* My Crain’s Chicago Business column…
I’ve known Mike McClain for years.
I couldn’t possibly count the number of times House Speaker Michael Madigan’s most trusted adviser and I went out together in Springfield, mostly with other people but sometimes just us. Yes, he was a useful conduit into Madigan’s mind, but we were also friends, even though we regularly argued about almost everything having to do with Madigan. I didn’t write “nice” things about Madigan because of him, but I felt that I did write informed things.
I respected him, but I now know that he lied to me.
McClain told several folks and me that he wasn’t being paid by Commonwealth Edison after he officially “retired” from lobbying in late 2016. He regularly joked about being on a tight budget whenever he came to Springfield to meet with Madigan.
But he wasn’t telling the truth. WBEZ reported Nov. 13 that ComEd paid McClain $361,000 for “legal services” in 2017 and 2018. The company claimed the designation was an error after reporters pointed out that he’d deactivated his law license. He was actually paid for “political consulting services,” a company spokesperson said.
Why he felt the need to lie about something as inconsequential as getting paid by ComEd simply baffles me. But more importantly, it’s totally natural to feel that if he would lie about that, you gotta wonder what else he did.
The Democratic political world in this state is freaked out about McClain being in the crosshairs. First they learned that the insider’s house was raided in mid-May, and then they found out that the government was listening to his phone conversations.
And then it was revealed that McClain foolishly overshared information in emails to a group of campaign bundlers and a presumably smaller group of lobbyists. We also discovered along the way that he recruited a handful of pals to make secret payments to Kevin Quinn, the brother of Madigan’s alderman who was fired for sexually harassing Alaina Hampton. McClain warned Quinn by email not to divulge that secret to anyone.
But some of the panic is a little overblown. For instance
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