid breaking the law, it’s him. Let’s hope he didn’t—same for anyone else.


  42. - 100 miles west - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:51 am:

    It is hard to wire tap post-it-notes attached to file folders and slid across the table


  43. - Steve - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 9:51 am:

    - anonon -

    No doubt you raise important questions, with answers we don’t know. I wasn’t attempting to redirect anything. I’m not a Mike Madigan defender. But, in fairness to him : not owning a cell phone isn’t a federal crime. Madigan hasn’t been indicted on anything.


  44. - anonon - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:00 am:

    i think its fair to say that serious people aren’t debating whether a person’s integrity is measured by their usage of a computer or a cell phone. there is a lot of smoke here, and the lack of cell phone use has no impact on the behavior being investigated. can we move on from that and back to the story, and Mr. McClain’s activities in question?


  45. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:05 am:

    === McClain’s activities in question===

    What are these activities?

    I dunno *what* they are yet.


  46. - RNUG - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:08 am:

    We will have to wait and see what the Feds got on tape.

    But if the Feds didn’t get something incriminating on MJM this time, they never will.


  47. - Responsa - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:20 am:

    The Trib knows about the McClain wiretap because somebody (some org) wanted that info out there. That is the story.


  48. - anonon - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:35 am:

    Responsa hit the nail on the head.


  49. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    === The Trib knows about the McClain wiretap because somebody (some org) wanted that info out there. That is the story. ===

    Someone (presumably the Feds) have been leaking pieces of information to Ray Long for several months now. Why leak this information if you have enough info to charge someone? Maybe they think the impending freak out from each of these pieces of information will result in more information from those freaking out. Only time will tell.


  50. - phenom_Anon - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 11:06 am:

    =It is hard to wire tap post-it-notes attached to file folders and slid across the table=

    =But if the Feds didn’t get something incriminating on MJM this time, they never will.=

    IMHO, good stuff right there.


  51. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 11:49 am:

    “Then again, they got Paulie in the end.”

    The problem with a system that has worked flawlessly for years and years is that you sometimes forget that no system can be flawless.

    – MrJM


  52. - Ginhouse Tommy - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 12:52 pm:

    In response to RNUG’s comment, even if they did get something on MJM can they make it stick. Many of you who comment know the man and his tactics much better than I do. He didn’t accumulate as much power as he has by being careless and I doubt if anyone would rat him out. Failure to finish the job would mean political suicide. From what Rich has said on this blog, he carries a grudge on even the slightest insult.


  53. - RNUG - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 1:46 pm:

    == In response to RNUG’s comment … ==

    I was implying 2 things. (1) as you say, the man is careful and has survived other probes and (2) this kind of large scale Federal investigation comes around every decade or so; if they miss now, he will likely be retired by the next time they try.


  54. - Ginhouse Tommy - Wednesday, Nov 13, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    I meant no disrespect. He always seems to put a buffer between himself and whatever is going on. He is careful. I would agree with you that if they don’t have enough on him they won’t try again. I would expect that the way this is developing some big shots are in serious trouble.


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